Sunday 25th December, 2005


Family vacation saving worthwhile

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At Epcot, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, of Walt Disney, where I spent the better part of 15 hours, others spent millions of dollars, converted from various currencies, on warm clothing, food and Disney paraphernalia.

Disney bills itself now as the Happiest Celebration on Earth, and indeed happy parents spending warm dollars and happy people enjoy everything to the hilt is the order of the day.

But what does it take to enjoy a Disney vacation, from the financial perspective? Cotton candy comes in at US$3 per pack, and a cup of hot chocolate at US$3.50. The Sushi dinner came in at US$115, and lunch was US$75.

And the wind chill factor plus the cool temperatures, led to spot purchases of warm Disney Brand parkers at US$58 each. Of course the parents with smaller children also indulge their party in the fancy Cinderella and Snow White costumes that ring in at more than US$100 each. And such items are really only the frills of the day.

Multiply that by the cost of entry for a park for a day, times two days minimum, the rental vehicle, and the hotel, for a week, and you’re looking at a few months of income, invested in family time, quality time.

The important factoid, is that literally thousands of people visit Disney World everyday. These are not rich people, but people who try to strike a balance between work and play, between saving for the house, car and education, as well as family fun.

Of course a beach house at Mayaro, may be a whole lot more relaxing, and much less costly, but the value for the money always equates.

The Disney vacation is a hot shot event, and the experience is phenomenal, and equal to the dollar. The intention here is not to sound like a spokesperson for Disney, but certainly a spokesperson for the hot shot family vacation.

So, financially we need to set up the vacation fund. It begins with the end in mind, just as Covey leadership tells us. If the goal is to accumulate $20,000, and we can save $1000 per month, we need just 20 months of discipline. Alternatively $500 per month will double the savings period.

It may mean that for 20 months, the dining out events will be reduced, as well as the movie town, and the fetes.

One way to save real money, especially for women, is to set a moratorium on clothing. Many of us have more clothes than we have closet space, and more shoes then we can remember. How many times do we actually forget we have that navy blue shoe still in the shoe box?

One way to enforce the discipline, (tried and tested), is to decide that the family shall buy no new clothes and shoes (unless prescriptive in nature) for 12 months.

Another way to speed up the savings is to decide upfront that tax refunds and bonuses will be allocated to the vacation fund. Actually a nice way to jump start the fund is with such remunerations.

If yours is a two-income family, each breadwinner should contribute to the fund.

The phenomena of soaring over the State of California, in a simulated glide sequence, and to see the great cities of China, in a 360 circle vision cinema, narrated by an ancient Chinese poet, and to be attacked by Norway trolls, is a permanent internalisation of custom, culture, and value.

Indeed, family vacation savings is a sound financial investment.

Its worth every effort.

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