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Tips & Tools Help Stay Organized on Vacation

Whether you’re taking the entire family to Orlando for an unforgettable Disney experience or just escaping to a cabin in the mountains for a romantic getaway, you want to leave work life and stress behind. By doing so, you can relax to the fullest extent of the word. By doing just a little bit of prep before you leave, you can avoid the little scramblings—missed turns, getting lost, forgetting your toothpaste or bathing suit, missing a luau because you didn’t check ahead to see that they only go on Saturdays and not Sundays—that add up to precious lost time. Here’s how to stay organized on vacation.

Relax and stay organized on vacation

Pack Smart & Stay Organized on Vacation

When it comes to staying organized on vacation, nothing works as good as a checklist. Whether you use an old-fashioned pen and paper or a smartphone checklist app like Evernote or todoist, you’ll never get to the beach without your snorkel again. To make your checklist brainstorming even simpler, browse travelchecklist.com for the perfect template.

Another important piece of the packing smart pie is to choose the right luggage. Will you be moving around a lot, whether changing places you stay or walking around a lot during the day? Ditch the heavy suitcase or roller luggage for a suitcase-backpack combination instead, like this one. You’ll have the organization and structure of a standard suitcase with the mobility of a backpack.

Plan What You’ll Wear Before You Leave

There’s nothing like staring at a mess of clothes deciding on what you should wear, too many choices, to slow down a good time. It might seem easy to throw everything in “just in case” but you’ll be weighing yourself down (literally), increasing your bag fees, and giving yourself too many choices—and on vacation, you need to fully appreciate every single moment you get to relax! Stay organized on vacation and plan out your outfits beforehand so that you know what you’ll feel comfortable in, what goes or looks good together, and what will be the most sensible depending on the weather/circumstances of your trip. Pack layers, so that you can always be prepared, and base it on the capsule wardrobe. Keep your shoes to 2 pairs max if possible. You can always use a washing machine if need be.

Itinerary

We know, and we get it—you’ve got enough spreadsheets to update every day at work, right? But this is one that’s sure to put a smile on your face—it’s full of all the adventures you’ll be having, after all!

Use this itinerary template to map out where you’ll be going and when, as well as any important extra details like transportation, cost, etc.

Technology

If you’re like us, you can never seem to find that darn phone charger cord. Make sure you never run out of juice on your phone for pictures on the go. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got all necessary backups, batteries, and portable devices (especially portable phone chargers) like these. This will certainly help stay organized on vacation.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If visiting any of the Orlando theme parks, be sure to download their app to your smartphone. This will help make your day at the attractions much more enjoyable. Some apps can help schedule your ride-times, help locate where you are in the park, find restrooms and more!

By doing a bit of research beforehand, you’ll maximize your free time in paradise and have your best vacation yet.


About Our Guest Author: Taylor McKinney is a Marketing Associate at TrustRadius, a trusted website for B2B software reviews. When she is not writing small business trends she is enjoying Austin’s culture with her husband and two kids.


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Vacationing With Your Dog In Orlando

Featured post provided by guest author, Lucy Wyndham

Vacationing with your dog in Orlando may be easier than you think. Orlando has 20 different dog-friendly activities, including doggy bakeries, dog parks that are better than any human playground, and even a variety of hotels and home rentals that accommodate dogs. You might think that this city is all about amusement parks, but it could be the perfect place to take your dog instead of your kids. But by the time you end up in a wine bar with your dog for “yappy hour,” you will want to come to Orlando with your dog every year.

Dine with Your Dog

Vacationing is all about treating yourself, so after getting some treats of your own, head to Woofgang bakery for your furry friend. If you have a car, make sure to take a 45-minute drive to the free Yappy hour at the Wine Den in Mount Dora. Vacationing with your dog in Orlando also offers tons of options for a date night with the dog. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If your dog ends up eating something that he or she is allergic to, it’s important to bring along some antihistamines in a small backpack, along with a cold compress in case your dog gets a minor injury, and bandages for cuts and scrapes.

Vacationing With Your Dog In Orlando

Photo by louis amal on Unsplash

Get Social While Vacationing With Your Dog In Orlando

If Orlando’s dog parks don’t outnumber the human ones, they do certainly outdo them. Constitution Green dog park, for instance, is planning to add a dog-wash. There are also several dog-friendly beaches near Orlando where you can tire your pup out with a few rounds of frisbee. Going outside and exploring new places is not only a good way to meet new playmates, it is also important so that heavier dogs can shed some weight. Especially if you are going to treat them at the dog bakery beforehand.

Go to an Amusement Park?

Dinosaur Park may not be the amusement park you think of when you’re headed to Orlando, but it is just as entertaining and free for dogs. Even if vacationing with your dog in Orlando has Disney in the plans, there are kennels where attendants walk, cuddle, and even give ice cream breaks to your dog. If your dog needs medication, an attendant will take care of that for a $2 fee.

Relax and Have Fun

Going on vacation should be fun, even though you have the added responsibility of a dog. As long as you plan ahead and take your dog to places that can accommodate pets, and even make your dog’s vacation a blast, everything should be fine. There is no reason to leave your dog behind. Vacation with your dog the next time that you go to Orlando.

Best Tips to Experience Universal

Universal Orlando has plenty of thrills to enjoy. But with all that excitement, it can be tricky to know where to begin. In this guide, we’ve provided some Orlando Tourist Tips (insider tips) including the best tips to experience Universal in all its glory.

Best Tips to Experience Universal: Arrive at the Park Early (and leave at closing time)

To get the most out of your trip, you’re going to want to arrive at the park super early and leave as late as possible (depending on how tired you are). Aim to arrive at Universal prior to park hours because some guests are allowed in before it opens. Then you’ll have early access to the rides.

This is a great way to beat the crowds and makes a lot of sense if you’re only in Orlando for a short amount of time. Take a break when the park is at its peak between mid-morning and early afternoon with a quick food stop or a trip to CityWalk. Then continue with the excitement later that afternoon. Crowds tend to die down around 4pm, with shorter lines for most rides.

Know the Best Time of Year to Avoid Crowds

When you’re at a theme park, the last thing you want is big crowds and long lines. Certain times of the year see smaller crowds at Universal. These include the entire month of September (when kids are back at school), early December (before the main festive week kicks off), January to early February, and even early November. Top Villas created this handy guide for more information on the best times to visit.

Best Tips to Experience Universal includes when to visit this Orlando theme park.Visit Harry Potter Later in the Day

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter tends to be packed in the morning so one of our best tips to experience Universal is to go in the afternoon and try to see other areas of the park beforehand. As the crowds die down, you’ll get the chance to enjoy shorter lines – and get better photos than everyone else.

The Orlando heat (depending on what time of year it is) also tends to sink a little in the afternoon. Another benefit, if you’d like to shop at the Diagon Alley gift shops, is that afternoon lines tend to be much shorter than during the morning rush.

Take Breaks Throughout the Day

Visiting theme parks can be super exciting and yet very tiring, especially for little ones. Taking regular breaks throughout the day is key, whether it’s grabbing a snack, watching a show such as the ‘Horror Makeup Show’, relaxing on Sneetch Beach at Seuss Landing, or having a picnic in Universal’s Central Park.

Use the ‘Child Swap’ Service

If you’re traveling with kids, sometimes the younger ones aren’t able to go on rides suited for older guests. And, if both parents want to have a turn on a ride, it can make things extra tricky.

However, with the ‘child swap’ service at Universal, things can be a little bit easier. It works like this: one parent looks after the kids in the family room, while the other enjoys the ride. Later on, they can switch. This saves everyone from lining up again and give both parents the chance to enjoy the rides.

Instead of the second parent riding alone, this service actually allows the rider to take another rider with them, which means someone else in your party can ride again!

Hogwarts Express is a "must do" attraction

Hop on the Hogwarts Express

Can you really say you’ve been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without riding the Hogwarts Express? The train takes you between the two parks at Universal, working as both a convenient time-saver and a magical experience for the entire family. Ensure you’ve bought a park-to-park ticket before hopping on the express.

Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines

You can save a lot of time if you don’t mind going on the rides alone. On certain rides, they offer ‘single rider lines.’ The idea is that when the ride isn’t filled up and there are only single seats remaining, those in the single riders line can help to fill in the gaps. This option saves a lot of time and if you want to repeat an attraction, it’s a convenient idea. You have to be 10 years or older to use this line.

Get yourself Some Gringott Bank Notes

At Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you need to stop by Gringott’s Money Exchange. Here you exchange ‘muggle money’ (otherwise known as US dollars) for Gringott Bank Notes, which can be spent throughout the Universal Orlando Parks. They offer $10 or $20 options.

Order the Pumpkin Fizz

Universal is full of secrets but what many guests don’t know is about their secret menus. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: At the Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub in Wizarding World of Harry Potter, when you’re ordering the classic Butter Beer, don’t forget to ask for Pumpkin Fizz. This item isn’t on the actual menu and is a secret drink they serve.

Dine at CityWalk

Visit CityWalk

The exciting entertainment complex called CityWalk offers guests a range of dining opportunities, live entertainment, nightclubs, and shops. If you’d like a break from the main theme parks, take yourself down there.

CityWalk is completely free to enter whether you have a theme park ticket or not. You can spend the day shopping or stop off for dinner (there’s loads of great food).

Save Money with a Lad Lard’s Pink Donut

When on vacation with children (or maybe even adults), everyone is bound to want a sweet treat to keep them going. The Lad Lard pink donut sold at the Simpsons area is massive and costs just $5! You can split the donut between a few people and save a bit of money rather than each getting separate desserts. Talk about sweet & best tips to experience Universal!

Rent a Locker for a Day

If you’re spending an entire day at the parks and have stocked up with food (plus jackets for when it gets cooler in the day), the last thing you’ll want to do is carry a heavy bag with you.

At both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (inside and outside of each park entrance), there are lockers which can be rented for a whole day at around the $10 mark. You can open and close them as much as you need throughout the day without extra charge.

Volcano Bay is a water park in Orlando

Arrive Early at Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay has some of the best water slides in Orlando. On the day you go, we’d recommend getting there as early as possible. For one, you can get on the rides quicker and also claim a prime spot on the ‘beach’, to relax throughout the day.

Take a VIP Tour

VIP tours can be pricey. If your budget is a little bit higher, they are one of the best tips to experience Universal that are completely worth it. With these tours, you’re given first priority on all of the rides. You also have the chance to enjoy the same ride multiple times, which usually wouldn’t be possible at peak times. VIPs are also allowed access to certain park areas most are not, such as the Men in Black Headquarters.

There are Nursing Facilities for Young Families

In all Universal parks, including Volcano Bay, there are nursing facilities in the First Aid Stations at Family Services. These can be found to the right of lost and found in Universal Studios Florida, at the First Aid Station in Universal’s Volcano Bay and on Canal Street in the New York area of Universal’s Islands of Adventure at its First Aid Station.

Best Tips to Experience Universal include when to dine

Eat Outside of Usual Dining Hours to Avoid Crowds

During normal breakfast, lunch and dinner hours, restaurants tend to be a lot busier than during off-peak times. If you can, aim to go later in the morning for breakfast, between 2-5pm for lunch, and even later in the evening for dinner.

Best Tips to Experience Universal: Stay for More Days

Even though it is possible to squeeze both parks into one day, you won’t get to experience all the best bits if you’re rushing around. Therefore one of the best tips to experience Universal is to allow yourself 3 days. That way you can have a day each at the 2 main parks, Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, plus a third day visiting Volcano Bay and having a look around CityWalk. You can also save a lot of hassle by renting a villa near Universal.

Download the Universal Orlando App

There’s plenty of things you need to remember for a day at the parks, so to make it that little bit easier you can download Universal’s app. It helps navigate you around both parks, informs you of attraction wait times, parade show times, and character meet and greets. This’ll save you a lot of time.

Universal Studios Stays Open Later Than Islands of Adventure

On some days of the month, Universal Studios is open an hour or two later than Islands of Adventure. If you’ve bought a park-to-park ticket, when Islands of Adventure closes, head on over to Universal Studios instead of going home. You can experience the magic of Diagon Alley, meet the Minions or enjoy ET’s adventure. This is definitely one of the best tips to experience Universal.

Parking is Free at Universal After 6pm

If you arrive at Universal after 6pm, there’s free parking for all guests.

Looking for a villa near Universal Orlando? Top Villas offers a range of villas near Disney and Universal Studios.

 

4 Mistakes People Make When Visiting Orlando

Article submitted by At Home Vacation Rentals

Avoid these 4 mistakes people make when visiting Orlando!

Orlando is one of the most amazing vacation destinations will you can choose. Specially if you have kids. It’s a dreamland of parks and adventures for kids and adults. But a lot of people don’t take full advantage of everything that this amazing trip has to offer. We hope that you have a great time in Orlando, so we have decided to point out the 4 most common mistakes people make when visiting Orlando.

1. Not planning

As silly as that may sound planning is everything when going to a city full of attractions like Orlando. People go to the theme parks and have idea where to begin or how to best use their time. They don’t know which rides are the best, the busiest, etc. It could take a lot of time to learn the maps, decide where to go and in what order. By not planning a lot of people end up not visiting as many attractions as they could and spend a lot of time waiting in line.

out of bed early - not making mistakes people make visiting Orlando

Despite how nice your accommodations are, skip sleeping in during your Orlando vacation!

2. Sleeping in

Who doesn’t like to sleep in? Specially when you go on vacation and want to relax in those beautiful vacation homes. But in a city like Orlando, if you want to take full advantage of your time here, you need to get to the parks early. Most of the parks open at 9am so if you plan on getting to the parks after 11am, you will find the best attractions/rides with lines over 1 hour of waiting time. But if you get there early, you get to go to those rides with shorter lines. Unless you are planning on going to the same park for two days. In that case you can go early one day to avoid lines, and later the other day to stay for the evening shows.

3. Going to big parks in a row

Many parks in Orlando are big and you need to spend all day there, specially if you want to watch the last shows. Going to those parks one after the other makes the trip extremely tiring. Ideally you want to alternate parks that take all day to visit (like Magic Kingdom or Epcot) with other parks that are not as big and will not take all day (like Animal Kingdom or Sea World). If you are planning a long trip, it’s always a good idea to leave some days for rest (pool, beach) or even going to an attraction that you didn’t know about.

4. Not using FastPass

A lot of people don’t think they really need to get a FastPass, or that they can get it on the same day as they go to the parks, but that’s a big mistake. They have a limited number of FastPasses that they sell for each attraction so it’s very likely that on the day you go they might be sold out for the best rides/attractions. And depending on the time of the year, you might have to wait in line for over 2 hours.

The FastPass is a free service that lets you reserve access to select attractions, entertainment and more. With the purchase of a ticket you can start making selections as early as 30 or up to 60 days before you arrive.

Cross #1 above off your list! Browse Orlando Tourist Tips web site and read up on all of the theme parks and attractions. Then start planning how you will spend your vacation in one of the top vacation destinations in the world! Avoid these mistakes people make when visiting Orlando.

5 Things to do in Orlando that are Not Theme Parks

There are many Orlando Tourist tips we could give if you are looking for things to do in Orlando that are not theme parks. We could go on and on, but our list would be exhausting! So, we’ve put together a few (we’ll post more later) that you may not have thought about, or are new to the area and haven’t done yet. Orlando offers so many things to do, however, we first must acknowledge what “put us on the map.”

Back in October of 1971, Disney World opened its gates to the public for the very first time, spurring an expansion in the Orlando area of tourist-friendly attractions that continues to this day. Suddenly, everyone knew where Orlando was! These attractions go beyond theme parks, and are (in most cases) much more affordable than a trip to Disney World, Universal Studios or SeaWorld. Here are 5 things to do in Orlando that go beyond the major theme park circuit.

Orlando Eye Sunset View

The Orlando Eye

Visiting the Orlando Eye offers guests a 360 view of Orlando, with an impressive mix of Florida landmarks and nature visible from the top. From the safety and comfort of an air-conditioned capsule, guests can see everything – from the Hogwarts castle at Universal Studios to Downtown Orlando on a clear day. If purchased online, tickets for adults start at $20, with tickets for kids between the ages of 3 and 12 starting at $15.

BucaEntranceFloridaMall

Shopping

The Orlando area has a surprising amount of shopping options available to visitors. The Florida Mall is home to a range of shopping and dining locations, including Best Buy, Banana Republic, Gotcha Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, and Asian Chao. The Crayola Experience was recently unveiled on site, offering a great outlet for kids to play and learn. The Crayola Experience consists of several kid-friendly attractions, ranging from an indoor playground for children to burn off energy to a “Crayola Factory” where kids can learn how crayons are made. When purchased online, tickets for the Crayola Experience cost $16.99. If you’re looking to make some high-end fashion purchases and to get some bang for your buck at the same time, head over to the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, where you can shop at a range of high-end stores, including Coach, Armani, Hugo Boss, and Burberry.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Phillips Center

For theater buffs or anyone looking to see a live performance, Dr. Phillips Center is a great venue in Downtown Orlando. For preforming arts enthusiasts, they run shows like Pippin, The Sound Of Music and Cinderella, but the performances are certainly not limited to musicals. While Musicals, Ballets, and Orchestras often occupy the stages, the Dr. Phillips Center also has some less conventional showings, like their Chefs at Dr. Phillips Center series, featuring Chefs like Ina Garten and Guy Fieri.

Water Parks

WetnWild_DiscoExteriorOne of the huge perks of visiting Orlando is the sunny and warm climate that is enjoyable year round. While most waterparks throughout the country have an off-season, that isn’t so in Orlando. Guests are just as welcome to enjoy state-of-the-art water parks in July as they are in October, or even February. There’s a wide range to choose from; Sea World’s Aquatica and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon offers a combination of family-friendly attractions and thrill rides, while Wet ‘n Wild offers a more traditional water park experience.

Air Boat Tours

airboatFor a unique experience that offers an up-close-and-personal look at Florida’s wildlife and environment, Marsh Land Adventures offers airboat tours. The tour takes guests through the Florida Everglades (Shingle Creek), where they have the chance to see alligators and other plant and wildlife that flourish in the swampy environment. While passengers are enjoying the ride and the view, airboat captains tell stories about the American Indians and early Florida settlers who were the first to make their homes in the swampy marshes of the sunshine state. Guests have the option to purchase tickets for a 60 minute, 90 minute, or 120 minute experience. They also offer a four-hour “photo adventure” in the Florida Everglades.

If you have favorite things to do in Orlando that are not theme parks, let us know! We can post it on our next list. Stay tuned.