4 weeks.
3 kids.
1 million memories.

This is how one self-employed family of 5 from Ontario spends one month in Florida on a budget. You can too!

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Flagler Beach, FL

Flagler Beach has an undeniable Old Florida feel to it—a realness that comes from carefully letting things be. Though plenty of communities have gone the way of guarded gates protecting pricey condos, Flagler is tin-roofs, faded paint, and open porches for afternoon cocktails.


LEGOLAND is for lego lovers. It is geared for kids aged 2 to 12. Is it Disney? No. LEGOLAND is not Disney, and it doesn’t try to be. Think of LEGOLAND like a great big fair where everything is made out of lego that’s been hit with “The Cragle.” …

Cypress Gardens

A wild botanical garden planted 80 something years ago on the edge of the swamp, Cypress Gardens is out of place. It’s not the juxtaposition of roses against tangling vines that doesn’t fit. It’s the loud design of the surrounding acres…

Florida SunPass

Florida likes its toll roads. Toll gates loom over every route, like giant metal bottlenecks in your destination game. For years we collected our coins and threw them at the toll basket at speeds becoming only professional basketball players come racecar drivers.

Hilton Head Island

We are all circadian-geared to enjoy evenings more than mornings, so when we arrived on Hilton Head Island at 9:00pm we walked around the cozy streets smelling the sulphur air and listening to the scratch of palm trees. The chill stripped off like a zipper suit…

Disney Springs

photo courtesy of disneysprings.com Shops, boutiques, cafes, live music and entertainment. My favourite place to eat in all of Orlando is Fulton's Crab House (an enormous ship permanently at port with multiple levels of seafood extravagance). But this is not outdone...

Cocoa Beach—put it on your list!

Miles of white sand, gentle waves, throngs of people. That's what Cocoa Beach is. For $10 each, we bought 3 body boards (available at Ron Jon but we got ours at a dollar store 5 minutes from the beach) and the kids filled my camera with shutter-priority action for two...

Ron Jon at Cocoa Beach

I can't think of Cocoa Beach without linking the Ron Jon Surf Shop to it. When you get tired of lounging on a beach towel, splayed like bacon, frying your skin to a crispy shade of golden-red (I'm not a fan of flaking out), you can take an air-conditioned break in the...

St. Augustine

St. Augustine has an oldness to it. And there's a reason for that. It's the United States' oldest city, founded in 1565. Some say it is the most charming city in all of the USA as well. Cobble stone streets, weather-worn stone, and spanish moss hanging from big old...

cocoa beach
Cocoa Beach is a 1 hour drive from Orlando

Tips for a great vacation


Hotels are expensive. To save a bundle but stay somewhere amazing, we use VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner). Condo owners post the availability of their units, a description, pictures and rates. We have had a great deal of success booking incredible condos using VRBO.com. We used it to book our stays in Reunion, and Southwest Florida. More…

Drive or Fly?

We have done both. My husband drives down our minivan no matter what because renting a van for a month is expensive. $300 in gas/hotel gets you from Ontario to Florida in two days. We check out flights from Buffalo airport where we have found flights for as cheap as $70 + tax a seat (don’t fly out of Pearson YYZ! You’ll never get away with less than $300-$400 per seat). At that rate, it might be worth it to you to fly. More…

Where to stay?

Doing Disney? Stay at Reunion Resort. 15 minutes from the gates of Disney, Reunion offers gorgeous 3 bedroom condos, dozens of pools and 3 top-rated golf courses for as cheap as $100 a night. More… Not doing Disney? We like Southwest Florida. The gated communities of Naples, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island give you access to miles of beach, fine shopping and dining (or not) and more.

10 days of Disney

Disney is expensive if you do it for 3 days. Disney becomes much more affordable if you do it for 10 days, or buy an annual pass (which cuts the cost of Disney in half). Don’t forget Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, the two Disney water parks! How can you afford it? Here’s how. And did you know there are lots of things you can do at Disney without paying a cent for Disney? More on that here.

Tips for a great vacation

A little preparation can make a big difference. Here are some things to consider…

Pack iPads

What?! iPads?! On vacation? Yep! On the plane, in the car, or for homework, you can’t beat what an iPad (etc.) can offer. We loaded ours with (mostly) educational apps so that the time they spend with their faces stuck in a screen is time wisely spent. Here are some apps I recommend.


Taking your kids out of school for 3 extra weeks in March requires permission. Clear your extended vacation with both the principal and individual teachers. Then, ask for a homework package. And make sure you do the work. 30 minutes in the morning (don’t do it after a long day) will keep your kids caught up.


Throw your phone into airplane mode! I found out the hard way that turning off your phone’s cellular data doesn’t actually turn it off. Buy a U.S. Travel phone package ($90+) for texting/data. Or only keep in touch by using your unit’s Wifi signal. Make sure cellular data is turned off. As an extra tip, take out the sim card. That guarantees you aren’t using data!


Photos are my thing. They lock in your memories. Two indespensible tools I use to take my photos above just-okay are Instagram and Over. Instagram adds filters to your photos to improve them and give them different looks. Over lets you add text and symbols to your photos. Quick and easy to use with incredible results!

Some of the ways we spend our time
  • Doing homework 10% 10%
  • Swimming 90% 90%
  • Fun in the sun 100% 100%
  • Relaxing and lounging 50% 50%
  • Disney 40% 40%


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