Got a bad case of cabin fever and feel ready to hit the road – or the skies?
There is no doubt that Orlando is a world-class vacation destination whether you are planning a trip with your family, a group of friends, or on your own. Between good weather, endless theme parks and proximity to gorgeous Florida beaches, this subtropical city is a gold mine of entertainment and relaxation. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most affordable place to visit.
If you’re looking to make the most of your trip to Orlando without breaking the bank, be sure to create a simple travel budget before you go. These essential money-saving tips will help you keep that budget low without sacrificing your family fun.
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1. Consider visiting from January to February or September to October
One of the best tips for saving money on travel, especially on flights and hotel room rates, is to travel out of season. The cheapest times of the year to visit Orlando are January and February (right after the holiday season) or September and October.
Even if you cannot travel during these months, it can be helpful to avoid rush hour, although it can be difficult to do if you are traveling with school-going children. Peak season tends to be anytime when kids are out of school, and this is especially true in Orlando, given its status as a family destination.
But if you can do it, avoiding summers and vacations can cut your expenses significantly, and being able to visit on non-holiday weekdays will likely help too.
2. Don’t forget to check out Southwest Airlines
Most major airlines operate to and from Orlando, and you can often find the cheapest flights through flight aggregators like Google Flights. However, Southwest Airlines is not included in searches for Google Flights, so be sure to check out their website as well.
Southwest Airlines is one of the nation’s top airlines for budget travelers who don’t want to sacrifice all amenities. Orlando is also one of the airline’s operating bases, so it’s easy to find flights there from most major cities – and often those flights to the southwest are the cheapest option. .
For comparison, a recent flight search below for flights between Chicago and Orlando shows that you would save at least $ 22 per person by traveling to the Southwest. If you plan to save a bag, you could save $ 70 or more.
- Google Flights: $ 143 or $ 144 on Spirit or United respectively, no checked baggage included
- South-West.com: $ 121 with two checked bags included
3. Stay at an off-site hotel with free shuttles to the park
Orlando’s theme parks have no shortage of world-class resorts and on-site park hotels. They can be extremely expensive, however, and chances are you won’t be spending a lot of time in your hotel anyway.
You might be tempted to book a cheap hotel away from the theme parks to keep more money in your savings. However, when you add the cost of a rental car, gasoline, parking, or cab rides, it will often cost you more than staying near parks.
There are many budget hotels near some of Orlando’s most popular parks that include both airport shuttles and free park shuttles, so you don’t have to worry about paying for transportation. There are also many mid-range park hotels that can offer the best value, such as the Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Ramada Inn.
4. Prepare lunch and snacks and make breakfast in your hotel room.
Meals are usually the area where you have the most flexibility when it comes to your budget. And this is also the area where most people tend to overspend, especially if you are visiting theme parks. While eating in the parks can be part of the experience, it also tends to be very expensive.
As soon as you arrive at your hotel, visit a grocery store or order a grocery delivery for food that can be used for snacks, packed lunches, and breakfast in your room. Sandwiches, cereals, granola bars, and microwave meals are all economical and easy to store in your hotel.
Most parks allow you to bring food outside, so bringing food and water shouldn’t be a problem. If trying park food is important to you, you can limit yourself to one meal a day at the parks. Plan your meals in advance by researching restaurants in the area, reading reviews, and choosing a few dining experiences that you think are definitely worth the price.
5. Keep a separate cash reserve for souvenirs and buy them outside of major tourist attractions.
It’s easy to let souvenir shopping soar, especially when you’re faced with mountains of cute stuffed animals, limited edition collectibles, and beggar children.
That’s why you’ll want to set your souvenir budget before you go and stick to it by bringing that amount in cash. This will help you stay aware of how much you are spending on memories. Once that reserve of money is gone, you know you can’t buy any more.
Unless you want something specific that can only be found inside parks, you’ll usually find much better deals at souvenir shops outside of parks, major attractions, and airports. Bargain stores, gift outlets, and souvenir warehouses are usually your best bet.
Getting a good travel credit card or Disney credit card well in advance of your vacation can help you save even more on your trip. With a little planning and self-discipline, you can keep more money in your bank without feeling like you’re missing out on a great Orlando adventure.