Article writen by: Astrid
Travelling & Holidaying in Orlando as a single parent – Some hints, tips and ideas
When I was planning my second trip to Orlando as a single parent with my two children who were then 5 and 8 my parents and some of my friends were horrified. “Why are you going there again, you’ve already been there once and it must be such hard work with two little ones and you on your own?”.
What they couldn’t understand was that, in my opinion Orlando and WDW is one of the easiest destinations to travel to as a single parent.
I first went when my two were 3 and 6 and yes, there were times when it wasn’t easy, however, with the right planning and knowledge it can be made a lot more stress free and I think the most difficult part of the actual trip is the journey to your hotel. So, here are a few hints and tips that I have discovered in my times travelling as a single parent.
Travel light! That’s my biggest tip. If you do have two tinies chances are that one is in a buggy so having as little baggage as possible is essential. I have to say that I never travelled alone with a child that couldn’t walk, and I think in those circumstances you certainly would have to make use of porters within the airport. Try and travel with just one suitcase, one on wheels and if you need a buggy I suggest using straps to attach this to the side or top of the suitcase which will leave you a free hand to hold on to your youngest. Wrist straps are a Godsend. Carry a rucksack for your hand luggage and a bum bag for your essentials such as passport money etc, again leave both hands free for when you are without your suitcase, if your children are old enough convince them to carry their own bits and bobs in their own little rucksacks, makes them feel very grown up too.
Try and pack the absolute minimum when filling your suitcase. Orlando is casual so high shoes and posh frocks are just not necessary and remember what ever you need you can buy out there, and it’s probably cheaper. A lot of people even buy a buggy in one of the large supermarkets as they are so reasonably priced and then leave them out there at the end of the holiday. Don’t pack towels as they take up loads of room, again if you need them buy some cheap Disney ones out there and if you have to leave them at the end.
Driving in Florida is really very easy, I promise you, if I can find my way from MCO to Lake Buena Vista with a 3 year old and 6 year old having never driven in the States before, anyone can! Ask the car hire people at the airport for a good map and ask them to write down clearly the roads you need and in which direction you need to travel. Also ensure you have change ready for the toll booths, obviously make sure you have adequate car seats for your children. I suggest you arrange your car seat hire out there as this will again save on luggage.
Obviously you don’t have to drive and especially if you stay in one of the WDW Resort hotels the buses to the parks are frequent and efficient, many hotels offer their own shuttle buses and cabs can be booked without problem. You can pre-arrange a taxi to pick you up from MCO or Sanford and it is also possible to have car hire but arrange to pick this up from a point within WDW or Orlando. The possibilities are endless so don’t think that you won’t be able to cope because you won’t be able to get around.
Once settled into your hotel make sure you take full advantage of all the ‘kids eat free’ offers that are around, both of mine ate free when I paid for my meal at one of the hotels I stayed in and it makes a tremendous saving. The buffet type restaurants that are in abundance are excellent for your children, they can have exactly what they want and as much of it, I’m not saying that ice cream for breakfast with doughnuts is everybodys taste but if you’re happy with it and it keeps them smiling then why not?! The buffets may even give your children a chance to sample some food they haven’t tried before without you having to worry about wasting money.
The parks in Orlando offer nearly 24 hour entertainment for you and your children and that is one of the main reasons why I keep going back, there are no sighs of ‘I’m bored Mum’ because each day it’s up and out and off to try something else new and exciting! Try and put in some rest time during the day if your children are younger as this will stop them becoming crabby and overtired later on. Whether that time is spent relaxing on a bench in one of the Parks or returning to your hotel is up to you, but it’s certainly worth it, both for them and you!
One of the things I did miss when travelling with my two alone was adult company, especially on the occasional evening, so, if you feel brave enough arrange to meet up with someone from the Dibb who’s out there the same time as you. A friendly chat over a cup of coffee in one of the parks or a meal and get together one evening is lovely and I found it really refreshed me to meet up with a likeminded adult for a short while. I’ve met some wonderful friends that way too! Perhaps get together with another family for an Epcot Illuminations Cruise, your kids will have a ball and you’ll get to meet some new folks.
Read the hints and tips section on the Dibb that deals with travelling with young ones, and one bright idea I came up with was taking some plastic cups with me to all the parks, my two didn’t find drinking out the water fountains easy so I’d fill them both a cup up and they gulped away from those which was far easier (and cheaper than buying drinks the whole time!). Pack a few bags of snacks in your backpack two whilst touring the parks it’ll stave off those ‘I’m hungry pleas’ that seem to occur so often!
Don’t forget to get hold of a copy of a good guide book too so you can really gen up on all there is to see and do and also find out what your kids really want to do before you go, I swear by Simon Veness’ Brits Guide it's a Godsend.
I could go on for pages on my endless reasons why I find travelling to Orlando as a single parent a cinch but don’t want to bore you rigid so hopefully the above has covered a lot of the plus points and if you’d like any more info don’t hesitate to drop me (Astrid) a private message on the forums, I’m more than willing to help!
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