Thursday, September 11th, 2008...1:19 pm

Jacksonville Vacation, Fall of 2008

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Jacksonville Skyline at Night

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: minds-eye

We’re currently on vacation in Jacksonville, Florida. Since I’m writing this before we leave, I’m hoping that we’re having a good time and that it’s nice and sunny there. We were worried last week that Hurricane Ike would ruin our plans, but instead it looks to be ruining someone else’s.

This is our first, and probably only, vacation for the year.  We have taken a couple of long weekend road trips, but this is the first “real” vacation as a family.  We’re doing a number of things to keep costs to a minimum, and I thought I’d share some of these tips:

  • We used to figure out when the best time to buy tickets is to get the lowest fare.  Once we decided that we were going to go, we watched the “farecast”, which told us to wait, wait, wait, buy.  By waiting for fares to dip, we were able to save several hundred dollars, and ended up getting 3 tickets for just under $200 each.
  • We are staying with friends.  While this can be a recipe for disaster, we are not going to be freeloading guests.  We’ll buy food and cook, keep the place clean, do the laundy, etc. (Want us to come stay at your house?) This will save us at least $500.
  • We booked a rental car through Hotwire. Compared to any other online car rental service, this was the cheapest by over $100. We had a number of coupons and deals for rental cars, but these discounts all paled in comparison. Hotwire’s trick, apparently, is that it gets to choose which car company you end up with. While I’m sure there’s a difference between rental agencies, I don’t have much of an opinion about them (except I won’t rent from Payless in Toronto again). We ended up with a car from Alamo.
  • We’re bringing our own child seat and GPS unit for the car. This way we won’t have to rent these items from Alamo. This saves us $20+ per day.
  • We’re going to shop for food and cook and eat “at home” as much as possible.  This will save a couple of hundred dollars on dining, though we still expect to eat some meals out.
  • We are traveling simply to visit friends and family.  If we end up doing nothing else, we’ll have had a good time.
  • We are going to Disney World for one day.  We used Trip Advisor to find a condo in Orlando that has a pool that looks like it will be lot’s of fun for our toddler and her cousin.  (Thanks to fivecentnickel for that tip!).  We’re sharing a two room suite with my cousin and his family.  The per couple cost savings is at least $50.
  • At Disney, we’re using passes that we bought two and a half years ago, when we saved money by buying multi-day passes that are good forever.  This probably saved us each $10.

I do hope to have a chance to get in an update while we’re away, but if I can’t you’ll know why!

Have you cut back on your vacationing this year because of the economy and high gas prices?  What have you done to cut costs on the trip(s) you did take?  Let us know in the Comments section below, or click here if you’re reading via an RSS reader or by email.