Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
The independent traveller and made to measure vacations (Part 1)
You’ve taken the plunge. This year you’ll be doing what more and more people are doing each year – you’re giving up the package holiday and you’re becoming an independent traveller. Fed up of the fitting your square peg family into the round hole of the off-the-peg package deal, you will be having a made-to-measure holiday.
So where do you begin? The major elements of the made-to-measure Florida holiday are
- car hire
- attractions, insurance, what to take
The first art of this four part series deals with finding accommodation for your Florida trip.
Without doubt, the most important part of your holiday is your accommodation. Choose this wisely and you and your family will be happy through out your stay and will be ready for the daily adventures of one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Choose unwisely, or worse still have the choice made for you – and you will find that the stresses you are trying to escape from have not been left at home. The best part of a made to measure vacation is being able to choose from hundreds of options and finding the exact fit for your particular circumstances. Hotel or motel – there are dozens to choose from, with a range of budgets. From cheap and cheerful to expensive and sophisticated, but there is a new kid on the block – and he’s growing in popularity. Home from home – literally. New developments and communities are springing up all around Florida, particularly in the Orlando area, designed to cater for the independent vacation market. Most are privately owned as second (and sometimes third) homes and each is as individual as its owner. All of these vacation homes is registered for “short term rental”, in a similar way to hotels, and have a range of mandatory safety features such as smoke alarms and safety lighting. All will have exactly the same facilities offered at home – living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and will provide all the facilities required for a self catering holiday, down to linen, towels and cutlery. Each owner adds a range of extra items to this basic inventory and the independent traveller should be able to find the level that he or she requires. It is not uncommon to find homes with a swimming pool, spa, large screen TV in the living room and cable TV in every room, PC with internet access, game consoles, baby equipment and games rooms. A range of home sizes is available from one and two bedroom condos, through to seven bed mansion houses. So all party sizes can be catered for, from couples, through families, extended families, two families sharing and groups. When comparing price per person rates, Vacation Villas compare very favourably with even budget hotels.
So how does the discerning traveller find the exact vacation villa to fit? First of all there is complete flexibility of arrival day, date and length of stay. The early bird always catches the worm – so the largest choice will be available to those who start their search early. Some companies will offer to find a vacation villa for you, and allocate on arrival. This is not much better than the package deals on offer and involves an element of risk – you will not know the exact area you are travelling to or the facilities of your home until you arrive in Florida. Internet sites, like this one, have listings of privately owned villas, the community where the home is located is specified, and the exact facilities available in each home will be spelled out in accurate descriptions. Each listing is illustrated by a range of photographs. Some visitors may wish to click through each individual villa on the site, noting those that are of interest and approaching each owner individually. Some may choose to use the “Search” and “Keyword” facility to narrow the range. Others may choose to submit their chosen dates to the site and have the owners approach them with prices and availability. For those who choose, or have the opportunity to book a late vacation, there is also a late availability function. One word of caution, due to the increasing popularity of this type of holiday popular holiday periods book up early and Easter, Summer and Christmas Holidays are often booked over a year in advance for many of the rental homes in Florida.
Details are provided by each owner on booking procedure – typically a booking deposit is paid, with balance 10 weeks before arrival, and a returnable security deposit is also required prior to arrival.
So, travelling independently, the choice is yours. Do you fit gran and grandpa, your brother and his wife, your two children and your three step children into three hotel rooms – or will it be a five bedded, four bathroom vacation villa with its own private pool and spa, large screen TV, cable TV in every room, fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, washing machine and drier, games console and games room. Will it be in the area in Florida that you have chosen, Disney or Gulf Coast, or both - and even the exact community that appeals to you.
The future of flexible vacationing in Florida is the Vacation Villa.
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