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TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

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Brookneal, Virginia
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TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

And we can't WAIT to go back!!! :)

We are two adults in our 40s- empty nesters- and we were craving a trip to a warm sunny paradise. We decided to check out our options for a low cost trip and found so many great things to do for less money!

1. We drove down from Virginia. We made the journey as fun as the destination- stopping overnight in Savannah, GA to enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes of that beautiful city dripping with Spanish moss and polka dotted with lovely squares and gracious homes, interesting architecture. Then we decided to stop again on day two of our drive in St. Augustine to check out Castillo de Marco and old town St. Augustine. WOW- what a tropical paradise- palm trees swaying in the balmy breeze, great shopping, eating, live music, charming town. We decided that next October we will spend a week split just between these two amazing locales.

2. We found driving to be far more relaxing than flying. I mean, we’d have to leave home one afternoon, spend the night 2 hours away and get an early flight out just to get to our hotel by noon. Driving took a little longer, but was far more fun. Cost for gas: $180 total.

3. We stayed at the Orlando Courtyard Suites- not a resort but a well appointed suite hotel very close to the Bob Evans restaurant on 192.

For $69 a night including tax and fees we had a king bed, whirlpool tub, waterfall shower, full kitchen (dish washer included), washer and dryer, full living room, wifi, granite countertops, the whole enchilada! We could see the fireworks from MK from the parking lot. While we did have to drive past a hotel that is needing renovation to get to the OCS, we never noticed any security issues, never felt unsafe and we came and went at night and during the day. The parking lot is well lit. Staying at OCS enabled us to do this trip on our budget, staying somewhere nice with a kitchen meant saving $ eating breakfast in the suite and packing healthy snacks for lunch and only eating out at dinner.

4. We saved $$ by picking our activities carefully. We bought the Disney Water Parks and Disney Quest Annual pass for $130 per person. It’s $50 to do just one water park for just one day so this really was a no-brainer. We visited water parks 3 days, and Disney Quest twice, so the passes have already paid for themselves. Not to mention, we’ll be back in May to do it all again! For FREE  We found the water parks to be great fun, very relaxing, and we had a flippin’ BLAST!

5. As I mentioned, we ate out at night. Memorable meals included Sweet Tomatoes (right on 192 near the 429 intersection). Plan ahead and join club Veg and get a coupon. We enjoyed a meal at Wolfgang Puck Express Marketplace (DTD). Their roasted veggie pizza is out of this WORLD! One afternoon we played hooky from the water parks and did some real estate homework (who doesn’t dream of retiring to Florida?  ) and ate an early dinner at Chick-Fil-A- always a fave. Most of our meals out cost between $20 and $30 for the two of us total. The two exceptions to that would be our dinner at Boma- the most expensive meal of our trip, and our meal at Texas de Brazil- less expensive due to my husband celebrating a birthday and getting his meal for free (sign up for those restaurant clubs, y’all!). We enjoyed both meals very much but would not spend $50 per person to eat at TdBrazil without a coupon. It’s good but it’s not THAT good, lol. We thought the traffic on I drive was the worst of our trip and probably will not be heading back in that direction any time soon.

6. We moseyed on back home through Folkston and Waycross, GA to get a look at some pecan orchards (we grow pecans in southern VA) and talk shop with some great folks. If you’re headed that direction, you should stop at the Ganas pecan farm- their crop should be coming in before too long. Real nice folks! http://www.gapecan.com/

Before we knew it we were back home again- 25 degrees + cooler and missing the Florida sun. No worries- we’re already planning the next TWO vacations!

Seaham, United...
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1. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

How nice to read an 'alternative' trip report. It is so different when you are on holiday without children! So much more relaxed.

It's great that you are already planning your next two holidays. Lucky folks!



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2. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

What a fab report,your overnight stop in Savannah sounded lovely.:)

Baton Rouge...
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3. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

Thanks for the budget TR! People are always asking me how I manage so many trips each year and it's because we usually do things very much like y'all did only with a Disney theme park rather than water parks annual pass :-)

We just got back from our big blowout Disney trip and, while it was fun, I'm not sure that it was $$$$ more fun than a condo/eating in/brown bag trip.

Destination Expert
for Florida
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4. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

Great budget tips in that report (and I said you'd have more takers here than the main forum lol).

Good luck on retirement plans ;-)

Brookneal, Virginia
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5. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

Thank you for your kind responses...

You'd be surprised how at the water parks more than a few people walked by while we were nibbling

and cast wishful glances toward our little cooler bag of goodies-

fresh grapes, fuji apples, good cheese, almonds and cashews, broccoli and carrots and dip

must look pretty good next to the high priced lunch offerings (which we have eaten before ourselves).

Now that we've done it the on site/Disney Dining way and also the budget way, we'll won't be going back to the dining plan and staying onsite.

This was more our speed. I agree jsmla- spending less per trip = getting more trips to Orlando :)

Valley Stream, NY
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6. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

Really great and interesting report!! Sounds like something I would like to do one day :)

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7. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

Wow - thank you for sharing!!

I enjoyed your report!

United Kingdom
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8. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

what a great tr, i so wish that we could drive to orlando.. i hate flying!, some great tips, thank you very much x enjoy your next trip x

Dallas, Texas
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for Boston, Orlando, Walt Disney World, Las Vegas
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9. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

A very nice TR stopping in Savannah was ideal I just love that city,your budget was excellent and I am like you don't like to spend a lot for meals once in a blue moon is ok,glad you had a great time and thanks for posting your TR.

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10. Re: TR- Just back from our magical budget-friendly vacation!

I'm staying onsite but considering a food plan much like yours with one big meal per day and other meals from the mini-fridge. I want to get to Sweet Tomatoes for at least one meal although without a car we may not make it. Anyway, I'm considering Boma and Hoop Dee Doo for my splurges.

Did you think Boma was worth it?

Edited: 19 October 2012, 04:35