How far are you willing to go for a cheap vacation?

In this super terrible economy, how far are you willing to go for a good deal on a vacation?

We got a call from a large, reputable, classy hotel chain at a very large amusement park in Florida offering 4 days, 3 nights for $111 total if we just listen to their 2-hour sales pitch about the property. (For some reason my husband thought we could get into trouble for using the names of the hotel and park. I don’t understand why, but I’ll be vague.)

So here’s the trade-off: Save close to $1,000 but have to listen to a 2-hour talk. Also I’m not quite sure what we would do with the kids. They say they have childcare but A. I have never left my kids any where with strangers and B. I sort of think their talk would go faster if my kids were climbing the walls.

So what do you think? Is saving $1,000 worth a two-hour sales pitch? What other craziness would you be willing to put up with to save money on vacations?

42 comments Add your comment


March 13th, 2009
8:14 am

Interesting topic, and VERY close to home today.

I have been invited to go to the beach with some friends, one of which owns a house there. The kids are not invited. The rent is free, all I have to pay for is food, etc.

Am I willing to go to the beach for around $150, without my kid for 5 days? YEA. (as a single parent to a teenager, oh HELL YEA!!)

And yes, Theresa, saving $1,000 to listen to a 2 hour sales pitch is worth it. Don’t worry about leaving your kids, there will be plenty of kids they can play with. These places are fairly safe, as they do these promotions all the time. Maybe some of our fellow bloggers have participated and can give you advice on the kids.

I have a friend who does this all the time. They have stayed at some very nice places for free.


March 13th, 2009
9:11 am

Yes, I would sit thru their spill for that kind of deal..With 2 that are 6, you take a break wherever you can get it..

Gloria Hames

March 13th, 2009
9:17 am

Just practice saying “NO”, over & over before you go. You will be pressured & intimidated to agree to whatever it is they are selling. Be prepared to be firm. Do not give in, thinking you can cancel later. They are the ones that made the offer, and it says: you are under no obligation, other that to listen.


March 13th, 2009
9:49 am

“Just say NO!” I agree with Gloria. “Just say NO!” My husband and I did this in Vegas and went to 3 shows and dinner on them. It was fun! Wayne Newton was fabulous. I’m not sure about taking kids because we did not have ours with us. “Just say NO!”


March 13th, 2009
9:51 am

To add another perspective and as someone who did this last year, I can say “not worth it”, particularly when the “hotel and park” in question is offering 3 days free (with tickets and on-site hotel) if you buy 4 days, which we’re doing this year instead! Check out their website :)

Also, the package that has 4 days, 3 nights, is not enough time to visit everything (even after we added an extra day/night). If you’re lucky, you will get an early morning appointment, but that 2 hour appointment will likely stretch into a 3-4 hour one that is not just a sales pitch, but a very high pressure sales pitch. You will miss at least half a day of your 4-day package, and it’s not a very enjoyable experience, IMO.

So, after doing this, I’m no longer willing to trade my vacation, which is supposed to be relaxing, with a high-pressure sales pitch that makes me uncomfortable. Of course, some people may be totally comfortable with this, on an extremely tight budget, and/or even interested in the product – in any of those cases the tables might be turned.

PS – I didn’t like leaving my kids, either!


March 13th, 2009
10:30 am

I would recommend saving $1111.Why go somewhere you weren’t planning to go just to save money?As for the children?I wouldn’t leave my children with strangers in a situation like this.Ever.


March 13th, 2009
10:36 am

Not everyone out there is looking to do harm to your kids. Places like this are prepared for kids and have places for them to hang out. I doubt they really enjoy having a bunch of kids tagging along on their presentations. It’s two hours, for crying out loud.

However, you leave your kids with a bunch of strangers when you send them to school. Unless you know every single person at that school……

Ron Appleton

March 13th, 2009
10:45 am

Just did a similar deal in Hilton Head last week. Although the hotel was 2nd rate we enjoyed 2 great dinners, golf and the beach for 4 days for the price of one night’s hotel. We did the 90 minute sales pitch and tour of the new resort early morning the first day and had the rest of the weekend to ourselves. Had the chance to tour 2 other properties and get paid $100 each while there but passed. The sales people are stationed outside of every restaurant trying to get you to visit their development and will entice you with all types of freebies. Understand that this is a time-tested marketing program for the timeshare developers. They know only a small percentage of their guests will buy anything, but its the only way to get us to Florida or Hilton Head to see the properties. To qualify you’ll have to spend the whole 2 hours but just politely say NO at the end, collect the documentation you need to get the free offer and leave. BTW, we bought a time-share in HH 12 years ago and although the family has loved the annual vacations there and elsewhere, I regret doing it. Its the gift that keeps on giving, forever, even after the purchase price is paid off. There are annual assessments, maintence fees and other charges to use the unit. Still cheaper that a week’s hotel for a family of 5, but there are other options if you plan your vacation several months in advance. As for the sales pitch, our purchase price was 50% lower than the first offer, another irratant.

Go, just say no and enjoy the trip!


March 13th, 2009
10:49 am

Think of it this way. Your youngest would be so petrified of the helpers that they will HAVE to come get you. Then you will have at least one child with you, who undoubtly will get bored and aggrevated. Thereby shortening your time. All of my kids can tell time, so it does not matter how long they are playing indoors. Once they see it is past their conceived time on when they want to go…they will voice their displeasure to the lovely person watching. Teach one of them to cry for their parent and will escape the little “daycare” idea.

With that being said. I was saying YEAH you should go…until I read Heather’s post. Hey Heather can you send me the website. :) I am all about free trips, but if I can get the same “free” trip if I just pay for one night…Then I am game.


March 13th, 2009
10:52 am

You can always make more money – you can’t buy time. I want to RELAX on vacation, not be hounded by sales people. I’d rather save my money this year and go someplace great next year rather than a bunch of crappy little vacations.


March 13th, 2009
11:52 am

Save some money (and aggravation) and skip the amusement park thing altogether. Tybee is just 4 hours away…if you have a bigger budget, drive 30 minutes farther to Hilton Head. If the beach isn’t your thing, go a few hours the other way, to N Ga, Chattanooga, etc. Plenty to do there too.

If you HAVE to go to an amusement park, there’s always Six Flags and White Water, or maybe Dollywood, if that’s more your flavor.


March 13th, 2009
12:44 pm

go to home depot about 11:30am on a saturday morning. walk the tool asiles for 30-40 minutes. then go outside and get a free hotdog


March 13th, 2009
12:45 pm

if you want a family vacation, go with the kids and let them build a bird house first


March 13th, 2009
1:26 pm

We did this 2 years ago for Spring Break…totally not worth it. The hotel was a roach motel, had to pay to upgrade to a room we were comfortable taking our shoes off in….and when we refused the time share/vacation deal, the guy sent in their closer. This guy proceeded to tell my husband that he must not love his children because he was not willing to make that investment in their happiness and future vacations. Totally ruined the trip for us and that guy was very lucky my husband held his temper. Time share folks are worse than bill collectors!


March 13th, 2009
1:39 pm

Haha! This reminds me of that South Park episode where they get the “free” ski trip if they listen to the sales pitch. They never were able to ski and were literally being held captive! (Does anyone know the episode I’m talking about?) I think I’d skip it… those sales things are SO annoying!


March 13th, 2009
1:42 pm

I have been on vacation exactly the way you are describing. It worked fine. However, you must gear yourself for what will be the most aggressive sales pitch you ever hear in your life. THey will offer you a price, then lower it, then get a manager who will give you a lower price, then another manager who will lower it again. Then they will insult you for saying no. But you just keep saying no, no, no.

Truth is, if you want a time share, buy it from ebay for half of the lowest price they ever offer you.

But on a related note, and a topic I wish you’d cover, am I am bad father if I never take my child to Disney World????

My brother, mother, and friends all seem to think so. My son has never expressed any interest in going. Personally, I would rather spend the day at the IRS than standing in line at an amusement park. However, if going to central florida and forking over thousands of dollars to a ruthless corporation is what it takes to not be a terrible father, then i guess we’ll go.

new mom

March 13th, 2009
1:47 pm

These types of timeshare sales pitches aren’t for us. I might consider it if it meant the difference in going somewhere versus no where at all, but I can’t imagine putting ourselves through that torture while on ‘vacation’.

We are members of disney’s vacation club, and back when my parents joined in 1992, the sales pitch was practically non-existent. They just lay out the numbers and let you decide…and my husband and I had wanted to join ourselves ever since. We finally got to where we could do it in 2005, and it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Now if you had a rough sales pitch from them, then I’m sorry, but we actually sought them out when we were ready to buy. There’s so much flexibilty with their plan, we get to go so often, so many places (we’ve been to nyc via disney) and just not having to worry about paying for your hotel whenever you go is awesome. and no, i don’t get paid to say all of this! ha ha


March 13th, 2009
1:48 pm

I am going to Charleston this weekend for a cheap getaway. Priceline negotiated the hotel down to $50 a night on beachfront…already have a dining intinerary that is affordable and will spend time relaxing and walking and seeing sights, all free. Children can enjoy simple pleasures too. But I highly recommend Chattanooga and Tybee as great getaways- also LA (lower alabama ) has some great rates and sights to see as well!

new mom

March 13th, 2009
1:58 pm

sd, I think that people are either ‘amusement park people’ or they’re not, and from the folks I’ve known, it depends on what their experiences were like there as a child.

I practically grew up in Disney, riding those rides, running through magic kingdom like a crazy person, standing in lines that only built the anticipation, and feeling like I was at the happiest, most fun place on earth. Part of that was my parents’ attitude, they always had fun there themselves, and I still do as an adult. My husband enjoys it, but no where near the degree that I do. He never went as a child, and it doesn’t hold the memories or magic that it does for me. We are going in May, taking our then 20 mth old, and I can’t wait to ride dumbo with her, take her on small world, and get her a mickey-head ice cream. Just to see her get excited, overwhelmed, giddy…and to see it through her little eyes. I can’t wait!

I don’t think you are a bad parent though. But if you want to send your son with us, we’ll be happy to take him along. :)


March 13th, 2009
2:00 pm

We weighed our options…cruise, Vegas, etc. We decided on camping! The kids love it and it is still time spent together having fun!


March 13th, 2009
2:09 pm

yea, that’s how my Mom and Aunt ended up with their Timeshares on Hilton Head!! I told them to just say NO! We love the annual Halloween and Mother’s Day on Hilton Head though! Still can’t understand how paying all that money all year for one week every other year saves money though!

J. Harris

March 13th, 2009
2:14 pm

I think it’s insane that you have never left your kids anywhere.


March 13th, 2009
2:19 pm

If we are talking timeshares here, the quick way out is to have them show you the numbers. By the time you throw in maintenance costs and the price of the timeshare they cannot match what you would pay if you just rented a condo every year. When I was in Hawaii last year the resort talked us into one of these presentations in exchange for $500 in cash. The resort only cost $100/night 2br/2.5ba. The timeshare was 25k in additon to $300/yr maintenance fees that go up in addition to the price of timeshare ownership. A lot of timeshares are on a point system and do not provide actual ownership. Also, there are several timeshare on the secondary market at a fraction of what they want. When the salesman starts his stupid T close, make one of your own. Anyway, once we got started on the numbers, the salesman was trapped. Our 2 hr presentation lasted only 30 minutes. We still got our cash. We made them get rid of us instead of walking out.


March 13th, 2009
2:19 pm

There’s always a better deal if you look hard enough. It’s not worth the sales pitch, and definitely not worth leaving your kids with strangers. Priceline a hotel if you need to save money. Last minute deals can be great. Last year I got a condo on Hilton Head for July 4th weekend (made the reservations on July 3rd) for under $100 per night. The place was wonderful, right on the beach, had a playground, an entire pool complex, and activities for the kids. Don’t sell out for a cheap vacation. Find it yourself.


March 13th, 2009
2:21 pm

And what’s up with everyone wanting to leave the kids. The only time I’ve ever left my son for a vacation I spent the entire time thinking of how much he would have enjoyed doing all the things we were doing. I love giving him that kind of fun and excitement that my parents never gave me growing up. Wouldn’t dream of ditching him again.


March 13th, 2009
2:27 pm

new mom, thanks for saying I am not a terrible person. I did go to Disney once as a child. It was Ok. My son (6 years old) now likes to go to science museums and we both enjoy going camping, hiking, or anything that puts us in nature. As a general rule, I don’t like to be around crowds of people, and I kind of get freaked out standing in lines. And the boy doesn’t play with any disney toys and is not a big fan of movies or tv, so I don’t understand the pressure everyone else puts on me. “Oh, he HAS to go to Disney!”. Maybe he would like it, I don’t know, but if i had to guess, I’d think he would prefer Fernbank agaiin to an amusement park.

By the way, the “happiest place on earth” is sleeping on a canyon wall miles from civilization counting the stars or maybe its doing the same while floating miles out on the ocean. Wherever it is, its certainly not paved in asphalt and they don’t sell plastic things for lots of money.


March 13th, 2009
2:38 pm

BBB I go to Charleston every year. Have you been before? I can recommend some great restaurants. Don’t miss happy Hour at The Noisy Oyster at the end of the Market Place. Best Ahai (sp) Tuna I’ve ever had, and they usually have $2 cosmos…….


March 13th, 2009
2:39 pm

Lori, even the best parents need a break sometimes. My wife and I went on a short trip last summer to the beach without my son. It was the first time we had done that. It was wonderful for our marriage. I had forgotten how much I liked her even. Over the course of 3 nights, we, uh, how do I put this, re-consumated the marriage, 8 times! I suppose we could do that sort of thing at home, but life is too busy and its difficult to explain why you are locked in your bedroom all day.

new mom

March 13th, 2009
3:04 pm

sd, I agree that those other places are awesome too. I’m not much of a camper, but I do enjoy floating miles out in the ocean. OK, on a cruise ship… :)
But in addition to disney, we do enjoy all kinds of vacations and educational trips. When our kids are older, we’re taking them to DC for some history, and I can’t wait to do the ‘out west’ vacations I experienced as a kid too…grand canyon, yellowstone, etc. There’s such a huge world of experiences out there!


March 13th, 2009
3:08 pm

Lori, I leave my child once or twice a year for girlfriend weekends. I have to have some “ME” time. But then again, I’m a single parent.

I think parents need to get away from their kids once in awhile. It’s healthy. Nothing wrong with it at all. Especially if you are married, you need to take (read MAKE) time for you and your spouse.


March 13th, 2009
4:13 pm

sd, I’m with you on the camping..It doesn’t sound like you are a bad parent..Any time that you spend with your child is great..I’ve been to Disney once & that was enough..Yes, all parents need a break from your children as well as they from you, so that’s not an issue for me to leave them..

As for the sales pepole putting you under pressure. doesn’t happen..I’ve been on a couple of these spills & oce I (or my husband) tell them no, that’s the end of it for us..My ex one time told the guy that if he didn’t give us our “prize” he was gonna deck him..Needless to say, we were given our TV & we left..I just don’t fall for being pressured to do anything..


March 13th, 2009
4:38 pm

Hi all…I am in Portland Oregon and thrilled to beout of Bemidji, Mn.
the ACTUAL tempertaure there was 24 BELOW ZERO. I bring this up because my sister is telling me how BEAUTIFUL it is in the summer time and I am thinking THERE IS NO WAY I WOULD ENDURE THE WINTER….LOL.
This relates to the topic because I am also not interested in spending money to stand in line with hundreds of other folks at a theme park.
Mine have both been to Disneyworld and Disneyland, with our entire family. I would not go again if someone told me they were paying my way. Not my cup of tea.

I also am not into camping. This is because I want to rest on the vacation and that includes no cooking, packing the things we need
( like bug spray), lighting the lanterns and hiking to the potty.
We camped when I was growing up and I enjoyed it but it was a LOT of work for my Mom.

Now for the timeshare….our last pitch was to get $100 off of a snorkel trip in Maui. Two adults spent 2 hours in there ( translate $25 per hour) NOT WORTH IT and we both said we would never do it again.
Our kids were 11 and 16 and bored out of their minds.

Bottom line…to each his own ( everyone vacations in a different light) but if you happen to get a Hilton Honors American Express card, you can rack up points very quickly. I have found it to be one of the best for point accrual. I am taking my daughter to New York and we are staying 3 nights at the Embassy Suites for FREE….that is worth over $1000.00 if we had to pay for it and I cashed in points on my Hilton card.

Hats off to my clients in Bemidji, who are a sturdy and friendly group…they can keep the weather…haha!


March 13th, 2009
6:05 pm

My parents did this. I recall the facilities being pretty skimpy and the pitch very very persuasive. Only go if you and hubby are prepared to laugh about it afterward. Be warned! (They ended up buying, altho they said there was NO WAY they would beforehand.)


March 13th, 2009
8:21 pm

I’m all for taking my kids to Disney World, but I would never take a 20-month old there. She won’t have memories, but I guess that isn’t the person the trip is intended for, is it? Grow up! Good grief!


March 14th, 2009
9:37 am

@sd: You sound like a wonderful father. Disney World is certainly not the epitome of parenthood — although if you stood in line for an hour for a popular ride, you certainly earn endurance points! We’ve been to Disney, Universal and Sea World several times (and frankly, my favorite is Sea World — less frentic), but I’m pretty sure my kids wouldn’t classify those vacations, enjoyable as they were, as their most memorable childhood experiences.

@New Mom, I agree with Kat — no way in hell I would take a 20 month old to Disney. We took our son for the first time at 4 years of age, and left his 20 mo. old sister with grandparents so we could have a special one-on-one time with him. He HATED it. Basically, any ride that required a seat belt, he was terrified of, and so we spent an entire day riding the antique cars over and over and over again . . . Of course, we learned a couple of years later that this is typical of kids with sensory defensiveness, but at the time, we were just perplexed that this kid wasn’t having the time of his life! He ended up being much happier at the water park and at Sea World.

About the time share: Read the fine print, and make sure you’re willing to give up the time necessary — the pitch may be “only” two hours, but the tour may take up almost an entire day. I did this twice, for fun, but then again, I’m pretty impervious to high pressure sales pitches. You can’t fault a person for trying to make a living — just figure you’re giving the sales person practice for his next pitch :-) And if the sales person doesn’t “like” me at the end of the fruitless sales pitch — oh, well *shrug*. It wasn’t as if I was auditioning to be his best friend, anyway!

new mom

March 14th, 2009
9:43 am

I debated about responding to that last comment, because this person’s comments are always so rude and critical…but I would like to address the issue of taking a small child somewhere fun before they have memories of it, because it’s one of my pet-peeves.

Now, I understand if you think you’ll only go to Disney (or some other type of trip) once in their childhood–it makes sense to wait until they can remember it. We will probably only do one or two big trips out west, maybe once to hawaii, and we’re going to wait until our kids are old enough to understand what they are seeing and have their own memories.

However, I don’t think that should ever be an excuse or reason to NOT let them experience something fun, just for the sake of their enjoyment at that time. Our trip we are planning is completely about our daughter–we’re only going to the magic kingdom, have made a list of the rides and activities she will enjoy, and are going to some character meals because she loves them. Not so she will be able to say someday ‘I remember that trip to Disney, I had fun, thanks mom and dad’. Just purely for the excitement she will experience at the time, when we’re there. She loves to fly through the air with her daddy–I know she’ll love dumbo. She loves her Mickey Mouse, I know she’ll love meeting him again ‘in person’. She loves playing at gymboree–I know she’ll love playing at Pooh’s playful spot, especially designed for toddlers. I could go on and on….

If we really didn’t care if she had fun or not, we could just leave her at home with a babysitter and a bag of rocks (after all, she won’t remember it!) and go to the beach. It would be easier then dealing with the stroller, diapers, etc., but she’s part of our family, and we are looking forward to seeing her getting excited and having fun.

Now please everyone, it doesn’t matter where you go on vacation, but that you get out and go, have fun, and not worry so much about what others are doing :)

new mom

March 14th, 2009
9:45 am

Just to clarify, when I referred to the ‘last comment’, DB’s had not posted yet, I was not referring to her’s.


March 14th, 2009
10:26 am

sd, please don’t feel pressured by people who think Disney is the end-all for children. I know so many people who spend every big vacation there and think it’s the most magical place on earth — good for them. If your son expresses an interest at some point and you decide to go after all, do a little research and plan a Disney trip that will suit your family’s interests. I think they have a campground there. You said he likes science museums. I’ve heard there are behind the scenes tours of different areas — he may enjoy seeing how things work. He may also enjoy EPCOT’s with its Living Seas and dinosaurs rides (I assume those are still there — haven’t been down in 10 years) more than the more typical amusement park-feel of the Magic Kingdom.

Vacation time and money to go someplace are too hard to come by these days — do what your family enjoys and go where you want!


March 14th, 2009
10:42 am

New Mom, re 20month old at Disney. She may not “remember” in the traditional senses of the word but when a little one is exposed to and allowed to experience a wide range of things it has an impact on their development. I firmly believe this.

I used to do all sorts of things that people found odd. I’d sit my little one on the back porch with a full container of fresh raspberries and let him eat and PLAY. “What are you doing he’ll stain his shirt! “He’s not eating, he’s playing!” Seriously? Who cares?? He’s having fun, learning, exploring textures, colors, etc.

I’d sit them at the kitchen table and spray shaving cream piles in front of them and let them play. Mud puddles from a little rain? We were in them. Suds rolling down the driveway from washing the cars? Mine were plopped right in the middle of the activity. Pile of dirt or mulch at the end of the driveway that needs spreading. Mine were in the middle of every pile. Dirty? ABSOLUTELY from head to toe! But oh the fun, love of nature, appreciation for bugs and all things crawly.

Do my boys remember all of this? Of course not. But they loved them at the time and I’m confident these little things played significant roles in helping develop all those brain pathways that we can’t measure or immediately see the results from.

Take her. Have fun. Her brain and development will benefit in ways you’ll never be able to measure.


March 15th, 2009
11:34 am

New Mom: We took our first trip to Disney when my oldest was 4 yrs and my second was 8 months. They both had a blast. We have been 5 times since and took my 3rd child when he was 2 yrs. That was two years ago and he occasionally asks when he can he go see Mickey again. You will have a ball, and more importantly, so will your daughter. Have a great time. It is not a family vacation if you leave someone behind because he or she might be inconvenient.

G Peters

March 18th, 2009
7:49 am

Yes, go, but when you see the salesperson, tell them you would buy the product if they would help you get your overdue mortgage paid up so that you won’t be homeless when you arrive home.

G Peters

March 18th, 2009
7:55 am

DO NOT BUY A TIMESHARE. I bought one at Myrtle Beach about 20 years ago. Last year I decided to get rid of it when the maintenance fee had gone up to over $500 per week. I could not sell it and I even had trouble giving it away. I finally found a person from Canada who took for nothing.