Before I had children, I was a huge fan of shorter trips to Disney World. I’d usually go for three nights, sometimes as little as two, going from morning until night. Happily, because my visit was so short, I never went home feeling exhausted. What I found when I had children however, was that this type of trip doesn’t work very well, at least with the under-five crowd. The biggest issue is that kids take a while to adjust to their surroundings; in our case, the first night or two they tend not to sleep very well, which makes for a very grumpy day for all of us in the parks. And if anything goes wrong–and if you’re a parent, you know how high the potential for that is–your whole trip is pretty much doomed.
Having said that, probably the biggest reason people don’t take shorter, more frequent trips is a big one: Cost. Go for just two long weekends a year and you’re better off buying an annual pass because ticket prices are more expensive on the front end (the first three days, as opposed to just a few dollars a day after day four). Plus, if you’re not close enough that you can drive, airfare can really add up. From a financial standpoint then, longer trips are ideal.
Still, I love taking shorter trips. I love the excitement of always being in “planning mode” even if it’s just for a short weekend trip. When I come back from a trip and don’t have another one planned or when I have one planned so far out that it seems like it’s never going to happen, I really start to miss Disney World, which is how I’m starting to feel right now as I hit the six month mark from my last trip. This got me thinking about the pros and cons of longer vs. shorter trips. Here are a few:
Benefits of a longer trip:
1. Opportunity to relax and really immerse yourself in the experience.
2. If something goes wrong (sickness, lost luggage, weird weather) you still have time to make up for it.
3. Paying airfare once.
Cons of a longer trip:
1. Can be difficult to get time off of work and school.
2. Burn out. No matter how much you love Disney, at some point you have to slow down. You may even get tired of being there.
3. If you’ve been going like a true theme park commando for a week or more, it’s hard not to feel like you need a vacation from your vacation when you get home.
Benefits of a shorter trip:
1. You stay in planning mode, so it’s less likely you’ll experience the post-Disney blahs when you get home.
2. You get to enjoy different times of the year: Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Christmas. You don’t just have to pick just one. You can do all of them.
3. It’s easier to take a long weekend off rather than an entire week or more. This is especially true with kids who are in school, which allows you to go during slower times of the year.
4. It’s more okay to splurge. Two nights at the Grand Floridian look a lot more affordable than an entire week.
Cons of a shorter trip:
1. You have to try hard to see everything you want to see.
2. Little flexibility for minor disasters. If something goes wrong, you’re out of luck.
3. The cost of park admission and airfare. There are ways around this. You can buy an annual pass, which confers other benefits like resort discounts, and you can drive. But the bottom line is you will be paying more by taking more trips, even if number of nights you stay remains the same.
So what about you? Do you prefer longer or shorter stays? Given a choice, would you rather go on three short trips or one long trip every year?
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