What to Pack When Renting a Vacation Home

October 1st, 2014

There are many reasons it pays to rent an Orlando vacation home. It’s often less expensive than renting resort hotel rooms, you get plenty of privacy, and you can take advantage of incredible amenities. But some people aren’t entirely sure what to expect, which can lead to some confusion – especially when it comes to packing. Take a look at these tips to help you avoid overpacking while making sure you get everything you need.

You won’t need much for the kitchen

You will need to get any food you want to eat or prepare, but you can expect your kitchen to be fully stocked. This will include cutlery, dishes, basic pots and pans, and even coffee makers. If you’re looking to have a significant number of groceries, you may consider having them delivered. For a small delivery fee you can avoid the hassle of driving to the grocery store and carting everything home.

orlandovacation_home-rental-kitchen

Bring your laundry detergent

Your vacation home will be equipped with a washer and dryer, but you’ll need your own laundry detergent and dryer sheets. You may also want to bring a collapsible hamper that allows you to easily cart your laundry to and from the laundry room.

Don’t leave your bathing suit behind

One of the many advantages of renting a vacation home is having access to your own private pool, so be sure not to leave your bathing suit behind! You’ll also want to grab your sunscreen, pool towels, and pool accessories. Note that if you’d like the pool to be heated, you’ll pay an additional fee for this. You’ll also need to let us know at least 48 hours before you need it heated, as it can take some time for it to be fully heated. However, this gives you the option of swimming even in the cooler winter months.

orlandovacation_vacation-home-pool

Disney World Wedding Parties: Finding the Right Accommodations

September 30th, 2014

Having a wedding in Disney World is a dream come true, but there are a lot of things to consider. As you go through your long list of things to plan for, you may find choosing accommodations to be one of the toughest challenges. The good news is that you have options.

Rent one or more vacation home

One unique option is to rent a vacation home – or several! These are great options if you have family traveling down who don’t usually get to see each other. They’ll each get their own bedroom but the living area will be shared. You can get one rental home for every branch of the family, or you can separate guests by age – put the older folks together and let the younger folks have their late night fun.

orlandovacation_wedding-home-rentals

The advantages of vacation homes

You may think vacation homes would be cost prohibitive but they can actually be quite affordable. In fact, they start at just $99 per night. You can choose the perfect home or homes for your needs, and you can get up to 7 bedrooms. You’ll also be able to take advantage of a wide range of amenities like heated pools, fully stocked kitchens, and washers and dryers in unit.

Choose a resort hotel

If you have many people coming who don’t necessarily know each other well enough to stay in a home together, then you can consider your options in local resort hotels. You’ll find options in virtually every price range. Many brides and grooms suggest three different hotels: one a bargain price option, one a deluxe option, and one in between.

orlandovacation_orlando-resort-wedding

Don’t expect everyone to take your suggestions

Remember that while your friends and family may be traveling down to see your wedding, they also likely have plenty of fun things they want to do in Disney World. They may want to stay in a hotel closer to Universal Orlando, or they may want to stay an hour away in Cocoa Beach and just come over for the wedding. Be flexible and focus on the positives of your upcoming wedding.

Food Allergies and Disney World: How to Prepare for Your Trip

September 29th, 2014

Having food allergies can make traveling complicated. You do want to enjoy delicious foods and relax on your vacation, yet you have to be ever diligent about taking care of your unique dietary needs. The good news is that Disney World is an exceptional place to visit no matter what your specific food allergies are. Here are some helpful facts that will make you feel more confident and comfortable about your trip.

orlandovacation_disney-food-allergiesYou can specific your needs on your reservation

If you’re making reservations at any of the many table service restaurants in Disney World, you can let them know in advance that you have allergies or other food concerns. This is a great way to let the chefs know in advance so they can be sure to have the right ingredients on hand.

Chefs will discuss your needs with you individually

At a table service restaurant, all you have to do is let your server know that you have specific needs and they’ll send the chef out to speak to you directly. They’ll take the time listen to your needs and let you know which items you can order as-is. If there are any substitutions that need to be made, they’ll personally make sure they happen.

You can have meals created just for you

Once again, at table service restaurants you can have the chef prepare something specifically for you. For example, if you’re allergic to dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs, they can take that into consideration and recommend a unique dish just for you.

You have options at counter service, too

It’s definitely easiest to deal with food allergies at table service restaurants, but there are plenty of options at counter service spots too. Each one should have an allergen guide that clearly outlines what is included in every dish. Just walk up to the register and ask to see it. It’s often the case that substitutions can’t be made, as much of the food may be per-prepared, or it may be made on the same grill that other problem foods were prepared on, but these guides will give you an idea of what’s ok to order.

4 Things to Do When Taking Your Teen’s Friend to Disney World

September 28th, 2014

There are a lot of reasons it can be a wise move to let your teenager take a friend with you on your family trip to Disney World. It can cut down on the rolled eyes and discontented texting, it can give your teen’s friend a chance to experience something new, and it can give you a chance to spend more time with your younger kids who may be more enchanted with the experience. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you take off.

orlandovacation_teens-disney-world1.         Make a plan to talk to the parents

Don’t let the details of your trip be left to information filtered between you and your teen. Set up a time to talk the parents directly. Ideally you’d do this before you even extended the invitation so that no one gets upset if the parents are uncomfortable with the trip.

2.         Get everyone involved

The friend you’re bringing along should be as much a part of the planning as everyone else in the family. Get their ideas and priorities in regards to the various theme parks you’ll visit, where you’ll stay, and what you’ll eat. This helps assure everyone’s expectations are similar.

3.         Be clear and upfront about the costs associated with the trip

orlandovacation_teens-roller-coasterMake sure you know what you’re comfortable paying for and make those expectations clear to the parents of your teen’s friend. Some families expect the friend’s parents to pay for airfare but handle the rest, while others request a specific amount of money to handle costs. Still others may pay for the room but want the teen to bring their own money to pay for their own meals. Make sure both families are on the same page and comfortable with the arrangement.

4.         Keep the other parents in the loop

Remember that your commitment to keeping the parents involved doesn’t begin and end at the pre-planning process. Give them a detailed itinerary with contact information for both you and the resort you’ll be staying in so they’ll know what to do if there’s an issue.

5 Group Travel Survival Tips

September 27th, 2014

Group travel can be a lot of fun, but it’s not without its complications. Check out this great article with 10 group travel survival tips, or read our favorite five below.

1.         Play to the strengths of each individual

Unless there’s one central planner, it’s likely that different jobs will be split up between various people traveling. Make sure you’re not just assigning tasks as needed, but are rather starting by considering what each individual is good at.

2.         Speak up when you have an opinion

It can be difficult to make your voice heard when you want the trip to go smoothly, but the reality is that if you know there’s a must-do on your list then it’s important to speak up. If you don’t, you’ll end up resentful and disappointed that you didn’t get to do it. Input is always good – even if the group decides not to follow your suggestion, you’ll know you spoke up.

disney-group-planning

3.         Create backup plans

No matter how well you plan, the unexpected can happen. Have backup plans in the event or rain, a member of the group being sick, or other things that may come up. You’ll be glad you have an alternate plan to follow if you need it.

4.         Don’t forget to check for group discounts

Depending on the size of your group, you may be eligible for many group discounts, including on your theme park tickets, resort rooms, and more. The simplest way to find out if you qualify is to simply ask every time you book a meal or reservation.

Group_Travel_Planning_Banner

5.         Keep an eye on your expectations

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try to do too much. Remember that there’s a lot to see at every park, and that doing so with a large group can be even more challenging. Try to get everyone to write down their must-dos and hit as many as possible. Anything extra is an added bonus.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Taking the Grandkids on Vacation

September 23rd, 2014

there are some steps you can take to make sure that fun is had by all. Take a look at these 5 mistakes to avoid posted by the American Grandparents Association.

2011-12-31 23.00.00-111

1.         Not synchronizing your schedules

Taking the grandkids off their regular schedule can lead to meltdowns, grumpy kids, and lots of issues for everyone. The best plan is for you, as the grandparents, to change your schedules. Find out from their parents when your grandkiddos are used to getting up, eating, and going to bed. Try to stick to these times as closely as possible when you’re on vacation.

2.         Not making priorities clear

Many grandparents assume their grandkids will want to ride as many rides as possible, or meet as many characters as possible, when their grandkid’s priorities are actually quite different. Talk to everyone going before you take off, and discuss what everyone’s priorities are. Make sure you do a little pre-planning to make sure everyone hits their most important rides or attractions.

3.         Not accepting help

If you’re like many seniors, you likely took your own kids to Disney World. You may assume the experience will be fairly similar this time around and you may decide you can handle it in the same way you need decades ago. Remember that not only have you changed, but you’ll be taking kids who weren’t raised with the same rules as your own kids. Let others help you when needed.

4.         Not following the rules of the parents

It’s a common misconception that because you’re the grandparent you can spoil the kids rotten. That may be true at Christmas, but the reality is that if you’re spending several days on vacation, you do need to stick to their parent’s rules or you may find a lot of fighting and meltdowns.

5.         Not addressing the important safety issues

You may get so caught up in finding the perfect resort hotel or vacation home, or choosing the perfect character breakfasts that you don’t think about some of the most important things. For example, make sure you have their health insurance information handy and bring a first aid kit with you at all times.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more article for Grandparents.

4 Essential Factors to Consider When Renting a Vacation Home

September 21st, 2014

Renting an Orlando vacation home is a great way to both save money and assure you have plenty of room. As you consider your options, take a look at these 4 factors to keep in mind.

1.         Location, location, location

Of course one of the first things you’ll consider is the location of the home you’ll rent. However, think this through carefully. Don’t just think about where you’ll be spending the most time – think about your entire trip. For example, if one is just a few minutes further from Disney World, but has easier access to the interstate for your trip to Cocoa Beach, it may be worth it to stay further away.

orlandovacation_disney-home-rental

2.         The amenities you really need

You may be tempted to choose a home that has all the possible amenities, and that might be the best bet for you. On the other hand, you may pay more for amenities you don’t even need. For example, if you’re not planning on doing a ton of cooking, you may not benefit from the home with the nicest chef’s kitchen.

3.         The number of bedrooms

A common mistake families make is to pair up guests to share rooms in an effort to save money when it’s really not necessary. For example, a family of 5 may choose a 4-bedroom home without realizing that a 5-bedroom home is just a few dollars more per night. Consider all your options and the pros and cons of each.

4.         To heat the pool or not heat the pool

Most homes have a fee if you’d like to turn on the pool heat. Note that this fee will only be charged for the days you actually use the pool heat. If you’re traveling in cooler months and are definitely planning to use the pool, then make sure you put your request in. It can take up to 48 hours for the pool to be fully heated so you will need to give some notice.

orlandovacation_heated-private-pool

4 Packing Tips for Trips With Young Kids

September 20th, 2014

Taking the kiddos on a trip to Disney World is probably something you’ve dreamed about for years, but there are a lot of things to consider. Take a look at these helpful packing tips to make sure you’re not leaving something essential behind.

orlandovacation_ziploc-packing1.         Pack individual outfits and label them for quick access

If you’re traveling for more than 3 days, pick out your kid’s individual outfits, place each one in a gallon Ziploc bag, and label them. This makes it simple to grab an outfit in the morning, and allows you to take outfits to the parks in the event they need to change.

2.         Bring a mini first aid kit

You’ll find basic first aid items at your resort and at the parks, but it’s always a good idea to have your own supplies on hand. You don’t need anything fancy, just your basic Band-Aids, disinfectant, aspirin, etc. You can save time by buying a kit pre-made at your local drug store.

3.         Consider your past trips

Some parents always bring way more stuff than they need, while others are always forgetting the essentials. If you’re driving you may not care if you over pack, but for those of us who fly, having extra bags can be costly. Consider what you’ve done on your past trips and try to avoid those mistakes.

orlandovacation_packing-what-you-need4.         Pack some blue electrical tape

This may sound like a strange suggestion, but you’ll be amazed at what it can be used for. As an example, consider using this tape to baby proof the electric sockets or to hang up kid’s artwork in your hotel room. This tape is affordable and easy to get off the walls.

Click here for other tips for traveling with young children.

Frequently Asked Questions About Disney World

September 19th, 2014

orlandovacation_disney-planning-helpYour first trip to Disney World can be a little overwhelming when you consider how many different things you have to take into account. Take a look at these FAQs to see if they clear up some of the confusion.

Where do I start?

If you’re just beginning the process, take some time to check out the Disney World planning information. You’ll find a wealth of information on virtually every topic you can think of.

Where do I stay?

There are hundreds of hotels, resorts, and even vacation homes for rent in the Orlando area. You don’t want to spend more than you have you to but you do want a safe, convenient place to stay. Check out these approved resort hotels and vacation homes to see which ones strike your fancy.

orlandovacation_disney-hote

What type of tickets do I buy?

After doing a little research you’ll see that there are several ticket options. Note that Disney World is made up of 4 separate theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Base tickets will allow you access to one park per day. Park hoppers allow you to travel from one park to another on the same day.

orlandovacation_best-age-for-disneyIf you’re on the fence about park hoppers, we recommend buying discount tickets ahead of time and not adding the park hopping option. You can always add it at the parks if you decide you need it, but many first time visitors find that one park per day is plenty.

What’s the right age to take my kids to Disney for the first time?

This is truly one of the most frequently asked questions but there is no definitive answer. Some parents take their kids at just a few months old, while others like to wait until they’re 3 or older. There are numerous rides that children of any age can ride, and there are lots of places for them to interact with the Disney characters.

A Dad Speaks Out: 5 Reasons to Attend Disney’s Halloween Party

September 18th, 2014

orlandovacation_trick-or-treat-halloweenMickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, otherwise known as MNSSHP, is a great way to take your kids on an extra special trip to the Magic Kingdom. A Dad’s Guide to WDW has posted a great article with the top 5 reasons to attend MNSSHP. Check it out there or read our favorite tips here.

1.         Characters, costumes, and candy!

There are a ton of characters to meet at MNSSHP, including some you won’t see at any other time of the year. Your kids can dress up and even trick or treat with Mickey and friends. It’s a truly magical trick or treating experience.

2.         A special fireworks experience

Happy HalloWishes, a unique fireworks experience just for MNSSHP is routinely considered one of the absolute best options of all the fireworks displays throughout the year. If your kids love fireworks, this is not to be missed.

3.         Unique treats

Not only can you get your free candy when you trick or treat, but you’ll also have access to a ton of specialty Halloween themed treats at the gift shops and bakeries throughout the Magic Kingdom.

orlandovacation_halloween-treats4.         Merchandise worth writing home about

While you’re searching for treats, don’t forget to keep an eye out for special merchandise that you won’t find anywhere else or at any other time of the year. Whether it’s a t-shirt with your favorite Disney character all dressed up for the spooky season, a MagicBand cover of the Haunted Mansion, there are tons of options to choose from.

5.         The “Boo to You” Halloween Parade

Just like the special fireworks display, if your kids are a fan of parades they won’t want to miss the “Boo to You” Halloween parade. With special guests, including the headless horseman, and plenty of spooky yet safe theatrics, this is a unique experience.

Click here to read about Disney’s Halloween Party