When you imagine Orlando, Florida you probably picture a family taking their young children to Disney World or wealthy travellers relaxing in the sunshine at high end resorts or private villas. This sunny American destination isn’t known as a value backpacker hotspot, but that doesn’t mean that you should rule it out of your travel plans.
If you know where to look you can find a different side of Orlando, a side appealing to the budget traveller who is short on money yet has a healthy appetite for trying new things, meeting people and having unique experiences. Orlando really is so much more than theme parks and rollercoasters, it has quirky tree-lined artsy neighbourhoods, a great music scene, several excellent museums and parks and much more.
How to Get There and Where to Stay?
Shopping online for flights to Orlando can allow you to compare prices and find the best deal. Your best option is to go during the off season, when the prices will not only be cheaper but there will also be fewer crowds. The week after American Thanksgiving is one of the best times to go, as well as late August and early September right after school starts. Summer is the most popular time to visit, therefore the most expensive and crowded.
Orlando does have a few hostels to choose from, with dorm beds costing around $25 USD each. However, if you are travelling in a group of two or more it might be cheaper to split a room in one of the cheapest budget hotels – during the off season you can get rooms below $30. When working out which option is cheaper, don’t forget to factor in the money you would save by self-catering and cooking your own budget meals in a hostel kitchen.
Free and Cheap Things to Do
So once you have booked your cheap flight and found an affordable place to stay, what can you do in Orlando? While you might want to save up some money to visit the theme park of your choice, there are also plenty of free and cheap things that you can do to keep your expenses down:
- Harry P. Leu Gardens – Enjoy free admission to these gardens, featuring butterflies, ancient oak trees and three miles of walkways.
- Fort Christmas Historical Museum & Park – A great place to get a glimpse into pioneer life from the 1870s to the 1930s and learn about homesteading, hunting, fishing and trapping in Orlando’s past. Admission is free.
- The Winter Park Farmer’s market – Held from 7am to 1pm every Saturday, this free farmer’s market is where local vendors sell their homemade specialties including baked goods, organic produce and vegetables.
- Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards – Located just north of Orlando, this beautiful winery offers free tours and tastings, as well as many other free events through the year.
- The Disney Boardwalk – Check out the free live street entertainment in the evenings, including jazz ensembles, comedians and much more.
Even if you are on a backpacker budget, it is still possible to check out a notoriously pricey destination known for its commercial attractions such as Orlando. Keep these tips in mind so that you can enjoy the sunshine and laid back pace of Orlando without going broke.
Have you visited Orlando on a budget? What did you do when you were there? Let us know your travel stories in the comments below.