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Traveling to Orlando on a Budget

Author: Matthew Williams

When choosing a vacation destination, few American cities come to mind more quickly than Orlando. The Central Florida city has built an entire economy around tourism, with theme parks, family-friendly entertainment and hotels galore. Every year, thousands of families break their budgets to give their kids Orlando vacations, but you can visit this one-of-a-kind city without overspending. Traveling to Orlando on a budget requires advanced research, smart planning and setting some ground rules ahead of time. Just because you commit to not breaking the bank in Orlando, does not mean you cannot have an excellent time. Follow these guidelines and you can have the time of your life in Orlando on a budget.

Avoid Peak Travel Times

Christmas, summer break and spring break are the worst times to vacation in Orlando. The city is a tourist madhouse during these times; there are just too many people to relax and have a good time. At the parks and other tourist attractions, most of your time is spent waiting in line. Moreover, following demand theory, things cost more when demand is higher. If you want to visit Orlando when everyone else wants to visit the city, expect to shell out more cash.

The best Orlando travel times are right after the other tourists have gone home. Schedule your trip for mid-January, early May or mid-September. When the city has unusually low tourist volume, hotels and parks lower prices to entice people to visit.

Check Both Airports

Orlando International Airport is located minutes from International Drive, where you find many of the city's tourist destinations. Most Orlando visitors fly into Orlando International. This airport offers some great flight deals due to the abundant supply of flights to and from Orlando every day. However, if securing the lowest airfare is of paramount importance, broaden your search to include Orlando Sanford International Airport in suburban Sanford. This airport is smaller, farther from the urban core and puts you about 30 minutes from all the tourist action, but you can often save money by choosing Sanford. Allegiant Air, a value airline that provides service to many small and mid-sized cities, flies into Sanford and frequently has unbeatable prices. If you are coming from a city that Allegiant services, investigate this option.

Skip Disney

An Orlando trip without Disney is tantamount to heresy, especially if you have children under 12. However, there are few quicker ways to break your budget than to submit yourself to Disney's coffers. You can make the trip so fun that your kids will not even miss the mouse. Take them on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, which navigates the canals of historic Winter Park. It is full of wildlife and beautiful scenery. Engage their competitive nature at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf, a one-of-a-kind, challenging, pirate-themed miniature golf course. If visiting a theme park is an absolute must, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are slightly less expensive than Disney, and the rides are bigger, faster and scarier.

Choose Your Hotel Wisely

Orlando has so many hotels that you should never overspend on lodging. Before committing to a reservation, remind yourself that due to sheer numbers, there is almost certainly a better deal available. International Drive alone has a surplus of hotels, most of which offer constant specials to lure guests away from the competition. Conduct plenty of research on hotels, and do not be afraid to play hotels against one another to get the best deal. Really, there is no reason to ever spend more than $100 a night on an Orlando hotel, especially if your trip is during a nonpeak time.

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