How Cheap is Too Cheap?

Becoming a Cheapthusiast has been a journey of trial and error. There are times when the trip is over and I reflect back like “Damn I did that!” and other times when I’m like… “What was I thinking?”.

Believe it or not, one of the main themes of my life is the lesson that, Nothing that is worth it is easy! I think of things I have ACCOMPLISHED and how difficult they were to achieve. On the other hand, I think of things that I have GOTTEN AWAY WITH and how easy they were to achieve. I have been thinking a bit lately about my adventures and whether taking the easy road is the best choice (always).

In good old 2019 the year I began my journey to find personal happiness within the enthusiast hobby I had one goal in my head, DISNEY for my birthday! How could I afford this? I had already traveled more this year than I have the last five? Could I really do a fourth major trip? SO I TOOK A CRAZY LEAP OF FAITH! I bought the park tickets and forced myself into purchasing the rest by default ( A good strategy if you suffer from anxiety). I created a situation my brain wanted to fix, I needed to find money to fund the rest of a trip because I had these park tickets. I was going that October! PERIOD!

But… how did I get to this point?

*VCR SOUNDS* Let’s rewind about six months back. It was springtime. I had divined a grandiose plan to rent a house and take several of my close friends with me to Walt Disney World for my birthday. You see this wasn’t just any birthday, your boy was turning the big 3 0. I had never been, it was to be a bucket list experience for sure. I was a Disney kid you see, raised by the 90s. I used to watch the Sing-A-Long tape of kids riding splash mountain. It was to be life-changing. What better way to hold on to my youth as I became an “adult-adult”?

Well.. to start I made this Facebook group, inviting the cool kids to join me. Little by little just like my 7th-grade sleepover, people started coming up with their excuses. I wasn’t gonna let it get me down! I still had four months to plan.

Naturally, the summer flew by and it was nearly September. With 60 days until my big day I began operation, “MY ASS IS GOING TO DISNEY WHETHER YALL’ COME OR NOT”.

With no one available to travel except my on-again-off-again husband I prepared to have a ‘couples’ bday trip at WDW resort…

One problem? I only had $600 But when God open’s a window he’ll open a door! Here’s how I made it work!

Step 1: Midday Magic Tickets: For $250 of my $600

I attended Disney World for two days with a park hopper. The catch? I couldn’t enter the parks until 12pm. Not at bad as you would think, but the three parks-a-day mission we completed with this limited window was not for the faint of heart.

Step 2: Flight/Car/Stay package from an online retailer: Also $250 of my $600

This ! Dear Reader, Is Where I F*cked up!

My first Frontier flight was delayed over three hours… I now kind of understand that’s what you get with the discount airlines (NO SHADE). No big deal, we watched Netflix and the many pilgrims and voyagers around the airport.

Things start to get problematic when we arrive at Green Motion car rental at 11 pm to be told that we had until 1045 pm before we forfeited our reservation. That delayed flight ended up costing an extra few hundred bucks from the rental place. Needless to say, no matter how cheap I’m feeling I’m not going with an off-brand rental service without proper customer support again. (Enterprise, Hertz, Dollar, Budget) Yeah, I am a rental care snob now but “You live you learn”.

Finally, we arrive at the motel it’s almost my birthday! I have one hour left on the eve of 30 and I just want to crash. It was definitely the motel from the 2017 hit film The Florida Project, but I didn’t care I made it! For 600-ish too!

Day 1: Animal Kingdom>>> Epcot >>> Magic Kingdom

A wonderful birthday full of Disney Magic

Day 2: Universal Studios >>> Islands of Adventure>>>Hollywood Horror Nights

Aaron bought the tickets as a birthday gift! (Still technically within budget). We enjoyed an exhausting day at the two Universal parks and headed to the hotel for rest and showers before hitting Halloween Horror Nights. We had every intention on getting to HHN for rope drop. That’s when the trouble started.

We got back to The Florida Project motel and our key cards would not work. We tried and tried for about 15 minutes. I ran to get a manager. The kind woman came out in her Macy’s clearance pantsuit and did her best to put some “back into it” the door would not budge, and our manager may now have a broken collar bone. She called on the maintenance man/ motel dweller who employs a bevy of tools to no avail.

Three hours into the ordeal the entire door handle and key card swipe are removed and the door still held firm. Even the deadbolt was removed (SORCERY!).

The next move had to be the ghetto-ist shh I have ever seen. The maintenance worker removed the rubber insulation from the window and bashed it inward! Then, he climbed thru. Due to the liability of guests climbing thru a broken window onto broken glass, we had to tell him where all our things were in the room. He then tossed our belongings onto the bed wrapped them up in a sheet and passed it to us thru the window. We were finally free to find our new, slightly upgraded room.

We made it to HHN around 9 pm. Still had a memorable experience. The next two days included one more WDW half-day increment and a quick dip to Sea World (Aaron’s treat again…I know!).

The fact that I was on my first trip and it was my birthday made me very forgiving. This was also the first Cheapthusiast trip with flights and rental car. The trip was a success. I ended up making lifelong memories and feeling the true magic of the Orlando area.

Will I ever go that cheap again? The answer is probably not. But not because of the crappy experiences with the hotel and the car. I think that sometimes the stay and outside-of-park experiences need to reflect the caliper of vacation. It’s nice to find unreal deals and go as cheap as possible. I have learned, however, that a bad hotel experience can also make or break a trip.

Each trip is its own lesson, here’s to more memories!

Love and Respect,


Published by Josh K.

Just your average broke thoosie with expensive taste.

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