Thanks to the recession and its after effects many of us are still feeling the pinch when it comes to our annual holiday. But saving money doesn’t have to mean missing out – not all package holidays cost the earth and with a little bit of thought even the most once-in-a-lifetime of trips can be within your grasp.
Florida holidays are not known for their affordability – but perhaps they should be. You may think that you still can’t stretch to that long-promised family holiday to Walt Disney World but the USA represents good value for money as a destination overall and many Orlando hotels offer rates which may surprise you.
The key here is to stay outside the main resort areas. The Universal resort (home to Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure theme parks) and Walt Disney World itself are both home to numerous hotels, but these themed palaces are some of the most expensive places to stay in Orlando. For more affordable accommodation look instead to the hotels around International Drive, Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee. These areas are still just minutes from Orlando’s attractions, and many hotels located within them offer a free shuttle bus service to the theme parks, as well as all the facilities you’d expect from an American hotel including pools just as refreshing as any Disney can offer.
But it’s not just accommodation that causes a headache when it comes to budgeting, tickets into the theme parks and other attractions can also contribute. Instead of just turning up at the gates and paying through the nose for the privilege, why not book your tickets before you leave the UK? Not only does this save time once you’re in Orlando but you’ll also find plenty of great deals, including the 14-day ultimate ticket which allows access into all of Disney’s theme and water parks for two weeks at a much lower price than purchasing separate tickets every day. The added benefit of this is that you can leave and re-enter the parks as many times as you like so you can pop back to the hotel for a nap, some time by the pool or a cheap snack.
Food is the other principle culprit when it comes to maximising that credit card bill. If you’re taking the whole family to Florida consider staying in a villa so you can shop at the supermarkets and cook for yourselves – over two weeks this could save you hundreds of pounds. If you’d rather not be preparing meals on holiday, you can still save a bundle by buying snacks to take into the parks with you and then leaving before dinnertime to eat in restaurants away from the crowds. Seek out the places where locals eat – they’re bound to offer better bargains than any of Disney’s themed eateries and are often better quality too.
Finally, remember that watching the pennies and worrying about the credit card bill isn’t the best recipe for a fun holiday so splash out occasionally and enjoy yourself – you’ve earned it.