We have officially made it to the last month of the year, December. This month is typically one where we spend all of our time and energy on family and friends. The average American invests hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars on toys that our children will no longer play with, jewelry our mothers won't wear and sweaters that our uncles can't fit. I have been a passenger on the Christmas train for many years and this year I have decided that I no longer want to ride. I've never been interested in watching the Black Friday fights, standing in the long lines to sit on Santa's lap or attending the Ugly Christmas sweater parties. I have decided that I would prefer to wrap my year up with a more fulfilling experience with my son. Which means I have decided to use our Christmas budget to travel and have some real fun. For our winter end trip this year I have selected Orlando for our destination, in future years I plan on making these international trips. There's two things I want to cover with you if you are interested in replacing your presents with memories.
1) How to break the news to the kids and ensure they still enjoy the festivities
2) How to make it happen on a budget
Informing my little guy that we were pitching Christmas was an easier conversation than I had predicted. I told him that we would no longer be celebrating Christmas because there was an entire world to see and I would prefer to take him out to see it, instead of continuing to pile toys on his shelves. Memories instead of presents. His face lit up, he answered with a simple "okay mommy" and I knew he was on board. Once he started hearing about his friends putting up their Christmas trees he wanted to know if we would be putting ours up. I told him we would be celebrating Kwanzaa when we returned from Orlando and that meant no tree, lights or garland would be going up this year. He didn't take that too well until I ensured him that we would go and see the beautiful lights put up by our neighbors in the nearby neighborhoods. He is now in a state of excitement about our upcoming adventures and is adamant about sharing our new tradition with others. Many of my friends and family members have asked me how did I go about sharing the news with Deuce and many assumed that a seven year old wouldn't take the news that great. Though, he isn't the average seven year old, especially when it comes to Christmas. When he was only three years old he looked me in my face and told me I was Santa. Tips that I would share with others who are attempting to take on this journey with their little people are as follows:
Make it exciting! Don't share the news that their toys will be taken away without first announcing how much fun they will have in place of those toys.
Make it family centered. Going on this year end trip means a lot to me, not only because we are breaking tradition and doing something different but because it also gives me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my son. No phones, minimal technology, just love and fun in a city we've never been before.
Make memories! When you go to new places, try new things, go to the special places where the locals hang and really take the time to enjoy being somewhere new. This will ensure you create valuable memories with your loved ones.
The plan to take on memories instead of presents was definitely centered with my budget in mind. I didn't want to make this trip cost more than I usually would spend on Christmas gifts. Being that my Christmas budget typically ranges from $500 to $1000 I decided to set a budget of $750 for the Orlando trip, with the intention of making this a 4-5 day vacation. I was pretty successful on my mission, though the budget slightly changed due to 2 additional family members joining, which actually allowed me to easily come in under budget. There are a few sites that I like to use for traveling and you may have heard of or used them before:
Tripmasters: Allows you to customize your trip to create an affordable package
Travelzoo: Packages all over the world with flights, hotels and more
Airfordable: Purchase your flight in installments
Groupon: Getaway tab offers hotels, all-inclusive, romantic, beach and more for budgeter
AirBNB: So many great options, from campgrounds, tiny houses, treehouses and more, great prices
I also had to do some online research to find the best place to purchase our tickets as I filled our itinerary with fun! I started with Legoland Florida Resort's website because that was the most important stop on the trip. When I arrived on the site I sought out the bundle packages that they had available. They offer a few packages that include access to their water park, other local attractions or even hotel rooms. These packages lead me to the sites of other local attractions, where I searched their sites for offers and discounts. I came across the offer that best fit our needs and budget on the