Are you one of the 41% of Americans who use a budget to manage your finances? Even if you’re not but you’re money-conscious, planning a trip to Florida without breaking the bank is always a good idea.
Family or personal vacations don’t have to cost an arm and a leg when planned properly. Sometimes having a little extra know-how and insight into the location you plan to visit can go a long way in saving you money.
Here are 4 simple ways to enjoy a relaxing Florida vacation in the sun, without worrying over whether you’ve overspent.
1. Book a Cheap Flight
Guess when most people get a hankering to visit sunny South Florida?
If you guessed winter, you’d be right!
It’s true, during the months of December through April (ending about the time Spring break season concludes), airlines almost double their ticket prices.
All those cabin-fevered winter-haters are ready to travel to enjoy sunnier skies, and they’re willing to pay double to do it. So be smart and book your flights to southern Florida during the low-fare season.
Doing this will save you literally hundreds of dollars.
If you’re thinking of visiting central Florida to hit up Disneyland, Universal Studios, or any of the other major theme parks, it’s good to be aware that flights to areas like Orlando generally stay high throughout the year.
With the mild winters and beautiful summers, central Florida is perfect for theme park goers. This means a steady stream of tourists all year and generally high flight prices all the time.
When you plan a trip to Florida, another key to finding cheap flights is choosing the right day of the week. Generally, flights are cheaper during the week instead of weekends.
You may save close to $100 if you can be flexible and leave on a Wednesday as opposed to a Friday.
If you’re really smart and decide to fly during those off-season winter months, you might even luck out waiting until the last minute. Mid-week, winter flights are sure to be less expensive.
Some airlines have empty seats or last-minute cancellations that could set you up for a real steal as far as cost. Flexibility in when you travel is helpful here.
2. Always Check for Discounts
This little tip can be applied to just about anything you plan to pay money to do, including:
- Renting a car
- Disneyland or other theme park tickets
- Whale or dolphin watching
- Zoos and aquariums
- Boat excursions
- Scuba diving
- Hotel stays
- Bike rentals
- Any activity or attraction
Many places offer discounts for you if you’re in the military, college, a senior citizen, or have other special qualifications. The trick is, they don’t often advertise these discounts upfront.
So, never miss a chance to ask about discounts.
You can read more here about where to find discounted tickets for places like Disneyland or Universal Studios. Always search online for special deals on tickets if you have a large group.
Many cities in tourist areas of Florida provide coupon books. These are often stocked with coupons for various activities or attractions, especially when used together.
You can enjoy trying some of the local eateries while getting cheaper tickets to museums, shows, and other fun events.
If you do your research well, you will rarely have to pay full price for any Florida activity.
3. Be Hotel Savvy
If savings really are a priority for you during your Florida vacation, hotels are a major area to cut costs.
When you plan a trip to Florida, stay in a hotel that’s not on the water. You’ll get plenty of sun and sand during the day, and staying in a hotel farther from the water can save you a truckload.
Even if you do choose a hotel or resort on the beach, rooms that don’t have the ocean view will be less expensive–opt for those.
Now let’s talk freebies, two words: continental breakfast.
You’d be surprised at the quality even some smaller motels offer on their free breakfasts.
Look around before booking a hotel. Find one that offers free breakfast and you can save a buck to use later at a nice restaurant for dinner.
Bringing the kids or grandkids? Usually, children can stay free in your room.
You can call ahead and see if a rollout crib or bed can be brought up to your hotel room once you arrive.
This will save you from booking an additional room or a room with multiple beds.
Many hotels provide package deals. You can find the cost of your room bundled with golfing excursions, rental cars, restaurants, and more.
Check hotel and discount websites often to find a good bundle. They’re updated frequently so don’t jump on the first price you see listed.
4. Eat Smart
Part of the fun of visiting Florida is trying the fresh seafood and local cuisine. Of course, you can do this without eating out every meal.
Simply enjoy your free continental breakfast (see tip #3), pack a picnic lunch for the beach, and then indulge at a yummy restaurant for dinner.
After all, what’s a day at the beach without a cooler full of snacks you picked up at the local grocery store?
With U.S. tourists spending an average of $33 a day on food, you can bet the majority of that expense is happening in restaurants.
So put your wallet away, and pack at least half your meals. This will leave you more wiggle room for fun activities. You may even use those extra food dollars saved to visit a fancier restaurant for one or two meals than you would otherwise have been able to do if you’d been eating out every day.
Plan a Trip to Florida Today
Now that you’re set to plan a trip to Florida on a budget, why wait? Booking flights and hotels in advance is another great way to save on costs without running the risk of last minute problems.
For more ideas on how to plan a cheap, but luxurious vacation, check out our guide to luxury vacations on a budget. Enjoy!