An Inexpensive Weekend in Central Florida

A getaway weekend doesn’t have to be far, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Just having fun and laughing with some good company may be all you need.

My go-to travel buddy happens to also be my boyfriend and one of my best friends. Whenever we get a break in our schedule we plan a great trip, whether it’s to Key West or The Smoky Mountains.

Inexpensive trips are just as fun, if you know how to make the most out something with just a few dollars.

We chose Central Florida as our trip destination since it is a large area to explore that is just far enough from home to count as a getaway. After the short three hour drive to Orlando, we settled in at a hotel for under $100 a night.

When people think of Orlando, their first thought is probably Disney. Instead of going to Disney ($$$), the free option would be to go and walk around for the day at Disney Springs, formally known as Downtown Disney. All the magic of Disney can be experienced through the shops and restaurants without the big Disney ticket price.

All around Orlando we noticed tons of gift shops and, to our surprise, a ton of $15 helicopter tour places. These are clearly tourist traps, but hey if you're on vacation you might as well act like a tourist.

This gift shop in particular was a favorite of ours. We probably went to 15 gift shops in the hunt for the “best” Florida Tee. As you can see from the storefront window, every gift shop had a section of $1.99 tees that they called “Florida Tees.” These shirts usually had old years on them or other peoples name such as “Jones Family Vacation 2013.”

The XXL Florida shirt below was dicounted for only $0.99 and it was the best purchase I made the whole trip.

This shirt really embodies the culture around how non-floridians view the state: nothing but alligators and sunshine. Being a Floridian, I wore this shirt with 100% pride for my state.

After spending the day as a florida tourist, we HAD to see what those helicopter tours were all about. For only $15, the tour would fit right into our low-cost vacation budget. I will give some advice when it comes to the tours, and that would be to call and ask if they actually have tours that inexpensive. They first place we went to had not have any tours for under $40, however we did find a place (Leading Edge Helicopters) that did offer $15 tours.

Of course we had to both wear our Florida tourist shirts^

This tour was a legitimate tour and they took our pictures and everything. I will say it was a short ride (it was only a few minutes), but it was still an amazing (and inexpensive) experience having never been in a helicopter. We were the first ones to arrive to receive a tour and the man who was our pilot just flew in and landed; he must drive his helicopter to work every day, that was really cool to see happen. It leaves you wondering where in the city he lives that he is able to just take a helicopter to work everyday.

After spending some time in Orlando, we decided to head over to Daytona Beach. This beach was only an hour and a half away from where we were and it provided the opportunity to drive the car directly on the beach for only $20.

This price is close to the same price it would cost for a day at the beach with metered parking, without the hassle of lugging every item needed for a day on the beach with you. Parking on the beach also allows for a safer way to lock up your valuables if you wanted to take a stroll on the beach or boardwalk and arcade. Going to the arcade can cost as little as $5 and gets you about an hour of fun games and prizes. After that, getting two slices of pizza on the boardwalk is around the same price. That means an entire day in Daytona beach for two people cost only $30 in total.

The only downside to parking on the beach that happened during our experience is that if the sand was super soft in that spot, and the car may got stuck in the sand. There was no problem parking initially but unfortunately getting out was not so easy. Luckily with the help of some good people they pulled us out in no time.

When planning an inexpensive vacation, it is always a good idea to be mindful about how much going out to eat can cost you. Dining can make or break a trips budget. Head to a buffet or a local diner to score great food. Eating at these places will keep you full longer than fast food chains and for around the same price, or even at a better price.

Just driving a few hours away from a familiar town, makes any getaway feel like you’re traveling to an entirely new place for discoveries. These types of trips are fairly easy to plan and can be as inexpensive as just a few hundred dollars (the same price it would cost for just a plane ticket to a farther destination).

A great weekend doesn’t have to break the bank.