On a recent episode of The DVC Show, we focused on Disney vacation planning tips, and I brought up spreadsheet vacation planning. Each time that the points charts come out, I plot out my year’s worth of trips using a spreadsheet. I know a lot of DVC members have their own means of tracking their point usage, but I thought it would be fun to share how I use my very basic spreadsheet in case it’s helpful for anyone who wants to start tracking their points.
How It Works
I have three identical sections for each of our three contracts: BoardWalk, Bay Lake Tower, and the Grand Floridian. Within each section, there’s a column for the vacation date and resort details, points left to use, and points spent. When the points charts are released (typically around December), I’ll fill in the spreadsheet with potential trips.
For the February 2022 Use Year, I started out with 127 points from our BoardWalk contract since I had borrowed points the year before. The 127 points went in the Points to Use column. I love to travel in March, so I estimated a short stay there using the point values for a Garden/Pool View Deluxe Studio. We typically stay in studios, but I used the values for the Garden/Pool View since it is the category with the most availability. The estimated total points for that stay went in the Points Spent column. I then subtracted the estimated total points from the 127 I started with for the Use Year. The leftover point amount then went into the Points to Use column for the next trip.
I continued this process for each of our prospective DVC trips for the year across the three contracts. Basically, my spreadsheet works a bit like balancing a checkbook. It tracks how many points have been used and how many are left to use from row to row.
Once I plot out all the trips for all three contracts, I mark my 11-month booking dates in my calendar to set alarms for 8am. After I actually book a trip, I’ll go back and make any adjustments as needed. For instance, you’ll see in the image above that the March 2022 BoardWalk trip ended up being in a Standard View Deluxe Studio, so I was able to spend less points than estimated.
Banked or Borrowed Points
You’ll notice that some cells in the Points Spent column are shaded in peach. Those are color-coded as trips that have banked or borrowed points. A little note on those cells tells me how many banked or borrowed points were used for that trip.
How It Helps
Using a spreadsheet helps me stay organized with multiple contracts. I’ve been using this spreadsheet since we added on our second contract, and it wasn’t as clear which contract I should use for each trip. Spreadsheet planning also helps me better understand how far I can stretch our points. If I know that we want a trip to celebrate a special occasion or see a certain festival, I’ll prioritize the points for those trips and then plan any other trips around that using the points left over.
Lastly, I found the spreadsheet helpful when I am looking to modify a reservation. It’s easy to forget which reservations used banked or borrowed points, so I mark that in my spreadsheet. This way, I know if there are points that must be used by the end of the Use Year.
I’ve updated the spreadsheet a little as I continue to use it. When park reservations started in 2020, I added a tab for that, so I could see at a glance which parks I have booked and which restaurants we may want to book when it’s time for advanced dining reservations. It was also good for planning out what I want to pack.
One tab I’m especially glad I added was one that tracks every DVC room we have stayed in since we became members. I take note of the resort, date, villa type, booking category, and room number. Then the very last column has notes. I’ll jot down anything about the view, noise, location, or anything that makes that particular room stand out. I’m not big on making room requests, but this section is a great reference when I do want to make a request. It’s also fun to see just how many trips we have had from our DVC points!
This is just one way to look at spreadsheet planning for DVC stays, but I hope this was helpful! If you are big on spreadsheet planning, how do you like to organize it, and do you use it to track anything other than point usage?