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Traveling to Orlando: Eight Things You Need to Know Before You Go

Orlando, Florida, USA

Orlando is well-known for its tourist appeal all over the world. With a vast selection of places to eat, entertainment hotspots, accommodation, and everything in between, first-time visitors to Orlando might just be taken by surprise by the sheer scale of the appeal this place has to offer. Whether you are a veteran or a novice, there are lots of useful things to know before you get there and while you’re travelling around.

You May Need an ESTA

If you are visiting from outside of the USA, don’t forget to look into getting an ESTA well in advance. The best timeframe to aim for is at least two months before you travel out. ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorisation is a legal permission to travel to and around America for a period of under 90 days. The ESTA is there for countries that are a part of the Visa Waiver Programme, so if your country is not on the list you may need a holiday visa instead. Regardless, please don’t turn up to Orlando without looking into this properly because it will delay your entry and your holiday!

Pick Accommodation Carefully

Like any major tourist area, Orlando has so many hotels to offer. Some are great, and some are less than legitimate. This is where research comes in, and it is more than worth the time you’ll spend looking into the various places to stay. The last thing you want is your trip to be ruined by a terrible accommodation choice. This is where you’ll go to relax and recoup, and grab some much-needed sleep after an action-packed day exploring.

  • If you’re hitting theme parks, it is a great idea to find a place nearby with easy access, especially if you are traveling with children. This will just make life more convenient.
  • If you are avoiding the parks, but still want in on the tourist action, consider finding a place to stay along International Drive.
  • Use your holiday itinerary to guide your accommodation choice. If you are planning multiple activities in close-knit proximity, try going for a hotel that provides easy access to make life easier.
Happy couple driving convertible car enjoying summer vacation
Happy couple driving convertible car enjoying summer vacation

A Car Will Be Useful

While public transport has its uses, there is no replacement for having access to a private vehicle. This is even more true when you are traveling with children because you will need so much stuff for a day out, the ability to throw it in the boot and have it on hand if you need it is just worth the money. Given that you’re not going to take your car from home, that leaves looking into how to find a hire car in Orlando instead. Hiring a car is easy to do, but it is recommended that you book in advance of your trip rather than hoping for the best when you get there. It also guarantees the best rates too.

You’ll Need a Plan

Because there is so much to do in Orlando, you will definitely need a plan. Wondering around with no agenda might turn up some fun adventures, but people don’t tend to go to Orlando with zero ideas about why they’re going. It could be a few days of experiencing Disney or Universal theme parks, or maybe you just want a slice of the authentic Floridian culture. Wherever your mood is taking you, make sure you have a few attractions in mind that you have booked before you go (to avoid complications and make your budget easier).

Magical Moment at Sea World Orlando!
Magical Moment at Sea World Orlando!

Theme Park Top Tips

If theme parks are the order of the day, then make sure you brush up on some top tips from experienced park-goers before you go.

  • If your sole purpose for visiting Orlando is going to Disney or Universal Studios, then try to book it all as a package deal to save money.
  • Find your rhythm and make the day easier by booking fast pass access to rides.
  • Pre-book everything. It just makes sense.
  • Pack for the weather. Kids are likely to need a change of clothes!
  • Explore your meal options before you get there, and make some reservations too. Restaurants can get busy.
  • Secure parking, or figure out shuttle travel so you’re ahead of the curve and everything can run more smoothly.

Check The Weather Before You Arrive

Orlando’s summers are wonderful and in general, it’s quite a seasonal place. Though there is never a massive cold spell, Orlando has lower temperatures in December and January so if you are visiting then, take a jacket or two just in case. Summer, however, can get really hot, so it’s always good to prepare for that too. Sun protection in the form of lotions, hats, and helpful clothing are great things to pack for every member of the family.

Check Out I-Drive

You will never be stuck for somewhere to eat or something interesting to see if you wander down I-Drive. International Drive is one of the most amazing places to go when you visit Orlando. It is an 11-mile entertainment stretch that has fun things to offer from start to finish. You could take a ride in the giant observation wheel or check out the waxworks in the famous Madame Tusaud’s, follow it up with a great dining session at one of the hundreds of restaurant choices, and still have many venues left to uncover.

The Beach Offerings Are Worth the Journey

If you want a beach day, you won’t have to drive far. Just an hour away are some of the most amazing beaches you will ever experience. Check out Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beachfront for a fun, diverse day out. They are more than worth the travel time if you are staying further into the city, and a day on the sand is a great way to break up a holiday filled with intense tourist hopping.

Orlando is one of the best, most intriguing places in the world. You can never be bored when you get there because there are literally too many things to take part in and discover.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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