Planning

Planning Way In Advance

Planning Dining Reservations

I consider myself completely nuts when it comes to planning. I love planning and I love spreadsheets and I love doing research for planning trips. My friends and I recently decided we’re taking a ladies’ weekend to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival next October, more than a year from the point I’m writing this post. 

I had recently been saying (to pretty much anyone who would listen) that it’s not that I need to go to Disney right now, or even in the next few months. I just went to Disneyland this spring and Disney World last fall. But not having any idea when my next trip will be is the part I don’t like.

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Most people don’t actually book trips this far in advance because who knows what’s going to be going on in a year and you may not have actually saved up the money yet, etc. This post shares what I do to research and start getting excited and how I get ideas of costs when the trip is so far away.

First, a little backstory: My very best friend, who is more like a sister to me than my sister, grew up going to Disney with her family, just like I did. Her parents are Disney Vacation Club members and they still go very often, and she even takes her own children now. We have talked about going to Disney together for years but it’s never happened. I have another friend who’s also a big Disney fanatic who I’d been talking about doing the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend with, until I started having issues that prevented me from running. We’d still been talking about trying to do a friends’ weekend during Food & Wine. Fast forward to this past weekend, and those 2 ladies and another friend who also likes Disney, but hasn’t gone as much as the other 3 of us, were all over my house for a ladies’ night and we got to talking about taking a trip together. By the time the night was over, we’d settled on dates and a rough idea of our plan and the friend with the DVC parents was going to ask them if we could use their points.

So here we are now. My friend’s parents agreed to let us use their points! They’re going to book their home resort for us at the 11 month mark, so we at least have somewhere to stay, and then try to move us to one of the Epcot area resorts at the 7 month mark!! I am so excited, I can barely contain it! AND, my husband and I are talking about maybe the 2 of us will go down a few days earlier and he and I will do some Food & Wine and then he’ll head home when the rest of the ladies arrive.

So, what’s the first thing I did? I made a spreadsheet! I have separate tabs for flight pricing, ticket pricing, and hotel pricing (for me and hubby). One of the reasons I love spreadsheets so much is that I’m not very good at math, but formulas to do math for you are so easy. So I also have a spot where I’m totaling everything together for all the different scenarios I’m laying out to be able to get an idea of the end point at a glance.

Since you can’t see flight prices as far as a year in advance, I decided to look at prices for this year to get an idea. For this particular trip, I priced out several separate scenarios. My husband’s flight down and back a few days later, my friends flight down and back, and then my flight down at the beginning with hubby and back at the end with my friends. That part was honestly tough to keep straight, but that’s why I have a spreadsheet. I put all my info in with dates and who I was looking at them for so I could keep it all straight.

I know the day of the week often impacts flight prices, in addition to looking at prices for 2018 with the dates we’re traveling in 2019, I also looked at the actual days of the week we’ll be traveling. For example, today is September 14th and it’s a Friday. But if I’m planning to travel on September 14th next year, it’ll be a Saturday. So I also would have looked at prices for Saturday of that week. I have A LOT of prices in my spreadsheet.

Unless you’re buying a single day ticket to a single park, you can look at prices of multi-day Disney World tickets for any time (single day, single park ticket prices depend on the time of year). It’s always possible that there will be an increase in ticket prices, but there’s no real way to predict that. In my spreadsheet, I basically looked at prices for 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 day tickets, both with and without the hopper option. 3 or 4 day are maybe for hubby, 4 or 5 day are maybe for my friends, and 6 or 7 day are for me. Lots of numbers.

Finally, I priced out every single moderate and deluxe resort for the dates hubby and I might go. You actually can view the prices on Disney’s website out that far, so there wasn’t any speculation there, but actual pricing info. You can filter by resort area so I first chose the Epcot area but it’s basically just the 5 hotels right outside the International Gateway and then Caribbean Beach.

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Then I created formulas to total up the cost for each hotel with the most expensive ticket and flight scenarios and again for the least expensive scenarios to get an idea of the range. And then I called my husband at lunch and talked his ear off about my spreadsheet and how excited I am and that we should talk about all the details right now (even though we were both at work and he was in the middle of something).

Since we haven’t actually sat down together to discuss, I’m not spending my free time while I work on ears watching every vlog and instagram story I can about the Food & Wine festival. I’m brainstorming ideas for ears all 4 of us can wear together and chatting with my friends about what parks we want to do and if we want to eat any real meals or just eat and drink our way around the World Showcase for 5 days.

What crazy things do you do to plan way far in advance?

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