Traveling During the Holiday Season to Orlando

As many of you know and have experienced, traveling during the holiday season can be somewhat irriatting, uncomfortable and exhausting. It is pretty much the same way even right after what the airline deems as the “busiest time of the year” to fly…

Every year after the Thanksgiving holiday, my family packs up our gear and heads East to Orlando, Florida for my husband to work at the booth his company exhibits every year at the I/ITSEC show. It has kind of become our family’s annual vacation as the company my husband works for graciously flies us all out for a week or so to enjoy the sights and sounds of Orlando. This trip we just got back from has been one of great adventures, with its ups and downs, but all-in-all very, very enjoyable and relaxing.

I learned several things from this trip that I thought I’d share with those of you who are thinking about coming to Orlando for work or for a vacation..

1. Hotel – I know you already know this, but it is quite key to choose your hotel wisely. We selected the Homewood Suites (by Hilton), as it is within walking distance to the Orlando Convention Center, the “strip” of Orlando (International Blvd.), and because it offered for an affordable price suite accommodations (affordable is the operative word here). When we arrived late at our hotel on Tuesday, we checked in and were greeted by a very nice and accommodating gal with a different name, like Ximama, or something. I was impressed by the appeal of the lobby (if the lobby sucks, then knowing from experience… RUN!!!!), and while I was waiting for her to finish up my check in realized they had a free shuttle for my husband Paul to take to the show. “Thank God,” I thought knowing I could sleep in a bit longer than when he had to get to the show for work…. selfish, I know, but I LOVE to sleep! We got into our rooms, which were two master bedrooms with full baths and the kitchenette and living area were in the center. Very, very nice and clean, with updated appliances, flooring and furniture. It felt very clean, which for me is something very important b/c I can kinda be a “germ” freak. Don’t get me wrong, I still bought some disinfectant spray and sprayed everything down just in case…. I would completely rate this hotel a 10 out of 10. They were fantastic, answered all of my questions, got me everything I needed (even offered to do complementary grocery shopping if I wanted it.. wow). Had a great pool, even though it was too cold to use it. And even was able to deliver to me via taxi my son’s diaper bag I’d left behind on my way taking him to the ER for a high-temp… All of this to say, the hotel was FANTASTIC! And suites are truly the way to go when traveling with kids…

2. Maps – I’d also highly recommend that you map out the area before you travel. Know where the local grocery stores, walmart, malls, and hospitals are just in case. You never know if you’ll need it to use them or find them quickly…

3. Coupons – investigate options out there for coupons ahead of time. Check out the places (restaurants/amusementparks/leisure activities) online to see if they have any coupons/discounts available. A dollar two here and there does add up!

4. Airline – we happened to fly Jet Blue this time, which is a wonderful airline. However the only thing I didn’t like was that they didn’t sell any food to purchase, so if you happened to take off from a very small airport (like Long Beach, which doesn’t have many “fast food” options) then you have to purchase food on the plane… B/c they didn’t sell food and I only brought enough for the kiddos, we only nibbled all day and missed two meals. Needless to say, we were STARVING when we landed in Orlando. That beer and food at TGI Fridays was one of the best we’ve ever had… or was that just the starvation talking….

5. Amusement Parks – do your homework here too. We went to the Animal Kingdom and Sea World this time. Both great parks and had a lot of wonderful animals for our kids to enjoy. You could also see the entire park in one day, which was great too. However, I think we are spoiled here too with Sea World, Disneyland and many great Zoos nearby. So, I’d suggest checking out the places we don’t have here, such as Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Busch Gardens in Tampa….

WE’ll enough of the travel-guru in me… off to bed as I am truly exhausted from a wonderful, eventful trip to Orlando…

Ash

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