Viewing entries in
Travel Tips

Save Money on Your Vacation

Save Money on Your Vacation

As I was sitting at my computer, I was reminiscing on our recent trip to London, England and Paris, France.  It was our first trip to Europe and we wanted to experience it all, but stay within our budget.  I would like to share with you a few tricks that I used to experience a lot and save some money.  First, If you haven't already subscribed to our newsletter, then you didn't receive you free copy of 40 Ways to See, Shop and Save in Orlando.  I highly recommend you take a look at it.  There are over 40 ways to save money on your upcoming vacation.  Here are a few more:  

1.  Instead of a taxi try Uber - we used Urber in London and it is also in Orlando.  Some say that Urber undercuts the taxi, but the bottom line is that it is an easy service and it is cheaper (the basic service) than taking a taxi.  Check out our blog post about the service.

2.  Look for deals on Groupon or Living Social.  Groupon has a local website for many different locations.  I looked at Groupons in Paris (I also needed google translate because my French is a little rusty).  On the United Kingdom Groupon site, there were great tours at a discounted rate.  This was also very useful to see if a tour or attraction was popular (you can see how many tickets have been sold).  My only word of advice is if you want to do it, buy it, but Groupons usually have a limit.

3.  Book online and in advance.  Perhaps you are an avid planner, like myself, so you have everything planned for your vacation.  If so, go ahead and book an excursion in advance.  Often you will get a great rate when you book it online and in advance.  In London, I decided to go to the Warwick Castle.  I booked online the night before and saved money and time instead of purchasing tickets when I arrived.  In Orlando, when you schedule your Disney vacation in advance, they will send you your personalized MagicBand before you arrive.  How cool!

4.  Talk with the locals.  One of the reasons that I love Orlando is because almost everyone is from someplace else.  Before I left for London and Paris, I met a Realtor that was from the UK and he told me all about the area, things to do and how to save money and time on attractions.

And that is exactly why we started this blog.  To help you have the ultimate Orlando vacation.  What are you waiting for?  Your Orlando vacation awaits you.

 

Hang Out with The Walking Dead for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

Hang Out with The Walking Dead for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

PART95141079826653195Image1410798266422.jpg

If you like to be frightened, there are a few options to get your blood pressure going in Orlando.  One option is attending Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, open on select nights September 19 - November 1st.  This year,  Halloween Horror Nights takes after the famous AMC TV show, The Walking Dead.  Universal does an outstanding job making the zombies come back to life. While in the theme park, you will be frightened by zombies and other creatures.  Come prepared to scream. Here are a few tips to help you get the most of your Halloween Horror Night Experience:

1.  If you like haunted houses, and plan to go back more than once, it is to your advantage to purchase a pass.  Your options are:  Rush of Fear pass (10 nights), Frequent Fear (16 nights)

2.  Upgrade your ticket.  There are two options for upgrades:  Express Pass (which allows you to get through the line faster) or  the more expensive RIP Tour (this upgrade option allows you to bypass all the lines and receive a lights-on tour of the park.

3.  When you enter the park, go to the haunted houses to the right (near the terminator ride).  Most people go towards the left and the lines are long for the haunted houses.  Go in reverse order and save time, not scares.  There are eight different haunted houses, including Halloween, Alien vs. Predator and The Walking Dead.

4.  Enjoy some Universal Rides.  The following rides are open during Halloween Horror Nights:

  • TRANSFORMERS: THE RIDE-3D
  • HOLLYWOOD RIP RIDE ROCKIT®
  • REVENGE OF THE MUMMY®
  • MEN IN BLACK™ ALIEN ATTACK™
  • DESPICABLE ME MINION MAYHEM
  • THE SIMPSONS RIDE™

5. Go back often.  I have friends that attend Halloween Horror Nights annually.  They say that it gets better (or more scary) the closer you get to Halloween.

6.  Universal Orlando's Annual Pass holders get perks.  Premium Annual Pass holders receive a FREE  extra ticket to be used on the first three weekends.  Annual Pass holders also receive early access to three houses from 5:15-6:30pm on select nights.  RSVP is required.

7.  Book your tickets early.  Halloween Horror Nights anticipates hundreds of thousands of guests and tickets do sell out.

Let us know how you enjoyed your experience at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights.  Use the hashtags #theorlandotravelguide and #HHN24

Zombie

Zombie

Things To Do at Orlando International Airport

Things To Do at Orlando International Airport

Recently we had some relatives arrive early at the Orlando International Airport when returning from a cruise. If only we had know, we could have shared some cool things to do while at the Airport. There are a lot of interesting things to do while your waiting. Here are a few that you can try out next time your at Orlando International Airport (MCO):

  1. Spa- Located at each terminal is a Spa area where individuals can receive massages and nail service. Nothing like a relaxing massage before or after a long day of travelling!
  2. Art Tour- The Airport has a collection of 22 art works on display throughout Terminal B. If you pull up the art program for the Airport on the Orlando International Airport website it will show a diagram of all the art locations in the terminal and help you take a self guided tour.
  3. Shopping- Of course the airport has shopping! The airport has everything from Brookstone to Johnston and Murphy, from Mango to Swarovski. There are a number of stores selling many different types of items, so be sure to check some of them out the next time you are in the airport.
  4. Sky Club Lounge- If you are a Delta frequent flyer or American Express Platinum member then you may already have a Sky Club membership, if not you can purchase a day pass to the Sky Club when booking a flight with Delta at Delta.com or through the FlyDelta app. If you like you can walk in and purchase a pass on site. The Sky lounge is a nice place to spend time because of the amenities such as, snacks and drinks served all day, satellite television, personalized flight assistance, available magazines and newspapers, productivity tools like printers, data ports and fax machine access along with free Wi-Fi and most importantly spacious and comfortable seating areas nicer than the seats in the terminals.

Have you tried any of these? Let us know what your favorites are!

New Hotel on the Horizon: Sapphire Falls at Universal

New Hotel on the Horizon: Sapphire Falls at Universal

Universal has started construction on it's fifth hotel which will open up in summer 2016, Sapphire Falls. The new hotel will add another 1,000 hotel rooms to the Universal properties. The hotel will have a Caribbean theme with a colorful lagoon and waterfall. The hotel will be operated by Loews and will be a resort property with with leisure amenities such as a large resort pool, children's play area, beach area, full service restaurant, outdoor fire pit and over 130,000 square feet of meeting space. Sapphire Falls will be connected to the parks by shuttle and water taxi along with a pedestrian bridge to Universal City Walk area. Like the other four hotels on Universal property guests will be able to access the parks earlier than other park visitors. The hotel will begin taking reservations in Spring 2015. Stay tuned for updates and information as construction progresses!

Now is A Great Time to Come to Orlando

Now is A Great Time to Come to Orlando

Recently, I was talking to a friend that works retail.  She said her store is preparing for their fall merchandise and the clearance items are now have been marked down again!  That was the news I needed to hear to encourage readers that now is a great time to come to Orlando.  Good shopping isn’t the only reason.  Here are four additional reasons why now is a great time for you to come to Orlando.
  1. The parks are less crowded.  Bill and I have been to the theme parks all throughout the year. We love visiting the parks after Labor Day.  The kids are back in school and the lines are quick.  It is a great time to take advantage of your favorite rides and enjoy them over and over.
  2. The weather is a bit cooler.  It’s something about the fall in Central Florida.  It is still hot, but a little more pleasant.  You really can enjoy the evenings.
  3. It’s a great time to take in a water park, but go early.  Check out Aquatica, Discovery Cove, Wet n Wild, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.  It rains consistently in the summer and early fall around 3-5pm.  So enjoy your time at the water park early.
  4. You can find good travel deals.  You can get good transportation and hotel deals after Labor Day.  Check for Expedia, Orbitz or American Express Travel for travel deals and packages.

Five Fun Things to Do on a Rainy Day

Five Fun Things to Do on a Rainy Day

Recently, we've had some unusual weather, where it rained all day -- from dawn to dusk. I thought to myself, there are so many things that people can do on a rainy day in Orlando. I want to share a few:

1. Go Shopping. It is a great way to pass the time! Orlando has some great malls, including the Florida Mall. You can get a workout just walking around the entire mall. The Mall at Millenia offers great shopping, dining and people-watching. In addition, the Festival Bay Mall on International Drive has The Putting Edge (www.puttingedge.com) glow-in-the-dark mini golf. You can have a wonderful golf tournament!

2. Go to Downtown Disney or Universal City Walk. I know it will be raining and you will have to walk in between stores, but you can spend a lot of time at the movie theater, the bowling alley (Splitsville in downtown Disney), watching a show, or dining.

3. Go to the Theme Parks. Don’t let a little rain shy you away from the parks. I don’t recommend going to the parks if you are a roller coaster-lover, because outside rides will close when it rains, but rides that are completely indoors (Spiderman, The Mummy, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, Soarin’ and more) are functional during the rain. Please check the theme park website or app to see if a ride is open before going to the park. If you make the trip to the theme park in the rain, please sign up for our newsletter and receive 40 Ways to See, Shop and Save in Orlando. This download contains tips to help you with your park attire and tricks if you are caught in the rain.

4. Go to an indoor attraction: visit WonderWorks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Rebounderz, Hard Knocks Laser Tag or another attraction.

5. Enjoy family time and relax until the rain passes. It is very unusual for rain to last more than a few hours in central Florida. In fact, it is probably a good idea to check the weather at the destination you are going to because it could be completely dry on another side of town. If it starts to rain, spend a little quality time with your family and then plan your next Orlando adventure. There’s so much to do in Orlando!

Through TSA in Five Minutes...OK Maybe 10

Through TSA in Five Minutes...OK Maybe 10

 
TSA Gate
TSA Gate

The Orlando International Airport is quite busy.  Annually over 35,000,000 passengers arrive and depart.  All of those departures have to go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening.   Plan enough time to get to through TSA and to your gate before your flight boards because the lines can be considerably long during peak times.  The wait can be up to 45 minutes in peak travel time.  Use these tips to assist you in getting through TSA:

1.  Realize there are two lines.  I fly Delta a lot, so when you check your bags people often see the first set of TSA lines, but they don't realize that if they walk around the elevators there is another set of TSA lines.  That set is almost always shorter.  There are two sets of lines on both the A and B Terminals.

2.  Get ClearMe Access.  I love ClearMe.  It gives you concierge service through TSA.  It even works with TSA Precheck.  Subscribe to our newsletter and get a our free 40 Ways to See, Shop and Save in Orlando.  The download gives you information about the value of ClearMe and TSA Precheck.

3.  Sign up for TSA Precheck.  TSA Precheck allows you to go through TSA without taking off your shoes, removing your laptop bag or going through the full body scanner.  It is wonderful.

By using ClearMe and TSA Precheck I am always through the TSA screening in 10 minutes or less.  Try it.  You will love it!

 

Hilton Releases Amazing New Digital Check-in and Room Customization

Hilton Releases Amazing New Digital Check-in and Room Customization

Hilton-Honors-App.png

My wife and are are Hilton Honors Gold members and it was our delight to hear this exciting news! Like many other things nowadays you will be able to control hotel stays through your phone. Hilton has now made it available for Hilton Honors members prior to arrival for a booked stay choose their room from floor plans of available hotel room inventory. So now you can pick the exact room that you wish to stay in similar to how you can select your seat on a flight. On top of this you will also be able to book special requests for you room through the website or app. I have to give Hilton credit for being the first to do this and I am sure others will follow! Coming next year Hilton will also begin rolling out the ability for you to unlock your room with your phone! Man they are working hard to stay ahead of the competition! For more information check out their website for the announcement here is link to their site http://www.hiltonworldwide.com/

Hilton Honors App

Hilton Honors App

Hyatt Regency Orlando

Hyatt Regency Orlando

When visiting Orlando a great luxury hotel to stay at is the Hyatt Regency. The Hyatt Regency Orlando is in a prime location to access both the attractions and convention center. The hotel has a luxurious mix of amenities and business features that make it an attractive place to stay for business persons and families alike. The hotel has a walkway connecting it to the Orlando Convention Center. Rooms at the Hyatt are equipped with upscale features such as each room having a television in the bathroom mirror and night lights under the night stands. The hotel also has some wonderful restaurants that cater to fine dining tastes such as Napa and Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse. If you aren’t in the mood for fine dining then you can always stop in at the famous B-Line restaurant with 24 hour service. The hotel is very family friendly and has an outstanding outdoor pool with a lazy river. Enjoy the best of both worlds a luxury hotel suited for business but, well-appointed for family vacation stays.  

Hyatt Regency Orlando

9801 International Drive

Orlando, Florida, USA, 32819

Tel: +1 407 284 1234

http://orlando.regency.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

 

Uber is coming to Orlando!

Uber is coming to Orlando!

This cool ride sharing system is coming to Orlando! Uber is already in 50 cities in 25 countries across the world. Using the service is simple. All you have to do is download the Uber app, link your credit card of PayPal account and verify your phone number. When you need a ride, simply use the app to say where you are and where you want to go and a ride will come shortly. Because Uber service is considered a ride sharing and not a taxi service they are regulated as such. This means savings for you! Uber says they are 20% cheaper than a taxi.

Urber Orlando begins service Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Try Uber on your next Orlando vacation.

 

Navigating the Orlando Airport

Navigating the Orlando Airport

Airports can be intimidating.  There are lots of people, bags, wheel chairs and cute, but crying babies.  Your senses can get overloaded, which makes navigating a little difficult.  Our best piece of advice for getting around in any airport is get there early.  There is something about not having the stress of running through an airport to catch a plane.  Check with your airline concerning the recommended time for arrival.  If you have an international flight give yourself (and your bags) more time to get processed.
The Orlando airport (MCO) is relatively simple to navigate (Here is a link to a map of the airport http://www.orlandoairports.net/ops/terminal.htm). There are two terminals, A and B.  Depending on what airline you are flying will determine what terminal you arrive in and depart from.  The terminals are at opposite sides of the airport.  Within each terminal are two sections of gates, 1-29 and 100 – 129 for terminal A and 30-59 and 60-99 for terminal B.  There are two TSA checkpoints covering  two sections each 1-50 and 60-129.  Please look on your boarding pass for your gate number.  If you forget, look at the screens by the gate for the flight information.  The nice TSA agents will let you know if you are standing in the wrong terminal line, it’s is infrequent, but it has happened to me.
Once you get through TSA (For TSA tips download our free guide and subscribe to our newsletter), there will be two trains to take you to your gate.  Please make sure you get on the correct train.  It is a waste of time to realize everyone on the train is traveling on a different airline.  This will cost you about five minutes (Yes, I did it before).
Once you get to your proper section, find your gate, determine how much time you have until you board.  Sit back, relax and get ready to enjoy your flight.
If you are arriving to Orlando and you need to pick up your bags listen to the announcement on the train that tells you the terminal that you can pick up your bags.  Follow the signs for the terminal exit once you get back to the airport center.  Follow the crowd and go down one level. Look for your flight number on the signs, which will tell you what baggage carousel to pick up your bag from.

The Beaches

The Beaches

beaches-01.jpg

Visit the surrounding beaches.  Orlando is only one hour away by car from the closest beach.  If you have time, schedule a day to visit one of Orlando’s surrounding beaches.  Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Canaveral National Seashore and Melbourne beaches are to the east.  Treasure Island, Clearwater Beach, Fort De Soto Park, Caladesi Island, Anna Maria Island are to the west (on the Golf Coast).

TSA PreCheck™

TSA PreCheck™

tsa-checpoint-01.jpg

TSA PreCheck™ is an expedited screening initiative that is currently available at 40 airports nationwide. Eligible passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America can utilize the TSA PreCheck™ lanes for a quicker time through TSA.  Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags. Once your TSA PreCheck™ application is approved it is valid for five years.

Budgets

Budgets

budgets-01.jpg

When planning your trip to Orlando think about transportation, length of stay, accommodations, food, entertainment and extras. Determine what you want to do in Orlando, then estimate the cost and determine how long it will take you to save the money to reach that amount.  Next, set up a separate account and put money away each week.  Before you know it you will be ready for your trip to Orlando!  Some banks offer vacation accounts that will not allow you to withdraw funds until a specified date.  This may be a good option if you have trouble saving money.