Florida is the third-most populous state in the US, and the second-most visited behind only California with tens of millions making their way to the Sunshine State each year. There are some very obvious reasons why people head to Florida, especially when you consider that the state has more coastline than any other on the mainland (yes even more than California).
When people visit Florida, they tend to spend a lot of money. If you’ve always wanted to check out the best of what Florida has to offer and either don’t want to break the bank or don’t have too much to spend, we can help. Here are five essential tips for visiting Florida on a budget.
Fly to These Two Areas
You know an area is reliant on having millions upon millions of tourists come in to dump their hard-earned money in other areas when the flights are incredibly cheap. No airport in the United States is cheaper to fly to than Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. The second and third-cheapest airlines, though? They both belong in Florida.
Florida relies heavily on tourism, so flights are numerous to even the smaller airports of the state. However, the two cheapest airports are Orlando International (MCO) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL). What makes these two even more tempting for travelers is that they offer direct flights to some of the smaller markets in the United States that have decent-sized airports.
Let’s face it, the biggest reason that many people from around the world come to Florida is because they want to visit the Disneyworld Resort in Orlando. After all, that’s why Orlando has the second-cheapest airport to fly to in the United States. If you’re going to Disney, you’ll have to show a lot of restraint unless you want to end up spending thousands of dollars on tickets, food, lodging, and, naturally, all the merchandise.
The biggest way to save yourself money is by booking far in advance and during one of the cheaper months. January, February, and November offer low rates, but September is the best time as the kids are all back at school. Shopping around for a hotel on the Disney property while also avoiding a lot of the add-ons like desserts and souvenirs (yes that will be hard) will save you hundreds of dollars.
The tickets at Disney Parks themselves become a bigger percentage of the yearly expenditures for visitors every year, but there are ways to get them cheaper. Disney offers a Park Hopper ticket that allows you to go from park to park freely. However, once you get there, you’ll realize that it can take more than two entire days just to enjoy the Disneyworld park itself. Stick to the value pass and download the Genie+ app so you know which rides have the shortest lines.
Disney doesn’t have a monopoly on theme parks in Florida, though. There are plenty of others who would rather visit Universal Studios. The opposite situation is true at Universal, where buying the multi-park pass will actually save you money. The parks (Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Wet ‘n Wild) are much smaller and will give more value over a three-day trip.
Have you ever been inside a hotel or a gas station and they have that rack near the door which is filled to the brim with traveler’s brochures? Well, most of those pamphlets, brochures, and booklets were placed there by Florida companies or the Florida tourism board. A lot of those brochures are jam-packed with coupons in hopes of promoting the tourism industry which Florida relies on heavily.
From getting half-priced on go-karts in Kissimmee to a free sub sandwich at the Miami Children’s Museum, there’s a way to save at least a few dollars at every popular tourist stop in Florida. There are even discounts for hotels in cities throughout the state, so you’ll never have to pay full price for your stay whether you’re headed to Disney, Tallahassee, Tampa, or anywhere else.
Stick to Beaches
If you really want to get the biggest Florida experience without breaking the bank, spending your time near the beach is going to be the best way to do that. Because of the insane amount of coastline that we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of hotels that are competing to give you the lowest price.
Not only that, but grocery stores are going to have cheaper options and you don’t have to worry about a theme park’s outside food policy. Also, about 40 percent of the entire Florida coastline is open to the public, giving you hundreds of miles of options to choose from when you’re soaking up the sun.