Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
With over 20 years experience of travelling and working for an international airline I have picked up many useful pointers. Some are obvious but often the obvious gets overlooked when a holiday seems so far away!
Around three months before travelling check that all your suitcases work and are in good condition to travel. This gives you plenty of time to research the type of case and price you want to pay if you need to purchase any replacements or new ones that might be required. Many schedule airlines have recently changed the baggage allowances across the Atlantic and it is worth checking with your carrier. For example, BA, Virgin, Northwest Airlines and United now have a weight limit of 23kgs per suitcase (you are still allowed to take two pieces of checked baggage each if required!)
Check your passport expiry dates. When travelling to the USA passports should be valid for 6 months. I recently renewed my passport and received one of the ‘biometric’ passports which contain a little chip. The UK passport office also added the 6 months left on my previous passport to my new one so it is valid for ten years and six months. The UK is a member of the US visa waiver scheme which allows entry for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. However, for up-to-date information or for help with any questions always check the US Embassy website. (http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/visa/index.html)
When booking your flight ask if you can pre-book your seats so you can all sit together. We find it useful to include an aisle seat for easy access to the lavatories – especially if there are young children in the group! Order special meals for your flight if necessary. For example children’s meals, low cholesterol, diabetic, vegan, kosher. Most flights carry a standard vegetarian dish but you may want to confirm this before flying.
Now is the time to consider how you are getting to the airport. Booking car parking at UK airports can be cheaper if done in advance. You may want to investigate staying at a hotel near the airport the night before you go. Some hotels offer complimentary or low rates for car parking if you stay the night before too. Another benefit of staying close to the airport the night before is that some airlines offer early check-in with baggage drop off and issue boarding cards. This obviously saves time and makes life easier on the day of departure.
Check that you have holiday travel insurance for cancellation, sickness etc for the duration of your holiday. It’s not very effective or good planning, if it runs out half way through. It pays to investigate this early as cost and cover can vary from company to company.
Car hire also needs to be organised for your holiday to the USA. This website is excellent for its rates and good customer service and is worth considering. Think about the type of car you’ll want – and remember to consider the amount of luggage and people you need to get to and from the airport. For example a 4/5 seater compact car may not be suitable for a family of 2 adults, a child and a toddler if you have 3+ suitcases, hand baggage and a buggy to carry or 4 adults, 2 teenagers and 3 children and the entire luggage in a 7 seater mini-van.
And last, but by no means least, think about the amount of time you have and what you want to see and do in Orlando. In two weeks it is virtually impossible to do ‘everything’. I have read a write up that said ‘a day at a theme park equates to walking 10 miles’! Plan your trip to have rest days to enjoy the villa you have rented, or to go shopping and try some of the local restaurants. (Your feet may appreciate a rest!)
When you’ve thought about the places you want to visit, investigate the huge array of ticket options available for the theme parks, amusements, dinners, shows and day trips. Compare prices (don’t forget to check out the options and cost on this website – they are very competitive!) and organise purchasing tickets.
I’m exhausted thinking about the preparations but doing some, if not all of these, will take out any pressure or hassle closer to your day of travel – and more importantly - allow you to look forward visiting one of the greatest holiday destinations in the world!
Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
Other articles by this author: click here
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Page added on: 23 October 2006
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