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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Shelling at Playalinda Beach

Shelling at Playalinda Beach

A straight-shot east of Orlando, an hour by car, gets you to Playalinda Beach. Part of the Canaveral National Seashore, NASA launches rockets into space just below the beach. Isn't that cool? (No rocket launches the day we were there!) Open to the public daily between...

Best vacation toys

Best vacation toys

I'm a technology mom. But the best vacation toys are the old fashioned ones that were around before pixels: crayons and paper. sand and water. These "toys" do not require charging cables. They turn on that part of the brain that gets turned off too much these days....

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Every year we stop and see something new on our way to Florida. We've explored Givhans State Park, South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. This year we explored a castle in Saint Augustine, Florida! It is a walk-in park (Adults $10.00,...

Family Fun in Florida

Family Fun in Florida

We didn't tell our kids that my sister and her family were stopping by for a visit. They had no idea that their cousins were even going to be in Florida. So when the doorbell rang and we opened the door..... it was screaming mayhem! After our ears stopped ringing and...

Lokai – find your balance

Lokai – find your balance

We went to visit friends in Clearwater Beach earlier this week. While we were there, I got a blue Lokai bracelet. Why did I buy this bracelet? Five reasons: #1. I like bracelets. #2. It was pretty. #3. It is made from some pretty cool materials. #4. It has a good...

Circle B Bar Reserve

Circle B Bar Reserve

We tried something a little different. We drove to the Circle B Bar Reserve half way between Orlando and Tampa on Lake Hancock. The drive into the Reserve is shady and beautiful because of the huge oak trees draped with moss. Very swampy!

Why we got an annual pass at Typhoon Lagoon!

Why we got an annual pass at Typhoon Lagoon!

Do you want to know what I like so much about Typhoon Lagoon that I bought an annual pass for the family even though we will only use it for one month? Well, for starters, it’s cheerful. It’s Disney, so the customer experience is top notch. …

A quick jaunt to Canaveral and Cocoa!

A quick jaunt to Canaveral and Cocoa!

Escaping to a beach is high on the average person's what-makes-you-happy list. But not all beaches are the same. We hopped in the van, spur of the moment, and drove east from Orlando for an hour until we crossed the bridge to Canaveral National Seashore....

Our favourite Disney Waterpark because…

Our favourite Disney Waterpark because…

You can get sun anywhere in Florida, but it's hard to beat getting it at Typhoon Lagoon. The beach music surfs into your ears as soon as you walk through the tiki huts at the front gate. The palm trees sway, and there are thousands of pounds of nuclear white sand...

cocoa beach
Cocoa Beach is a 1 hour drive from Orlando

Tips for a great vacation

Use VRBO

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.

Homework

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.

Phone

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!

Apps

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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