As much as the question has the answer in itself already, it’s an act of judgement and how your morality works. Free Walking Tours have been around for years and have become popular for those travelling on a budget who want to see everything the city they’re visiting has to offer. In Amsterdam walking tours are popular as getting around by car is not only time consuming but won’t allow you to see everything Amsterdam has to offer. These walking tours have found their popularity through recent bloggers and word of mouth - internet marketing has allowed these tours to become popular without spending a penny.
The way these free walking tours work is a tour will be advertised on the tour company’s website or through the use of social media platforms. People wishing to go on the tour will either have to sign up with their email and confirm their attendance or simply turn up at the specified time and location given. From there the guide will introduce themselves and most importantly explain how these tours work: they work for free and reply on tips and donations from visitors who use these guides. At the end of the tour there will be the chance to tip these guides or simply walk away - but it’s simply not that simple. As much as people will already be thinking “I can simply walk away after all of this is done' 'the reality is a lot different. After watching the guide speak for two or three hours while recalling information and dates about events in the city - how can you not feel obliged to tip? I’ve been on many walking tours and have not seen anyone once walk away without putting in at least £10/€11. Additionally, some of these tours can be as small as up to four people - making it more of a private tour than a public one, which then leads many to tip even more.
Nevertheless, there’s still the question of ethics and morality coming into play here. There have been many articles written regarding the ethics of these companies including whether they pay their taxes on this income they’re receiving as it’s advertised as a free walking tour. Furthermore, many people are concerned as to how much these tour guides actually take home - how much of their profits need to be given to their management or company and how much profit is actually made? This is the point where most people’s opinions regarding free tours change as their mind flashes back to when they tipped their tour guide a less than generous tips or some even walking away and paying nothing.
Regardless, these tour guides deliver exceptional information regarding the city you’re visiting whether it be about the history, the impact of the First and Second World War or specific areas in rain or shine. This shouldn’t only be a tour that is praised by the gracious tips of €10, €15 or €20 but should be spoken about more often as these people purely rely on tips to which some tour guides will actually have to give away a small part of their earnings. Even though I’m someone who tries to save money in whatever way I can, I have found that these “free walking tours” are the furthest notion from free that could be found but I am more than happy to pay into these tours and keep them going for as long as possible.
Travel During The Off-Season
Travelling during the off-season seems easier said than done, especially if you’re planning to visit Disneyland with children. Parents and guardians can now be liable to fines if they’re found taking their child out of school for unnecessary reasons - in this case Disneyland is deemed one of them. Nevertheless, there is a way around this and it’s by taking your child to Disneyland during a bank holiday weekend or when there’s a planned inset day that happens on either a Monday or Friday. As this would mean a three day weekend which allows a weekend away without the hefty price tag. Schools should display their yearly term-dates and inset days in advance on their website. If not, then another option would be asking the school directly and in most cases they will be more than happy to comply.
Save Money on Disneyland Tickets & Deals
Before you buy tickets to Disneyland it’s worth researching what rides certain parks have on offer, to which you can plan how many you could go on. For example, if you’re with a three or four year old then certain rides and attractions have certain height restrictions to which staff abide by very strictly. From there, if you plan to go on around 20 rides then plan how quickly you could get through these rides - would you need a two day ticket or a three day ticket? Additionally, I’ve seen numerous discounts on the Disneyland website, most deals revolve around 2 days stay for the price of 1 - take advantage of these! At the moment there’s a special offer where adults can get into Disneyland for children’s prices. If you do decide to stay in hotels surrounding the park then there are even more deals including free breakfasts for children throughout their stay as well as discounts of up to 25% off.
Plan, Plan & Plan Even More!
As mentioned previously, if you’ve decided what rides and attractions you’d like to see then it’d be worth researching into whether it’s worth getting a FastPass. If you’re only in Disneyland for a day or two then see whether it’d be cheaper getting a FastPass to get you onto all the rides you’d like - they start at £39.58. This price may be cheaper than spending money on another night at a hotel, the costs of food as well as if travelling on certain days may cost more. Research into what rides would be open during your visit to avoid disappointment - Disneyland clearly states on their website which rides will be closed for specific days. Furthermore, research into what parades and characters you’d like to visit and what time they take place - from there you can plan around this while making sure you get the best seat in the house to enjoy them!
As much as Disneyland hotels offer the full experience for those wanting to experience the magic of Disney in all forms - it comes with a hefty price tag. For those who have their heart set on staying in a Disney hotel then look into the best deal for your stay - free breakfast, character breakfasts as well as discounts on your stay altogether if park tickets are included. However, when I was in Paris and Orlando I stayed off-site to firstly save money as well as being able to see the city without the constraints of being within a certain area. As I only visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World for a day it worked out a lot cheaper when taking into consideration the price of the hotel, transport to and from the park as well as transport options to get to the airport.
Free Breakfast & Bringing Snacks Into The Park
Most hotels do offer free breakfast for guests staying, which can either be a continental breakfast or a full cooked breakfast (most of these hotels will offer buffet breakfasts). In most cases you’ll have breakfast included within the price of the hotel, which is an added bonus, since breakfast will most definitely fill you up for the first part of the day. When I stayed in Paris, I used the baguettes, cheese and ham provided at breakfast to make my own lunch as well as my family quickly catching on and following suit. Disneyland allows visitors to bring in their own food and drinks with exceptions on alcoholic drinks as well as food that needs to be heated or unprepared. Visitors are allowed to bring in sandwiches, small fruit bags and anything that their heart desires that follows Disneyland’s rules. When I was in Paris for my birthday I saw a family of around 20 bring out a slow cooker with as much food as the eye could see. I mean I’m not judging - you do you, but that really is a genius idea, especially with so many people.
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
Visiting Disneyland means the unfortunate trip through the numerous gift shops placed around the park and strategically located outside the exit of rides and attractions. I splurged on a piece of clothing as it was my birthday and it set me back €40-50 but to this day it’s still my favourite jumper and has lasted well. However, small toys, plushies and even small items such as pens can cost visitors an arm and a leg - especially with children being the masters of persuasion and begging. If you use websites such as Amazon and eBay, then you can find items such as autograph books, frames as well as even personalised t-shirts for as little as £5. In shops such as Primark the whole family can get outfits for Disneyland at a price that will definitely won’t break the bank.
Bring A Small First Aid Kit & Other Essential Items
As much as this tip may sound extreme - do you know how hard it is to find plasters throughout Disneyland? Throughout the whole park there isn’t one shop that sells a small pack of plasters as they’re located in pharmacies outside of the park such as Val d’Europe (which will also cost a small fortune to get there and then back into the park by taxi). Plasters can cost as little as 70p in some shops and can even be bought in discount shops with Disney-themed plasters too. Children love running around, it’s all fun and games until they fall over and wobble over to you screaming in pain - if you had a plaster on you it saves the hassle of making your child wobble around the park trying to find one. Paracetamol costs around 30p in supermarkets and after a long day at Disneyland you may need it especially if you’ve spent all day there. Make sure to bring sunscreen with you if you’re spending all day in the heat, especially if you haven’t bought one which only needs one application to last the day. Even wet wipes save the day when children enjoy their food so much that it goes absolutely everywhere and even for a simple clean up after touching everything. A small sick bag does the trick too, even for me, as some rides are simply just too much for us all and leaves us feeling worse for wear afterwards.
Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Not only is carrying water important for those spending all day in the scorching sun to keep hydrated but also doubles up as a light refreshment throughout the day. There are tons of drinking fountains around Disneyland which beats paying the extortionate prices for a small bottle of water or even a soft drink. It’ll also save time going into certain shops and restaurants for a simple drink and most importantly it saves the environment! The amount of plastic wasted from those visiting Disneyland is ridiculous as well as those deciding to leave their waste all over the floor for others to step and trip on.
Bring Your Own Stroller/Wheelchair
Bringing your own stroller may seem completely obvious but for some the idea of lugging their stroller all the way to Disneyland seems like too much of an effort. Especially for those staying off-site who may have to use public transport to get into Disneyland - I understand how much of a nightmare than can be especially early in the morning. However, once I tell you the prices of renting out a stroller this will definitely make you think twice. The price to rent out a stroller for the day currently stands at €20 with a €75 deposit as well as the fact that by the time you get there they may all be rented out. The same price applies to wheelchairs - €20 with a €75 deposit.
Check The Weather Before You Go
As much as this tip might seem ridiculous in the sense of saving money, it’s very important as in the park umbrellas and ponchos will cost you more than loose change. If you check the weather beforehand, which can either be done by asking someone at reception or using your phone, you can see what you’ll need to pack instead of buying it at the park. If it’s sunny and hot then make sure you bring water, sunglasses, sunscreen and aftersun. On the other hand, if it’s raining and cold then make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella or a poncho.
Using Public Transport Instead Of Renting A Car
For larger families it may seem the best option to rent a car while you’re at Disneyland but for those travelling by themselves or with a small group then I’d advise taking the cheaper option of public transport. Parking at Disneyland can be a tiresome effort as well as an expensive one, with prices ranging with the different parks but it can be as much as €45. Then from there it’s a long walk into the park - in Paris it took me around 20 minutes to get from the car park into the actual park as we used a coach service.
Annual passes are one of the best options for saving money at Disneyland and they’re not too expensive either. For Disneyland Paris an annual past costs as little as €179 which allows visitors 150 days throughout the year to visit. However, there are other options which are more expensive but offer discounts at shops, hotels, restaurants, PhotoPasses and even extra time in the park before it officially opens. The most expensive option is €449 but comes with a range of incredible benefits as well as allowing visitors to come and go whenever they please within the year. As a ticket to Disneyland Paris currently stands at £94.11 for a Super Magic Ticket (2 Parks/1 Day) - you’d only need to go twice to Disneyland to get your money’s worth.
If you have your heart set on getting professional pictures during your trip to Disneyland, then it’d be worth investing into a PhotoPass. As one photo currently costs €16 which allows a digital print for the visitor as well as giving a choice of frame, you’d only need to get 4 pictures taken to get your money’s worth as the PhotoPass is currently priced at €59.99 which allows visitors to get their photos digitally rather than in physical prints. It’s a win-win situation as you can develop these photos once you return home from your visit for as cheap as 40p a print as well as not having the task of carrying around the photos all day.
Disneyland Gift Cards
Gift cards make a wonderful present if you’re given money for Christmas and don’t know what to do with it - it doubles up as cards that your kids can spend in the park. Once the money’s gone - they know that they can't buy anything else so it makes them choose their souvenirs wisely. Additionally, in Disneyland parks there is a small fee for those wanting to withdraw money from ATMs so instead visitors should purchase a Disney gift card directly from one of the shops. Not only does this eliminate the small fee charged by ATMs but allows a budget for spending to take place. If you only put a certain amount on these gift cards, then once they run out you’ll know where your spending stops and can save money for your next trip to Disneyland.
Check Your Receipts
I’m sure we’ve all glanced at our receipts after spending money in Disneyland, to check how much our bank account will suffer after buying just a simple hamburger and a drink. Regardless, there’s an option to get discounts at specific retailers but the only downside is that you will need to purchase these goods on the same day. A small discount is better than no discount - especially if you plan to get a few souvenirs from Disneyland.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Throughout Disneyland there are lots of different freebies that are mostly unknown to visitors. The first being a birthday badge or a first visit badge which you can get as soon as you enter the park in City Hall - it also doubles up as a souvenir. Watching the parades is also another free option which saves standing in the heat in endless queues but allows you to sit down, eat a quick snack and have a quick drink while enjoying everything Disneyland has to offer. Additionally, there’s small pieces of candy and sweets being offered if you go into the many sweet shops and places around Disneyland. It might be small but in all honestly it’s better than nothing when needing to satisfy a sweet tooth. During special events throughout the year there are free face painting opportunities and even crafts for kids to enjoy for free.
Disneyland offers all visitors the opportunity to connect to their WiFi which isn’t half bad - it’s fast, allowed me to check my emails as well as make FaceTime calls to my family and friends. For those who don’t have data roaming options with their phone plan then free WiFi not only saves money but would allow your battery to stretch out throughout the day. There’s apps available for each park you visit - which include an interactive map which uses your location to tell you the rides nearest to you and their current waiting times.
Read Up On Reviews
There’s nothing worse than going into a restaurant, having the worst meal imaginable and then having to pay an extortionate price for it. Luckily websites such as TripAdvisor come in handy here as hundreds of people have reviewed specific restaurants around Disneyland, with comments on the service, food and overall price. A quick search will be able to tell you if it’s worth it and more importantly if you’ll be getting the most for your money. There are hundreds of different forums within the website which helps if you have a dietary requirement or any allergies - people are more than happy to help other visitors to Disneyland who have been in the same position.
Even though I’ve visited lots of different countries, experienced different cultures as well as doing activities I could’ve only dreamed of - having a bucket list reminds us all of our achievements throughout our life. Searching through hundreds of different lists allowed me to make my own bucket list - with the main goal of completing mostly all or if I’m lucky all of them before I die. When I’m older I’ll be able to look back upon my list, with many of the goals crossed out and be able to see the highlights of my life. My bucket list does include personal goals as well as travel based goals. Throughout the upcoming years ahead I will update this blog post and my bucket list when I complete a specific goal - adding the date I completed it on.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.