Florida is one of the prime summer vacation spots. From its inviting themed hotels to its distinctive restaurants and world class theme parks, there are few states that have more to offer, especially during the summer. But being such a tourist attraction has its drawback – for those wanting to plan a visit that is. The unique quality of the area as well as its laundry list of things to do and see drive up the cost of having fun in the sun in Florida. Fortunately, however, with a little ingenuity, you can enjoy all that Florida has to offer and still stay on budget. Use these tips to stretch your vacation dollars and learn how to save money and have fun in Florida this summer.
Stock up on necessities
The little things that you pick up and purchase without even thinking about it really eat into your vacation budget if you’re not careful. Likewise, you’ll end up paying a premium for things like toothpaste, sunscreen and aspirin if you have to purchase them from the hotel or resort where you’re staying. So do yourself a favor and stock up on the necessities before you leave. This includes things like hairspray, deodorant, sunblock, pain reliever, aloe, and more. And if you’re flying and/or have packing restrictions make a list ahead of time and stop at a discount store prior to reaching your final destination.
Consider different accommodations
Hotels can get pricey, especially if you’re staying several nights with a large family in Florida. If you really want to make your vacation dollars go further, then consider renting a condo or home instead. The demand for lodging outside of the main attractions in Florida is lower, so you’ll automatically get a better price on these options. And you won’t be paying a premium for multiple rooms. You can also factor in some additional cost savings by using the kitchen in the condo or home to prepare some of your food instead of having to eat out for every meal.
Look for fun outside of the “attractions”
Sure, everyone loves to visit the major attractions like Disney World and Universal when they’re in Florida, but the costs of these activities can add up very quickly. Save a little money by taking advantage of some of the free entertainment in the area. Staying at lodging with a pool? Spend a day poolside with snacks and games. Or look up a beach or a shopping area with a free children’s play area nearby for a free day of fun.
Avoid paying for airport parking
Parking alone can tack a hefty price tag onto your stay, so look for alternatives to paying separately for airport parking if you’re traveling via plane. Ask a friend or family member to drop you off and pick you up from the airport. Or look into “Park & Fly Packages” available through hotels that are close to the airport. Most of these options include free parking for several days or up to a couple of weeks with a night’s stay. And most airport hotels provide a free shuttle to the airport with any stay.
Consider alternatives to car rentals
Particularly in Florida, rental cars can be expensive. If at all possible, avoid getting a rental car and take advantage of the ever-expanding ride sharing opportunities available in most cities. Uber and Lyft are both widely available throughout Florida and include drop-offs to many of the popular attractions, like Disney World and Universal. If you do have to have a rental, look for options outside of the airport. Many times the surcharges and taxes included in an airport rental are double that of an off-site rental. And be sure to consider fuel economy when deciding what size vehicle you and your family need.
Cut costs on food where you can
You obviously have to eat while you’re in Florida, but you don’t have to go all out at every meal. Consider some simple ways to save and splurge only where you really want to:
- Consider accommodations where breakfast is included.
- Bring snacks and drinks with you. Especially if you are driving, packing a cooler can save you time and money and is often much healthier than fast food options.
- Share meals. Kids are often tired and excited at mealtimes, so they likely won’t eat as much as usual. Look for kid-friendly restaurants and then split meals to cut costs.
- Look for coupons. Most hotels and even local businesses will provide coupon books for local eateries and attractions. Look for coupons before deciding where to eat and be sure to read the fine print to find any specifics about days, times, etc.
Stay at a park longer
It may sound counterintuitive, but the price of most attractions goes down the more days you stay. If you plan on visiting Disney World or similar attractions, ask about pricing for extended stay trips beyond 3 to 4 days to get the best pricing. This strategy is also nice because you have a chance to see even more of the park and can really enjoy everything without feeling the need to cram everything in to one or two days.
These are just a few of the many ways you can save money and still have fun in Florida this summer. Nevertheless, following these tips and any other money-saving ideas you come up with will help you make the most of your time in the sunshine state without maxing out your budget.