10 Advantages to Renting a Vacation Home

November 9th, 2015

As you plan for your next trip, one of your first decisions will be where to stay. There are numerous advantages to choosing a vacation home, including the following ten benefits.

1.         Laundry facilities

Having laundry right in your vacation home saves you money on baggage fees because you can pack less, offers optimal convenience, and saves time by eliminating the need to visit a local laundromat.

2.         Cooking at home

Cooking in your vacation home saves you money and makes it easy for the entire family to sit down and share a meal every night.

orlando home rental kitchen

3.         Extra space

Perhaps the biggest advantage of renting a vacation home: everyone has plenty of privacy! Why pack into a hotel room when you can all spread out?

4.         Affordability

This one is a shocker for many people, but the reality is that renting a home is often more affordable than staying in a hotel. For example, you can rent an Orlando vacation home starting at just $99 per night.

5.         Community

Most home rentals are located in communities with other homes for rent. You’ll have a great mix of people who know the area well and others who are experiencing it for the first time with you.

6.         Lots of variety

You can stay at vacation homes year after year and never stay in the same one. You’ll have different décor, amenities, and more.

gameroom orlando vacation home

7.         All the comforts of home

When you rent a home you’ll truly feel that you’re at home! You’ll have comfortable living quarters, your own bedroom, and all the create comforts of your home.

8.         Privacy in spades

The extra room you have in your vacation home translates to tons of privacy! You can put the kids to bed and stay up late watching movies with your sweetie without worrying about waking anyone up.

9.         All the technology you need

Vacation homes will vary by location, but generally speaking you can expect to have wireless internet, cable TV, and other technology. Feel free to bring your laptop and get some work done, or snuggle down on the couch with the family and watch your favorite TV shows.

flat screen tv orlando vacation home

10.       Less crowded

Why fight crowds to get to a pool when you can stay in a home with a private pool? Why fight crowds to get to your car when you can pull up right into your own driveway? Private homes are only as crowded as you make them!

5 Airport Tips for Parents of Special Needs Kids

November 6th, 2015

Traveling with your special needs kid doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. There are many things you can do to make flying simple. These five tips will get you started on your planning.

1.         Call the TSA

The TSA has a helpline specifically for those with special needs. You can call them at 1-855-787-2227 with any questions you have about their procedures, screening policies, and anything else that will make you more comfortable at the security checkpoint. When you call, a representative will either give you the relevant information you need, or if you need specialized assistance they’ll refer you to a disability expert at the TSA. They recommend you call at least 72 hours in advance so they have the time they need to coordinate support at your checkpoint if necessary.

airline travel special needs

2.         Bring plenty of small bills

From taxi rides to airport shuttle drivers, there will be numerous people who help you out on the trip. You want to get from one spot to another as quickly as possible, so be ready with singles and five dollar bills. This allows you to simply tip and move on without waiting for change.

3.         Check in ahead of time

Skip the lines in the airport by checking in ahead of time. You can print your boarding pass with almost all airlines, and most will now let you show your boarding pass on your phone. However, keep in mind that in some cases boarding passes must be loaded individually on your phone. This can cause hold ups when it’s time to board the plane, so it may be worth it to print them out and have them on hand.

4.         Backup plans can save you

It’s great to plan and it’s great to be prepared, but that preparedness should include backup plans. You might have car trouble on the way to the airport, you may miss a connection, or your flight may arrive late. Make sure you have plans for each of these scenarios: one-hour delays, multi-hour delays, and total cancellations.

airplane travel with child

5.         Breathe deeply and smile!

You’ll spend months planning and preparing so you can have a lovely vacation. When the day finally arrives, don’t forget to take a deep breath and smile! You want to enjoy this special time with your children and your family. Don’t get so caught up worrying that you forget to be present for your trip.


Traveling with Teens: Minimizing Angst and Maximizing Thanks

November 5th, 2015

You’re excited about your upcoming trip to Disney World but you’re worried that your teen won’t have the time of their life. Many people, teens included, are under the mistaken impression that Disney is just for kids. The truth is that there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. Let’s consider some tips to maximize fun!

Give your teens space and privacy and watch them flourish

Teenagers need space – it’s simply the reality of the situation. You can give it to them by renting a vacation home instead of a resort. In a vacation home they’ll have a room to themselves, yet you’ll be in the room next to them so you can keep an eye on them. Giving them space and privacy at night and in the mornings will help them recharge and be more involved in family activities during the day.

teens bedroom orlando vacation home

Keep them involved

A successful trip to Disney World involves plenty of planning. If you have everything planned out with no input from your teenager, they’re likely to bristle at the idea of having no control. On the other hand, if you ask for their help choosing restaurants, deciding which FastPass+ reservations to make, and which parks to spend the most time in, then they’ll feel involved – and they’ll be much more excited about the trip as a whole.

Consider giving them a night to themselves

Depending on the age of your teens, and their maturity level, you may consider giving them a night to explore on their own. Obviously you won’t hand them the keys to your rental car and encourage them to drive around Orlando by themselves, but you can travel to one of the parks together, give them a little pocket money for dinner, and let them go off on their own. For security sake, check in with them via phone every hour or two and give them a clear curfew.

teens island of adventure universal orlando

Set a budget and stick to it

You do want your teens to have a good time, but you don’t want to bribe them to do so. To avoid arguments over souvenirs once you’re in the parks, set a budget before hand – and stick to it! You could give them a prepaid gift card with a specific amount on it and tell them they can spend it as they’d like, but once it’s gone it’s gone, or you could set a daily allowance and let them know what it is. No matter how you decide to do it, make a plan and follow through with it.

Group Travel Packing Tips

November 4th, 2015

As the person in charge of your group trip, it’s up to you to make sure everyone is on the same page. The good news is that you don’t have to pack for everyone going on your trip, but the reality is that if someone leaves something important behind you’re the one they’re going to turn to when they need it replaced. To avoid issues, share these tips for group travel packing.

Have everyone get scanned copies of their essential documents

Whether your travelers are coming from outside of the U.S. and need passports, or they’re traveling domestically and simply have state IDs, it’s essential that they have backup documents in case something happens to the originals. Have them scan photos of each and then store them in their secure email accounts. If something happens, they’ll have access to all the details they need to get replacements right away.

orlando split up valuablesSplit up the valuables

It’s wise not to carry credit cards, cash, and other valuables in the same place. Imagine that you have everything in a single pocket and the worst happens – you lose it. When it’s all in a single spot, or within a single wallet or purse, you’re increasing the chances of losing it all. Instead, instruct travelers to keep most of their valuables in their vacation home or hotel room and bring only the cash or credit card they need for each adventure.

Pack a backpack the right way

Did you know that there’s a right and a wrong way to pack a backpack? The best tips are to put lighter items at the bottom and heavy items on top. This makes backpacks feel lighter because the pack will now rest on the lower back. It’s also smart to place items you need most on top. This allows travelers to just grab what they need without removing everything from their backpack.

Cut down on clothing when possible

Baggage fees are getting out of hand, and lugging many suitcases along can be a pain. Instruct those traveling with you to try and cut down on the amount of clothing they need. One great tip is to pack multi-purpose items. For example, pajamas may also be used as a swimsuit cover.

orlando travel packing tips

Wrap up those shoes

This tip is something people rarely think about but it can make a big difference: pack extra shoes in plastic bags. Why? Because they can stink – especially after they’ve been worn at Disney World for a week.

5 Tips for Traveling with Senior Citizens to Disney World

November 3rd, 2015

If you want to take grandpa and / or grandma on your next vacation to Disney World there are some special factors to consider. The Points Guy recently posted a great article called 11 Tips for Traveling with Senior Citizens. There were some great tips in there, and our favorite five are listed below.

1.         Book non-stop flights whenever possible and avoid regional jets

Non-stop flights are much better than connecting flights for several reasons, including minimizing the chance of missing a connection and reducing the total travel top. Sometimes it can be worth it to pay more for a non-stop flight, and it may also be worth it to travel further to an airport that offers non-stop flights. Smaller jets like the Embraer ERJ or Canadair CRJ series require passengers to climb a flight of stairs, which can be challenging for seniors.

senior citizen flying tips

2.         Be careful with senior discounts

Some airlines claim to offer senior discounts but they can be misleading. In some cases they are the exact same price as a regular ticket, and in other cases they are real discounts but they only work on specific flights. Be sure you’re not paying more for the rest of the family to fly just so you can save a few dollars on one senior ticket.

disney world breaks senior citizens3.         Be mindful of flight times

Grandparents may not have the energy they used to, and traveling early in the morning or later in the evening can take its toll. Talk to the grandparents to learn what their preferences are, but generally mid-morning or early afternoon departure times will work well for everyone.

4.         Bring medications in carryon bags

This is a tip that’s as relevant to everyone in the party as it is to seniors, but it’s important enough to highlight: never put medications in checked bags. They can get lost or delayed, and getting ahold of your doctor to have them reissue a prescription can be a pain. The better option is to put medications in small pieces of carryon luggage or even a large handbag. It’s also smart to bring a list of medications and dosages in the event a doctor’s visit is necessary during your trip.

5.         Plan but don’t overplan

A trip to Disney World will be more successful if you have a plan, but don’t overplan either. Your grandparents are slower than they used to be, and your plans should account for their need to take frequent breaks. You may want to plan one activity before lunch and one after.

5 Anniversary Activities in Orlando

November 2nd, 2015

You want your anniversary to be extra special, which is why you’re traveling to Orlando. Here are five incredible activities you can plan to ensure you have a truly memorable trip to Orlando.

orlando balloon ride couple1.         Go up, up, up for the time of your life

Orlando Balloon Rides depart every day, when the weather is cooperating, of course. Depending on the conditions on the particular day you decide to book your balloon ride, it’ll last between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. They can cruise just above the trees or soar thousands of feet! No matter how high they go, or how long you’re up there, you can expect to get a truly unique, romantic view of the theme parks, beautiful Florida wilderness, orange groves, and more!

2.         Truffles & Trifles

This is a true foodie dream come true. Truffles & Trifles has been operating for more than 30 years and offers unique, romantic cooking classes with themes including Caribbean, gluten-free, and desserts and wines. Just remember that these classes fill up fast! You’ll pay $135 for both of you, which includes your food. You can bring your own wine for a delicious treat.

3.         The Orlando Eye

One of Orlando’s newest attractions, the Orlando Eye, is taller than the statue of liberty. Located in the I-4 corridor, you’ll enjoy a trip up in a climate-controlled capsule where you can see the entirety of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Each capsule can hold up to 15 people and the entire ride takes about a half an hour. However, you can also book a private capsule for your special anniversary date.

orlando eye attraction

4.         Step back in time at The Courtesy

For couples who love nothing more than a good cocktail, The Courtesy has much to offer. There you can enjoy a night themed around Prohibition. With incredible hand-crafted cocktails, homespun punch, and tons of draft beers, well drinks, and wine, there’s something here for everyone. They also have cocktail classes twice a month that give couples the chance to learn the history of various drinks while they learn the art of creating them.

5.         Disney fireworks

Don’t overlook one of the most time-honored romantic traditions in Orlando – the Disney fireworks. There are incredible fireworks displays every night of the year – weather permitting. Be sure to snag a spot early as it can get quite crowded during peak times. It’s well worth the wait though – you won’t see better fireworks anywhere in the world.

disney world fireworks for couples

Cinnamon Roll and LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern

October 30th, 2015

Located near the Beast’s castle in the Magic Kingdom, Gaston’s Tavern has quickly become a must visit counter service food stop for those in search of the now famous Cinnamon Roll and LeFou’s Brew. The tavern is not hard to find since there is a statue just outside just as large as Gaston’s ego to welcome guests to this French village pub.

gastons tavern magic kingdom

The cinnamon roll has become the most popular in the park and diners need to be aware this sweet treat is extremely large! While not as gooey as some cinnamon rolls this one is loved by many who feel it is moist enough. Some diners do wish for more icing on their roll, but if you ask the tavern will add more maple sweetness on top for you.

cinnamon roll gastons tavern

To wash it down there is nothing quite like LeFou’s Brew. This no sugar added frozen apple juice drink has a hint of marshmallow and is topped with a all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. You can get your brew served in a souvenir stein or goblet for just a few dollars more so you can have the perfect vessel to try and recreate this Disney World treat at home.

lefrou's brew gaston's tavern

Both the cinnamon roll and LeFrou’s Brew are served all day, so you do not have to make this your morning stop. You can visit anytime during the day for a snack while you are in the Magic Kingdom.

4 Ways to Stay on Budget When Renting a Vacation Home

October 30th, 2015

A trip to Orlando is always exciting but it can be downright luxurious when you rent your very own vacation home. Many travelers are shocked to find that the cost starts at just $99 per night, but even with this low price it’s still important to stay within budget. We’ve compiled four different ways you can ensure everyone has a great time – without destroying your savings account.

1.         Cook meals at home

One of the biggest advantages to renting an Orlando vacation home is the ability to cook meals in your home. You can simply take a trip to a nearby grocery store, get the food you need, and prepare all meals for your family, if you want to. Most families will eat some meals at home and some out and about in Orlando. The home you rent will come equipped with the basic things you need to cook and eat a meal: pots, pans, plates, silverware, etc.

eating in orlando vacation home

2.         Bring your specialty equipment with you

If you’re the type who must have their French press coffee, or you need a juicer to maintain your healthy lifestyle, bring those items with you! Time and time again we see people forget these essentials at home, only to go to a local store and buy duplicates. Save your money by anticipating these issues ahead of time.

3.         Do your research

Many of us get into “vacation mode” where you’re simply not thinking about the realities of our bank accounts. A great example of this is people who simply go to whichever grocery store is nearest. This may be the upscale market with huge markups. Before you head to Orlando, get on the internet and find out which stores are closet to your home, find out which gas stations are cheapest, and be prepared to get the best price on everything you need.

orlando grocery shopping

4.         Take meals and snacks into the parks

One of the most common misconceptions people have is that you can’t take food or drink into the Disney theme parks. This is simply untrue! You can take any food you want and you can take any non-alcoholic beverages. The only real rule is that you can’t take a hard cooler – soft coolers are just fine. As a result, pack lunch, pack snacks – pack plenty of water! You can save a ton by just eating your own delicious food instead of waiting in line for half an hour just to eat overpriced snacks.

These tips are a great way for the frugal family to save big on their next trip to Disney World without having to sacrifice much of anything at all.

7 Quick Tips for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

October 29th, 2015

If you’re like most parents of a special needs child, then the idea of taking your family on an Orlando vacation is likely both exciting and scary. The good news is that countless families have been there before you, and they have incredible experience and suggestions. Here are seven quick tips that can help you take control and feel confident in your abilities.

special needs child travel1.         Be brave!

Special needs kids and their families are often afraid when they’re away from home. Don’t let your fears take over your trip – be brave and remember you’re here to have fun!

2.         Planning is essential

Your best chance at success comes from planning, planning, planning. Of course you’ll also have to be flexible, but having a foundation will make the trip go much more smoothly.

3.         Talk to your doctor

Your physician knowns your kid better than anyone. Ask them for recommendations, tips, and get information for your travel pack:

  • List of all prescriptions your child is taking
  • Physician’s letter describing your child’s condition and needs
  • Phone numbers of your physician
  • Recommendations for physicians in Orlando
  • Health insurance information
  • Contact details for medical supply companies you may need access to

4.         Pack extras

special needs child toyThe old adage is true here: better safe than sorry. Bring more than you need of the special items your kid is going to want. When you have a few extras on hand, you won’t risk your own meltdown if a family member drops or spills something on your child’s medicine, workbook or other necessity.

5.         Remember: you’re in charge of your personal essentials

Don’t assume you can find exactly what you need once you’re in Orlando. If your child needs a specific toy, medical item, or security item, the last thing you want is to be halfway across the country from home and not be able to find it. Make a checklist of every essential item you need and double check it before you leave.

6.         Find the best transportation for your needs

Orlando has innumerable transportation options. You can rent a car, take free resort shuttles, or flag cabs. As you consider your options, don’t just take cost into mind. Is your child going to have a much more peaceful time if you spend an extra $20 getting a cab versus taking a shuttle that may stop several times?

Tips for Your First Disney Vacation as a Single Parent

October 28th, 2015

There’s a lot for any parent to learn about a Disney vacation but this is doubly true for single parents. We’ve compiled some of the best tips you’ll find to get you ready for your upcoming trip.

1.         Have a ride ready for you when you arrive at the airport

The Orlando airport is one of the busiest in the country, and there are taxis everywhere you look. However, during peak travel times, the limited number of cabs the authorities allow to line up can’t handle all the travelers in need of a ride. As a result, you can often wait 30 minutes to get into your cab. The last thing you want when you finally get your little one off the plane is to make them wait in a long line. Call ahead and arrange for a private car or cab to pick you up. You’ll be glad you can skip the line and get right to your ride.

2.         Accommodations are more important than anything else

hawthorn suites orlando resort

There is nothing as important as choosing the right accommodations. While you’re bound to enjoy your time in the parks, you need to sleep in a place that’s calm, peaceful, and kid friendly. There are many affordable resorts in the area or you can rent a vacation home for as little as $99 per night. This gives the kids their own bedrooms – which allows you to stay up and enjoy some peace and quiet at night.

3.         Don’t eat at restaurants every night

There are tons of restaurants in Orlando – and most of them cater to the young ones. It can be tempting to eat out every night, but there are a few reasons you shouldn’t: the cost and the overexcitement. Eat a relaxed dinner in your resort or your vacation home at least every other night. It gives you some savings in your pocket book and gives the kids a chance to relax and unwind.

4.         Don’t discount babysitting

disney world kids clubs

Too often we see parents who wouldn’t think of hiring a babysitter while on vacation. The truth is that you do want to spend as much time with the kids as possible, but this doesn’t have to mean you don’t get some time to yourself. If your kids are the early-to-bed types, you can hire in-room babysitters to come after they’re in bed. If you want some time in the afternoon or evening, take your little ones to a kids club where they’ll get to play with other kids, take part in activities, and have a great time. Many kids say this is one of the highlights of their trips!