Florida continues to be one of the most popular destinations for vacations among the 50 states and it's certainly easy to understand why that's the case. It is home to one of the world's most-visited attractions - Walt Disney World Resort. Add to that an abundance of wonderful beaches, national parks, lakes, and other attractions and it's simple to see why Florida attracts visitors from literally around the world.
While Florida is relatively an affordable vacation destination, visitors are always looking for ways to save money on a trip to the Sunshine State. One of the ways to do that is to book a package rather than book each aspect of the trip individually, including hotel accommodations, airfare, and rental car. The concept of booking such a "package deal" has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so and more and more travel companies and clearinghouses are promoting this option.
Where to Find Good Packages
Most people are internet savvy and will usually find their best combinations on the internet on a variety of kinds of sites. Here is a list of some of the best places to look for deals to such popular Sunshine State destinations as Orlando/Disney World, Miami, Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater, Marco Island, Sanibel Island, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Palm Beach, and others.
- Vacation Clearinghouses - Though you may not have heard these referred to as clearinghouses, this is indeed what they are. They include such internet favorites as Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Cheaptickets, Hotwire, Expedia, and many others. Some offer "leftovers" - which isn't a bad thing, but it does mean that quantities of certain things - hotel rooms, flights - may be limited. That's why it's often necessary to snap up a good deal as soon as you've decided it's the best one offered. In addition, most of offer reviews by other travelers, so you can use the evaluations of others like you to help you decide whether or not this is a great offer. Often, the savings will be substantial when you book two or more parts of your trip (car, hotel, flight) at the same time and most of these sites will tell you the savings with their package.
- Airlines - Many airlines offer their own package deals to Florida. Southwest, for example, offers bundled deals to many different destinations within the state. Other airlines that also feature deals to Florida include Delta, US Airways, United Airlines, and many other major carriers.
- Travel agents - While many people are comfortable and even prefer to do their own research and bookings via the internet, many prefer to utilize a travel agent to handle the details and bookings. Those who do use a travel agent may find that they garner a slightly better rate if all parts of the trip are booked through the agency. If you have a trusted travel agent you prefer to use for booking, don't hesitate to ask about package discounts, especially for popular Florida destinations like Disney World, Miami, or Tampa.
When to Buy a Florida Vacation Package
As with any vacation, packages can be booked whenever you decide to head to the Sunshine State, be it six months before your trip or just a few weeks prior to your departure.
For those who like to plan ahead, this approach offers simplicity while representing a better deal, even if booking months ahead. However, if you're flexible or decide at the last minute that you want to make the trek to Florida, you may actually find the best buys then. Some sites actually cater to last minute travelers and offer packages at well below the price you might have paid months before. That's because many of the sites contract with hotels, airlines, etc. to help them sell the last few seats or rooms for a particular date or dates in the near future - like the coming weekend - so prices can be quite low.
Therefore, for the traveler that is able to get up and go whenever the travel bug hits, check out sites like lastminutevacation.com or lastminutetravel.com as well as some of the aforementioned sites like Travelocity and Expedia, who all have a section on last minute deals.
Remember, regardless of the way plan to book your deals or an entire package, be sure to read the "fine print" to understand the terms including cancellation policies. Vacations should be fun, adventurous or relaxing - not a nightmare due to misunderstanding.