Tinker Tips #1: Take the plunge and start planning your dream overseas Disney vacation

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Overseas Disney Trip Planning

Hey, it’s TinkerRat again! And as mentioned in my previous post, I’m here to give you the low-down in planning your dream Disney vacation overseas! To begin this series, I figured that I’d start with a list of my personal practices when it comes to booking my Disney vacation in order to get the most value for the money I put in.

You probably didn’t know this, but I’m a part-time bargain-binning, deal-digging, cheap Charlize, and I credit that attribute to living in the most expensive city in the world, Singapore. Here, every cent counts and I’m constantly finding the best way to maximize my dollar. And I’m gonna take a stab in the dark, I think you might be here because you, too, get that buzz when you know you’ve just scored a deal. The way I see it, the more you save on the “necessities” of travelling (i.e.: flight, transport and lodging), the more souvenirs you get to purchase at the park.

I’ve kept these tips as generic as possible so that they apply internationally, to all Disney Parks, and tried to target the first steps of planning your vacation for someone who has not done it before. Also, keep in mind that this is the first post in a series, so there are definitely more tips coming your way.

1. Do your research

I know you’ve probably heard this before, but I can’t emphasize this enough. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. From the best times to head to your destination, to costs in the country you’re heading to, best ways of getting to the parks from the airport or your hotel, the weather during the time you’re there, whether currency exchange in the country is easily accessible, I could go on.

Your best resource is Google. Ask and you shall receive. I also love watching videos on YouTube before heading to wherever it is I’m heading to, just so I know what to expect when I’m there.

I once went to Paris by myself, while visiting my sister in London, and was so excited that I didn’t even bother with research. I just figured that my love for Disney would naturally get me to the parks.

It was a nightmare when I was nearly late for my flight which was from a different airport than the one I had arrived in and I didn’t realize it was much further from the city center, bought the wrong train ticket from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to get to my hotel and ended up paying over €40 more than I should have, couldn’t figure out how to get from the train station to my hotel and had to roam around completely lost until a lovely French lady helped me out with directions. By the time I actually got to the parks (on a day when it was miserably cold and raining), I had spent quite a bit of my budget and too much of my energy on trying to get around, and was freezing because I hadn’t brought the right clothes.

I actually cried when I got to Disneyland Paris, out of relief and disbelief

I actually cried when I got to Disneyland Paris, out of relief and disbelief

Take it from me. Do your research!

2. Channel some Glenn Close ala Fatal Attraction

No bunny boiling involved, just extreme stalking with the help of a bunny. I use Hopper to track prices of flights. All I have to do is key in my destination and the dates I’m looking at, and watch the trip, and the app alerts me whenever their genius robots detect the prices are lowest. There are tons of apps and websites that do this including Skyscanner and Airfarewatchdog, so if you’ve followed tip 1, you should be searching with one of these by now. I like Hopper because it has a bunny as its logo. And no, we’re not sponsored, we just want to help you save those pennies wherever you can.

Seriously, look at that bunny! Hopper not only tells you the price now, it also gives you an estimation on when and how much the prices will increase or decrease

Seriously, look at that bunny! Hopper not only tells you the price now, it also gives you an estimation on when and how much the prices will increase or decrease

Once I receive an alert about the best time to book, I’ll take my search through various sites including the official website for the airline of my choice as well as third-party booking sites. Stalk the travel sites and don’t forget to go incognito or use a VPN when doing it. I read this tip in a travel blog once before, and have never not done it. Apparently, travel sites track your browsing history and hike prices up to instill a sense of urgency to book, so don’t fall for it!

3. Be open to packaged deals

Gone are the days of travel agents and packaged tours, at least for me. But I have heard of people scoring fantastic deals through travel agents that include accommodation and park tickets. While this isn’t the way I book my trips, it doesn’t hurt to suss out local travel agents and check on their deals. I’m guessing the discounts would probably be greater during off-peak seasons, if my memory of what I learnt in school serves me correct (Hospitality and Tourism graduate here!).

Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t offer as many packaged deals as the other resorts do. The only official hotel that offers packages is Ambassador Hotel, which includes breakfast, park tickets, fast passes, show tickets, exclusive merchandise and drink coupons in some of its packages.

As a word of caution, always purchase your park tickets through legit sources. With so many scams out there, don’t risk it!

A modern take on package deals would be booking your vacations through Expedia. If you’re booking a trip for Tokyo however, note that the official Disney hotels are not available through Expedia. I’ve saved tons for trips by packaging my hotel and flights on Expedia. It also takes away the headache of searching for both, separately.

BONUS TIP! Get paid for going on vacation!

I always, always, always use Ebates on my online purchases and never thought to use it when I book my vacations till recently. Ebates offers cashback on orders from the most popular online stores. All you have to do is log into Ebates and click on whichever store you’d like to shop from. Ebates will link you to the store’s website and you can purchase as per normal. The cashback will be credited into your bank account according to the respective store’s terms and conditions. At time of writing, Ebates is offering 2% cashback on all packages booked through Expedia, which doesn’t sound like a lot but adds up quickly. For my honeymoon, I made about $100 back in cashbacks through my online bookings.

Start getting paid to go on a vacation now!

Start getting paid to go on a vacation now!

Once again, no, we’re not sponsored, we just want to help you save those pennies wherever you can. But, you can always use my referral link if you like. ;)

And there you have it, Ratketeers, my first few tips to get started on planning your overseas Disney vacation. In upcoming posts of this series, we’ll talk about budget planning, itinerary planning, all kinds of planning! Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to know, and I’ll try my best to cover it.

Faith, trust and save we must,

TinkerRat

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