A Sunny & Warm Holiday on a Budget

The recent dumping of snow we received has made me really regret not booking a warm weather getaway this winter!

 A few days ago we woke up to oodles of snow.  It was coming down so hard I couldn't see my neighbor's house!  The picture to the right shows about 2/3 of the snow we received.

Dear Florida, we miss you!

My family has visited Florida three times in the past five years.  We planned our first BIG family trip in 2007 followed by 2009 to Liki Tiki Village and last year to the Orange Lake Resort.  With the dollar being at par a Florida vacation was very affordable and still is!  At the time of our first visit my kid's were 6 and 7 so it was the perfect time to visit Disney!

How I saved money when booking my Vacation

Before I booked my first vacation I checked out the flight prices from a few nearby airports.  The difference between leaving from Toronto (YYZ) or Buffalo, NY (BUF) was staggering.  I knew that we would  be paying a bit more for direct flights but it was worth it.  Flying with the kids for the first time I didn't want to be worrying about connecting flights in February.

A direct flight (in 2007) from Toronto YYZ to Orlando MCO was $650.  A direct flight from Buffalo BUF to Orlando MCO was just under $200.  Since Buffalo is only an extra half hour drive for us it was definetly worth the extra drive to save about $1,800.

Harry Potter Village @ Universal...AMAZING!!
If you are flying out of Buffalo I highly, highly recommend JetBlue.  The first bag per person(within weight & size restrictions) is free, most other airlines charge $25 for your first bag(one way).  Everyone has their own TV, radio and lots of yummy snacks.  I even gave our flight attendant Dawn a shout out on twitter for her excellent customer service!  The kids had so many snacks it looked like a picnic and my husband and I could sit back and relax during the 2 1/2 hour flight.

Food!  Why are the kids always hungry?

Seriously, my kids are always hungry.  Before we head out on vacation I view the flyers for grocery stores near our hotel.  I have had good luck finding printable coupons for things like deli sliced lunch meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, cereal/cereal bars and juice. I always book a room with a kitchen or at least a kitchenette so we can make some of our own meals.

 Most days on vacation we will have cereal and milk with fruit or some sort of breakfast sandwich for breakfast.  For lunch, sandwiches of some sort fill the hunger gap with veggies and some fruit.  I always have extra fruits, whole grain crackers and cereal bars on hand to munch on.  I'm lucky, my family is very easy to please.

I don't always make dinner when we are on vacation, I need a break too!  Before leaving on holidays I will check out Groupon for restaurant deals near our destination.  Last year I purchased a Groupon for Lime Fresh, a mexican restaurant (we always eat here when we are in Orlando) and Giordano's Chicago Pizzaria.  I also recommend Cici pizza buffet for tasty pizzas, pasta, salad and desserts.   The staff is always very friendly and the price is right!
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake

Park Tickets!

The first time we visited Florida we purchased our passes from the Disney store here in Canada.  The second time we vacationed in Florida we visited  Universal Studios.  I purchased my tickets online from OrlandoFunTickets and picked them up when we arrived in Orlando.  This was the best deal I found on tickets at that time.  In 2009 I purchased adult park hoppers passes buy 2 days get 2 day free to Universal for $135(+tax) and $122(plus tax) for one kid pass (ages 3-9).  In total $579.21 for four people for four days..  Not bad at $145/day for the whole family. Disney tickets are almost 2 -1/2 times the price of Universal Studios.

We have also visited the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Gatorland and Seaworld.  I recommend checking out the websites of places you would like to visit.  Sometimes they will offer discounts and coupons online.

Our Next Visit

We are definitely planning to visit Orlando next year, I can't wait!  The last time we visited we stayed at Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake.  We LOVED it,  there is so much for the kids to do.  During our next trip I don't think we will be visiting  many theme parks, maybe a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa and a day at Universal Islands of Adventure(because it's our fave!)You can read about my last vacation here and here

If you are thinking about visiting Orlando you can order your FREE official Visit Orlando Vacation Planning Kit here!


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