Lau Family Travels May 2018 – June 2018 Trip Report

This is my first trip report and I’m a little nervous.  Planning trips is something that I absolutely LOVE to do.  Planning my own trips (a little obsessively) is what made me decide to become a travel agent five years ago!  My personal trips are always planned down to the hour…  you think I’m kidding but I’m not.  I have a binder and everything.

I also budget my trip to the dollar.  Budgeting is something that is very important in my life since we relied on one income for a very long time.  Today I am going to share our budget, costs, and what we did each day of our 10 night/11 day trip to Florida!

Bear with me…  this is my first trip report!

I have to admit…  I’m not really sure how this trip report is going to flow and I’m VERY uncomfortable with sharing my budget and costs.  However, with that being said I think it’s also helpful (or at least I hope it will be)!

A lot of people ask me how much we budget for food, souvenirs, etc. and it really does depend.  I over budget for food by A LOT because we like to eat out when we are on vacation (and buy a few drinks from Starbucks which REALLY adds up quick).  But usually by the time we get there my money-saving habits go into effect and we cut the costs by splitting meals or eating one big meal for lunch and then only eating a snack for dinner.  But, at least the money is in the budget IN CASE I go a little crazy!

My Budget

I always tend to OVER BUDGET for my trips.  I’d rather be happy that we spent less instead of panicking when we got home that we went over!  Below is what I budgeted for each area of our trip.  Keep in mind we are a family of three and we were going to be gone for 10 nights and 11 days!

Gas  $250
Food & drinks  $1470
Souvenirs $200
Hotels & resorts $1,696
Parking fees $110
Photo package at Universal $96
Casino spending money $200


Time for the actual TRIP REPORT!

Trip Report Day 1:

This was our travel day.  We drove from TN to Tampa, Florida.  I pack sandwiches, fruit, and snacks for our drive to Florida to cut down on costs and stops!  My husband actually ended up walking away with $70 extra dollars from the Casino!

Coffee on the way:  $3.62
Gas:  $75.49
Pizza for dinner:  $29.86
Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa East:  $152.57
Casino:  +$70

Trip Report Day 2:

This day we drove to Orlando to Disney Springs and then back to the west coast of Florida to Sarasota to visit my Dad!  We ate dinner at his house, but I had budgeted for dinner costs just in case.

Gas:  $40.00
Souvenir: $15.97
Polite Pig for lunch:  $56.34
Wetzel Pretzel & Lemonade:  $12.52
Hilton Garden Inn Sarasota – Bradenton:  $163.54

Trip Report Day 3:

We made a last-minute decision this day to CHANGE THE PLANS (scary I know) and head over to Volcano Bay for the day.  The weather looked like it was going to be beautiful (and it was).  Later that night we stayed the night at my Aunt’s house in Palm Coast.

Starbucks:  $12.26
Parking at Volcano Bay:  $22
Locker rental (small):  $12
Feasting Frog for lunch:  $29.79
Carrabba’s for dinner:  $51.73

Trip Report Day 4:

We hung out with my Aunt & her family and they made us a DELICIOUS dinner with festive cupcakes!  That night we drove to Orlando to stay in a hotel for a quick commute to the parks in the morning.

Hampton Inn Orlando International Airport:  $118.95

Trip Report Day 5:

By this day we were already so tired that we never realized the night before that our gas tank was on EMPTY!  Not a good start.  It was Memorial Day and we checked into the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando.  We also went to the parks!

Gas:  $50
24 pack of water from the gas station:  $4.99
2 bottles of water in the park because we ran out:  $6.00
3-day Universal Photo Package $106.49
3 Broomsticks for lunch:  $48.95
Margaritaville for dinner:  $93.25
Hard Rock Hotel for 4-nights (includes parking fees):  $993.42

Trip Report Day 6:

We spent most of our time at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on this day.  We went back to the hotel in the middle of the day and took a nap because we were all exhausted already!

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for breakfast:  $7.45
Beverly Hills Boulangerie for 2nd breakfast:  $11.27
Starbucks:  $17.44
Souvenirs:  $20.19
Hard Rock Cafe for dinner:  $70.47
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen milkshake:  $13.85
Churro:  $4.79

Trip Report Day 7:

THIS day was supposed to be our 4 parks in 1 day at Disney World challenge.  This will be a WHOLE post of its own within the next few weeks about how we succeeded yet still failed.  However, here were my costs for the day…  we didn’t eat a lot because we spent a lot of time in line in Animal Kingdom for this very popular ride…

The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel breakfast buffet:  $67.51
Parking at Disney World for the day:  $22
Trek Snacks (popcorn and a soda) at Animal Kingdom:  $7.97
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café dinner:  $31.58

Trip Report Day 8:

By this day we are barely able to get out of bed.  I’m dying on the inside and outside.  As much as I love vacation I’m praying the days go by fast.

Kohola Reef Restaurant lunch:  $45.63
Locker rental (mini):  $8
Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort dinner buffet:  $131.23
Souvenirs:  $11.66
Drinks at the Beachclub Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando:  $17.60

Trip Report Day 9:

We had to check out of the Hard Rock Hotel by 11am, so we packed up the car in the morning and then texted check out while we were in the parks.  That night we checked into our Hilton Grand Vacation Resort at SeaWorld.

Starbucks:  $12.44
Emack & Bolio’s breakfast sandwiches:  $27.69
3 waters in the park because we were out of bottled water:  $9.00
ICEE:  $5.32
Fun in the arcade:  $10
Bubba Gump Shrimp lunch:  $73.48
Vitamin water at the gas station:  $2.12
24 pack of water from CVS:  $3.99
Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld Resort for 2-nights:  $417.50

Trip Report Day 10:

SeaWorld Day!  By this time I feel like a hostage of my own vacation.  My family is mad that we have been on vacation for this long.  It’s 97 degrees and the park is so crowded you can’t see the path ahead of you.  All the rides were also breaking down.  This will be another post for another day.

Wawa breakfast sandwiches:  $12.11
Parking:  $20
Locker rental (whole day rental):  $4
Souvenir:  $10.65
Caramel popcorn:  $7.51
Mango Joe’s lunch:  $42.54
Wawa sub sandwiches & chips for dinner:  $22.59

Trip Report Day 11:

Today is our departure day, but not before we get stuck at a time share presentation for almost 3 hours.  It wasn’t worth the $100 gift card.

Time share presentation:  +$100
Lunch at Wendy’s:  $8.10
Snacks at the gas station:  $17.60
Gas:  $113.12
Tolls during the entire stay:  ~$15 (this is the one thing that I didn’t document since we kept paying in cash)

Our Actual Total Costs

Gas  $279
Food & drinks  $938
Souvenirs $70
Hotels & resorts $1,845.98
Parking fees $64
Tolls $15
Lockers $24
Photo package at Universal $106.49
Casino spending money +$70
Time share presentation +$100

TOTAL SPENT:  $3,172.47  —>  That means we were $849.53 under budget!  

Overall I did fairly well budgeting for this trip.  There were a few costs that I completely forgot to budget for (locker rentals & tolls), but since I WAY over-budgeted on the food costs it all worked out!  This is NOT what a typical trip costs us since it was much longer than usual.  We did A LOT and saw a lot in 11 days…  but we also realized that 10 nights is WAY too much for our family.  Next vacation isn’t going to be longer than 6-7 nights!

What’s coming next for Lau Family Travels?

Stay tuned within the next few weeks for more detailed posts about our trip and also tips and tricks for budgeting, planning, and going on a family vacation to Florida!  I am also going to be starting a Disney Cruise Line series this summer as well!

Are you or someone you know booking a vacation?  Do you need help planning?  I’m a travel agent with Goldgell Getaways and I’ve love to help you plan your dream vacation!  Contact me today for a free quote here or e-mail me at!  

Book your vacation with me today!

For more Disney trip information check out our Lau Family Travels’ Walt Disney World Guide!  For information on planning a Universal vacation check out this post:  Plan a Trip to Universal Orlando With This Ultimate Guide!

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Heidi Mahlon

    Ha! Day 6 is totally me. Breakfast. 2nd Breakfast. Snacks. And holy cow – that Cape May Cafe buffet better have been awesome for $130something for two adults and a child! Loved reading all your little tidbits. Vacation is lovely, but nothing beats coming home! 🙂

    1. Taryn

      It usually is worth the $130 but I was disappointed this time. However my husband eats the $130 worth of crab legs all by himself. Lol! And yes… there’s no place like home!

  2. Sue

    Great trip report. I love that you included the costs you incurred each day. This is so helpful for those trying to come up with a realistic budget. Please often forget the things you includes such as water in the parks, breakfast and tolls.

    1. Taryn

      Yes! I always forget to budget SOMETHING no matter how many trips we go on! Thank you!

  3. themouselets

    This was so helpful! Budgeting is always one of our biggest struggles, but we totally agree to overestimate rather than underestimate.

  4. Yes! I agree our sweet spot is a week too! Longer always sounds better in theory, but it’s exhausting!

    1. Taryn

      Yes! Exactly!

  5. Christina Almond

    Wow…you really did plan it out and seems like it worked out for you! Food is my total “downfall” for spending as well…I just can’t say no to trying new and delicious foods! I’m admittedly a bit more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” traveler. My husband and I recently traveled eastern Europe for 5 weeks with only the first week and a half initially planned. The main thing I knew is that I had a budget to stick to but, otherwise, I kind of enjoyed planning as we went and making it work for us. I think there are benefits to each type of traveling at the appropriate times though!

    1. Taryn

      I try to plan a little less each time. This past trip we let our 9 year old lead the way for a whole day. It was the most fun we had!

  6. I often save receipts to see how much we spent during a trip afterward, but then I do not actually do anything with them and essenijabe a bag of garbage (receipts) when we get home. LOL. I am planning a big trip now, so I am trying to plan ahead for specific budgeting. We will see how it goes.

    1. Taryn

      After that trip I’m not sure I will ever look that closely at them again! Haha!

  7. Gen

    I really liked how you did the budget. Also I’m excited to see your cruise line series coming up you mentioned. I am thinking about my first cruise.

    1. Taryn

      We had a love/hate relationship with the cruise, but now that it’s been a while we are DYING to go on another one. They are addicting!

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