Families looking to get away in the Easter or summer holidays may have Florida on their wish-list, but with household budgets stretched to their limits, few will imagine it could be a reality.
The good news is, it is possible to have a holiday in the Sunshine State without breaking the bank; here’s a look at how.
The key to getting a good deal on your Florida break is booking early, as this means you can take advantage of greater availability and lower fares. You can also make big savings on lots of other extras, such as car hire, airport parking and travel money by pre-booking online as far ahead as possible.
If you are booking your own flights, register on the airlines’ websites for email alerts of when special offers appear to cash in on heavily discounted fares.
But while you might assume it will be cheaper to go down the DIY route and book flights, transfers and accommodation separately, you may well get the same deal at a lower cost as a package through a tour operator – plus you’ll have the additional level of protection offered through Atol bonding if something goes wrong.
If you’re looking for a hotel in Orlando, don’t fall into the trap of paying a premium to stay in the conveniently-located ones in Disney World and Universal Orlando, as there are plenty of far more affordable accommodation options just minutes from Mouse HQ – from where it’s also easier to enjoy other attractions.
As a family, and especially as a larger family, a far more cost-effective option is to rent a villa, as you not only save on the cost of accommodation, but can also make savings by cooking your own meals, rather than eating out.
The depressed housing market has given rise to a glut of rental properties, making it cheap to stay in a villa with a private pool in the Orlando area.
With a villa rental, it is likely to be cheaper to do it yourself. Pick a well-priced condo within close proximity of the parks, and shop around for the best deal you can find on flights; book carefully, and you may be able to save yourself enough to pay for a couple of theme park tickets.
For a home from home, sign up to a home swap scheme through a well-established site such as Homeforexchange.com, HomeLink.org or Intervac.co.uk.
As you wipe out the accommodation bill and only have travel costs to pay, you can holiday in Florida for a fraction of the price, and get to live like a local without sacrificing home comforts.
It’s also a child-friendly option, as your little ones may have the use of exciting new toys, while the whole family may be able to borrow other equipment, such as bikes – and even the owner’s car.
When it comes to buying tickets for the theme parks, the golden rule is to do so in advance.
Shop around, and don’t just buy from your travel agent.
There are also some big savings to be made by booking through sites such as Teletextholidays.co.uk/Holidays/Family/Highlights/Florida-Attractions; deals include the Orlando Flexticket which offers unlimited access to your choice of five or six of the top must-visit Florida theme parks from £201 for an adult and £187 per child.
Also try Visitorlando.com/discounts-and-tickets, Completeorlando.co.uk/theme-parks/attraction-tickets.php and Attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk.
Take advantage of flex tickets and multi-day passes at the attractions, and make sure you get the free Magicard which offers discounts on a range of attractions, hotels, restaurants and shops.
For an inexpensive day of fun, it’s worth spending a day away from the theme parks at a beach or a nearby museum; there are plenty of children’s play areas located in shopping areas near the major attractions, as well as activities such as go-karting and mini-golf.
Just because you’re on holiday, you don’t have to eat out for every meal, so go to the grocery store as soon as you arrive to stock up on meals and snacks.
If you plan to be out for the day, pack a picnic in a lunch bag, and on the occasions when you do eat out, take advantage of coupons at restaurants, and look for early-bird special deals.
If you have to travel in the school holidays, book well ahead, as discounts rarely apply to travel in peak-season periods. Peak prices are Easter, Christmas, July and August, while February and October can also be higher as most schools are on half term. For some Orlando Easter family Holidays see here http://www.teletextholidays.co.uk/Holidays/Holidays/Grid-Pages/Orlando2ad2ch
If you can travel out of season, there are some big cost savings up for grabs, as tour operators offer bargain package deals in a bid to lure in visitors, plus you can benefit from better weather, and also get to avoid the longest queues for the rides.
Easter deals available through Teletext include14 nights at the three-star Econolodge Inn and Suites, International Drive, from £499 per person; based on four people sharing – a saving of 40 per cent. Departures are available from both Gatwick and Manchester airports.
For more information visit Teletextholidays.co.uk/Holidays/Holidays/Top-Deals/3-Star-Room-Only-International-Drive