Every year we pack up and go off to Florida, we love it there and we have begun learning our way around quite well. We have stayed in hotels, rental homes, time shares, condos and what we have found is that there are many ways to go to Florida, and stay frugally, it just really depends on what your family prefers.
My family finds the best kind of freedom in a rental home. So year after year we drive around, looking at all the possible rentals, and housing areas that offer great places to stay. We familiarize ourselves with where the supermarkets are, the hospitals(with kids, you can never be too careful) and of course how far all of the attractions are. Our biggest want is a pool and at least 2 bathrooms. Staying in many of the hotels, cramped in one room to just save money is really not fun when everyone has to go to the toilet at once and trying to track across the complex to get to more facilities does not work. I have talked to so many moms that have tried cramming up to 6 people in a room, with sleeping bags and one bathroom and they all tell me the same thing, by the middle of the trip, everyone is exhausted, sick of each other, and the room is just too small. There are options beyond cramming a lot of people in one room just to save money.
I think what is often over-looked when making vacation plans whether it is to Disney, Universal, Sea World or the like is not just the accommodations, but the ramifications of those accommodations from sleep deprivation to meals. Sleep is a mandatory after a day of touring, park visiting or even traveling. There is no way to enjoy a vacation when you are wiped out, it just does not happen(we have traveled with a sick child and the trip went from bad to worse in a milli-second).
Think about meal preparations, what if you could have a wonderful kitchen to wake up to in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, prepare a piece of toast, microwave an egg, or even eat bowls of cereal. You can enjoy the meal poolside, or in front of the television, or even just in the kitchen, where seating is plentiful and you don’t even have to take your pj’s off. To me, that is relaxation before the busy, adventurous day. What I have learned from my kids is that they don’t want to be rushed off to changing their clothes, they want to hang out a bit in the morning, watch television,eat and swim and then go, and hey this is their vacation too, so they should have what they want within reason. How many times we struggled with getting the kids ready for those ‘free buffet’ breakfasts that are done by 9am, have age restrictions or require adult meals to be purchased before they get free foods. With a kitchen at your beck and call there are no struggles. You prepare your breakfast, what you want, when you want, and you can pack up your lunch to go to the parks. You save so much money packing sandwiches and waters, that you won’t even believe it, think about 5 people eating in a park, one meal alone is over $30 with beverages. We have consistently packed up our lunches while we are in the parks as it started out as a precaution for my one son with so many allergies but it just made it so much easier for us. We are not waiting in lines for food, and we are not fighting crowds for tables. We simply, sit down, eat when we feel like it, and then move on with our day and with about $30 more a day x 5 days, you have easily saved over $150.
I think about breakfast as a great time in the morning to regroup, map out the day ahead so we maximize our time in the parks or tours we are off on and a time for the kids to just get ready to greet the day. We are able to do this when we wake up and move from our bedrooms into the kitchen. The kids love the pool so they generally take that morning ‘dip’ before we head out and everyone is content. While a few red flags may go up for some moms who might be saying, “I am not cooking while I am on vacation!”, fear not, with all the foods available in the stores, from frozen to basically prepared, you can even buy pancakes that are done and just need the microwave. I hardly ‘chef’ while we on vacation, but I sure do look forward to just getting moving at my own pace.
Night time is a great time to retreat to the kitchen as well. We generally go out to dinner, because it is easiest, but many nights after a full day in the park, we have cranky kids who just can’t be pushed anymore. It’s great to be able to pick up a meal, rotisserie chickens, sandwiches, pizzas, and just kick back by the pool, in front of the television or in the game room. We have this luxury when we rent a home and a little side perk of renting, you don’t have to leave a tip, or purchase beverages which means your bill is about 25% less right from the beginning.
There are many great options for vacationing, but make sure to begin your vacation with planning and a home rental from the right people, and grab the right amenities. I know we have and we do each year. Start getting your frugality on and begin planning your Florida trip, and make sure you check out this great rental home as one of your options. Want more frugal tips on traveling? Check out more great articles here.