Last month my son and I went to Orlando with Visitorlando.com to help with its research to show how families can save money when on holiday.
Orlando is of course, without a doubt, the most amazing place ever and our experience will stay in out hearts forever.
It’s understandable why it’s such a dream destination – my son and I will never forget meeting Mickey and Minnie (ok, not sure you ever grow out of that), the amazing rides at Universal Orlando, Disney World and Seaworld, and not to mention shopping, dining and sunshine.
But it’s also one where families save hard to get to and although Brits are great at finding the best deals for flights, hotel and currency, it seems we let the purse strings a bit to loose when it comes to spending when we get to our destination, resulting in many coming back in debt.
If you’re planning a trip to Orlando this year or next year, then make sure you stick to your set budget with my hot tips and make sure your memories aren’t ruined by money problems when you return.
- Plan ahead. Book park tickets in advance to take advantage of the best price as well as bonus vouchers. At Universal Orlando, for example, advance two park bonus ticket cost less than two single day entry tickets and also includes all-club access to the live entertainment at Universal CityWalk.
- Visit tourist websites like VisitOrlando.com, where you can see what’s on, bag some discounts, and help plan your visit.
- When in Orlando, I found it useful to buy refill cups, rather than paying for drinks every time. A refill cup allows you pay a one-off fee with free refills throughout your stay and includes a souvenir cup you keep. It can save you money if you’re staying there for a couple of weeks.
- Make use of your resort and hotel facilities. Orlando resorts are fantastic. So make the most of the entertainment there, such as the pool and in-house entertainment. One of the hotels I stayed at was Cabana Bay, which had a bowling alley as well as two pools and a lazy river. Part of your holiday should incorporate time spent in the hotel, as it’s something you have already paid for and should use.
- If you stay at a Disney/Seaworld/Universal resort, then you can also take advantage of free transport to the parks as well as free transport to and from the airport. Parking at the various parks and car hire costs may add up otherwise, so this can help you keep within your budget. Other perks include early access to the parks and extended hours.
- Free kids dining. If you book early, some packages will offer you free kids dinners.
- Late August/early September is the cheapest time to visit Orlando. This might not suit everyone if you have children at school, but if they are under school age, then take advantage of the off-peak season.
- Smaller attractions in Orlando are also worth a visit. Wonder Works for example is fantastic if you want to spend a morning or afternoon there.
- Don’t pay for things using a credit or debit card that charges currency fees, as this cost can add up. Pre-paid currency cards are good alternative, as they offer competitive rates and no fees when making purchases and ATM withdrawals. They can also help you stay within a budget, as you can only spend the amount you load onto it.
According to the research from Visit Orlando, 60% of families say they go abroad with a budget, but 25% exceed it by £250 and one in five between go over budget between £250 to £1,000.
Make sure you come back with nothing but beautiful memories, whether it’s Orlando or any other holiday destination – plan ahead and stay in control of your finances.