Booking a family trip to Florida can be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do for your family. However, there is so much to consider, and research is key!
There are so many things to see and do in Florida. There are the parks, the beaches and the experiences to consider and prior to booking your holiday it’s vital to have done your research to make sure you get the best out of your time.
Prior to coming to Florida, I underestimated how much time was needed to be spent on the holiday itself. There were so many things to consider; the accomodation, the hire car, things to see and do and the schedule of activities to plan. However, I’m happy to say Richard had all of this in hand and our trip went smoothly.
Without the research and time spent beforehand it could have all gone horribly wrong. Planning was key and in the end we had a schedule of activities that were planned to precision (but it ran so smoothly that it didn’t feel like this). We followed a timetable and planned what we’d like to do every day. Our accomodation and car hire was great and we had the most fabulous holiday.
It got me thinking and I realised that so many others may underestimate the planning and detail required for this kind of trip (I know I did) so I decided to share our hints and tips with you. I can’t take full credit for some of this as Richard was chief organiser but I’ve shared his tips with you too. I hope you find them useful.
- Book flights, accomodation and car as early as possible
We booked as early as we could and we used Sky Scanner to compare flight prices, dates and times. We booked flights with Thomas Cook for £1,000 each. The flight was okay but I’ve heard Virgin are the best (they were £200 each extra). It really depends on what you’re looking for. We searched and booked our villa via Trip Advisor and found that the villa prices were very reasonable – you could pay as much or as little as you’d like. We stayed in a villa 25 minutes away from Disney (High Grove) and our villa had 5 bedrooms with a pool and jacuzzi. It was perfect for what we needed and we paid £1,200 per week for 8 of us. It was in a gated community so we felt extra safe. There was a club house, mini golf and pub/restaurant on site too and Walmart was 5 minutes away by car. We also used a comparison site for the car, booked 6 months early and hired a 12 seater minibus for £1,000 for two weeks (with one named driver). We found the price reasonable and by using Sky Scanner we had every confidence because they were a reputable company.
- Plan your trips to the parks
I can’t stress how important this is! Take your time to familiarise yourself with all of the parks, research every park and see which activities, rides and attractions are in which parks so you can decide on which ones you’d like to visit (see my other Florida-related posts for insights). We (Richard) were very proactive with this and used the Tour Plans website, which helped us to plan our itinerary for the Disney parks, Universal Studios and other parks.We then researched how the ‘fast pass’ tickets worked and found out that some of the rides could be booked via this method. These tickets can be booked for adults and children and they can be booked 30 days in advance. Once we were there we also found out that each of you could have 3 fast passes per day but, once you’d used them you could collect extra fast passes too. It’s a good idea to keep checking the Disneyworld app to see if any of them become available. The app we downloaded was invaluable and since all the parks have free WiFi you can access it throughout the day. It’s a pain checking it every hour but so worth it and we avoided hours of queuing.
- Pace yourself
When you plan your itinerary, make you plan in rest periods. We had a few days where we went to the park at 1pm and then stated until 10pm close and that way we saw the Disney night shows – they’re well worth it. We had other days where we’d get up early and head out to the parks but then come back to the villa for a chilled out evening and swim and this really helped with pacing our trip. We also planned two days of parks and then one day of waterparks and we rotated this over the two weeks we were there. This meant that we could do as little or as much as we’d like on the water park days, we could either go on all the rides and slides or we could rest and relax in the shade (it really is too hot to sunbathe in summer).
- Pack the essentials
As it was our first time here we weren’t sure what to bring. However, we had a few tips shared from friends so we each brought a pac-a-mac, comfy shoes (a must), a hat for the parks and of course, plenty of sun cream. These were all ‘must haves’ but there were many other hints and tips we picked up along the way and I’ve shared them with you in other Florida blogs.
Visiting Florida really is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for us. We may come back but as it’s very expensive to come and spend time here, we wanted to plan as much as we could beforehand to wring every last drop out of this experience. It’s such an amazing place to come to!
If you’re visiting with family, have a wonderful time. It truly is a magical place and it’s a place where we’ve created so many amazing memories with our family.