You may not think that the word affordable could apply to a holiday in America’s sunshine state, but with some careful planning, preparation and a little bit of flexibility, you can enjoy a trip to Florida without spending your entire life savings.
The key is in identifying what aspects of a holiday in Florida are non-negotiable for you and your family, such as a trip to Orlando to visit its renowned theme parks, and what elements you are willing to forgo or curb your spending on.
Keep reading to find out some ingenious ways to save money and still enjoy a trip of a lifetime to Florida.
Go out of season
If you have the choice, avoid the school holidays at all costs, as travelling to Florida during this time can be as much as twice the cost as other times.
Of course, Orlando is popular all year round due to its amazing theme park offerings, but after late August, when the schools start going back, you can grab a great deal on both flights, accommodation and the all-important Disney World tickets which will be greatly discounted.
If you do have to go during the summer months, make sure that you pack plenty of sunscreen, as it will be very hot and the price of these products at the parks is extremely high.
Save money on accommodation
If you are travelling in a fairly large group, either with friends or as a family, it can be a lot more cost effective to look into the option of Florida villa Holidays rather than staying at one of the hotel resorts which can be extremely pricey.
There are also many other benefits of booking a villa for your Florida holiday; you will have your own private pool, which is just what you may need after an exhausting day queuing at a heaving theme park. A villa is a lot quieter than a resort hotel, again exactly what you will crave after a hectic day; and you have the option of being able to explore other areas such as the Gulf Coast if Orlando gets a bit much and you desire a change of scenery.
Make sure you budget for admission prices
If you are planning a family trip to Florida, chances are that you will be wanting to go to Disney World, however, this can be very expensive, so make sure that you factor the cost of these into your holiday budget. The cheapest tickets are available in September, January and February, so these are the ideal months to visit if you can; however, Disney are known for releasing ad hoc deals so be sure to remain vigilant at all times if you want to grab a bargain.
All four Disney parks; Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios come under the same single pricing structure and you can either purchase a one-park-per-day ticket or a ‘park hopper’ which allows you to visit multiple parks on the same one day. You should also note that Universal Studios are not part of Disney, so if you want to visit them, you will need to purchase separate tickets.
Save on merchandise
If you are visiting a theme park in the UK, how often do you buy toys for your children in the gift shops available? Probably not very often as you know you can get the exact same toys at a local supermarket for half the price.
It is no different in the U.S. Americans visiting their local theme parks would never dream of buying their children the official merchandise within the parks themselves; they would head straight to Walmart or a Disney outlet mall where the goods can be anywhere from 50% to an earth-shattering 80% cheaper.
If you are particularly savvy, you could even pop to one of these shops before entering the park, hide the toy in your bag and miraculously make it appear when you are queuing for a particular attraction.
Embrace public transport
Car hire can eat up a substantial part of your budget, so if you are feeling adventurous and don’t mind a bit of forward planning, then why not utilise the excellent public transport systems instead?
Orlando has recently been acknowledged as having one of the best public transport services in the state; ranking especially high for accessibility and convenience. You can use LYNX buses to get to most of the main attractions in Orlando and a week’s unlimited use costs under $20.
Only eat lunch out
It is your holiday and of course you do not want to be constantly cooking and cleaning up after your family, but if you want to cut costs, the best way to do this is to limit yourself to one meal out per day. As a rule, lunch is quite a bit cheaper than eating out for dinner, and if you have had a busy day with your children, do you really want to spend a large proportion of your budget on a meal with cranky and tired kids? Probably not.
Therefore, it is recommended to eat your breakfast and dinner wherever you are staying, obviously it is a lot easier to self-cater if you are staying in a private villa than a hotel resort, and then treat yourself to lunch out if you fancy it. It is also advisable to take snacks and cold bottles of water to the resorts to keep your family hydrated in the heat, and to ensure that you do not have to be constantly buying expensive snacks at the kiosks.
Of course, you do not have to do all of the above; if you really can’t bear the thought of dragging your large family onto a bus every day, then don’t do it; opt to hire a car instead. You know what is best for your family and what you need to do to ensure that you all experience the trip of a lifetime as that is what a holiday to Florida should be.
An unforgettable experience.