Colleen & Catie’s Picks for Summer Vacations
Destination: Disney World – Orlando, FL
Grand Floridian – Expensive, but worth it . Colleen found a price on orbitz for $235/night, instead of booking she called the hotel and asked if they’d honor the price and they did, plus a better room.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Nice, mid-range hotel
Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive – Not attached to Disney World, but offers shuttles and tickets to the park for convenience
Disney dining plans are options available exclusively to guests of select Disney World hotels who purchase Magic Your Way Vacation Packages.
The plans enable you to prepay for all of your meals, which makes things a lot more convenient while you’re in the parks or at your hotel.
You can choose a plan that fits your family’s needs, and you’ll have restaurant options ranging from fun character meals to quick and easy meals to romantic dinners for two.
Disney allows visitors to bring in food so those with food allergies or picky eaters are able to have food from home.
Epcot – Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot, the free indoor character line where you can meet your favorites.
Wildlife Express Train – A peaceful seven-minute train ride from Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Meet many characters, travel past animal housing and veterinary facilities, and enjoy kids activities.
Jedi Training Academy – Teaches children how to be a Jedi and puts on a show for parents to root on their Junior Jedi Knights.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – You can purchase a wand and venture into Hogsmeade Village, where you’ll even be able to perform your own spells and practice magic. Remember, you will need to purchase a park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express and visit both lands.
Airport to fly into: Orlando International Airport
Cost of flights: Starting at around $170 round-trip this summer
How to get around: Don’t need to rent a car. Shuttle or Uber from airport.
Tips for Disney World:
Fast passes are worth it – Schedule your first 3 fast passes for the morning in one park, then after you finish you can use the app or visit a kiosk to schedule your next three in the evening at the same park or a different one.
Download the My Disney Experience App – Links your reservations, lets you search ride wait times, book dining reservations, purchase souvenirs and send them to your room or mail them home. It’s also linked to your photo pass.
Stay away from the EXTRA Magic Hours Parks – The parks with Extra Magic Hours for Disney Hotel Guests tend to be the busiest the entire day.
Save for a “Disneyworld fund” – Put all your spare change or “cash back” into a fund dedicated to a Disney trip
Destination: Grand Canyon – Arizona (South Rim)
Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams – Historic, luxury 298-room hotel, right next door to the train depot and just a block away from downtown Williams and historic Route 66. Includes complimentary wi-fi, an indoor pool and hot tub, delicious dining options at Grand Depot Cafe
Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley – Built in 1920s, features 62 rooms with views of Monument Valley, private balconies, John Wayne and other Western movie rentals, indoor heated pool (April – Nov). Steps away from the Stagecoach Dining Room.
Restaurant: El Tovar Restaurant at El Tovar Hotel – Gourmet dining in an atmosphere of historic and casual elegance describes this world-class dining experience. Signature items include the Prime Rib Hash at Breakfast or the Salmon Tostada.
Pink Jeep Tours at the Mather Point parking lot, load up and travel to Lipton Point via Pink Jeeps.
Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams – Visitors will drive through more than three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest viewing North American animals in natural habitats when they visit. See animals up close, and also try the Wild Bus Tour
Antelope Canyon Boat Tours on Lake Powell – This tour explores Antelope Canyon. We did the 1 hour tour.
Airport to fly into: Flagstaff
Cost of flights: Starting around $220 round trip in summer
How to get around: Rent a car!
Any other tips?
Stay safe (no selfies in risky spots)
Consider a guided group tour around the Grand Canyon instead of hiking on your own
Book accommodations as far in advance as possible, as they tend to book up quickly in the summer
“What’s” with the “Trip Sisters”
What’s in Your Suitcase?
GoPro Hero 7 Black – Starting at $349 on www.Shop.GoPro.com
With gimbal-like stabilization–without the gimbal, this brand new GoPro is tough as nails and waterproof down to 33ft (10m). It shoots in 4K (1080px240) and has 12mp resolution. It responds to voice recognition for easy shooting, and makes shots look amazing automatically with HDR, local tone mapping and noise reduction—in any light. You can even stream to Facebook Live, YouTube™ and more. Capture super smooth, stabilized time lapse video—even as you move through a scene, or capture in 8x slow motion.
Hero 7 Silver – $299
Hero 7 White – $199
GoPro Fusion 360 – Starting at $399 on www.Shop.GoPro.com
Fusion captures 360 video and photos, recording everything so you can find the best shots later. Turn 360 footage into videos and photos you can share on your phone. Preview and playback shots, create videos and share them on the go with the GoPro app. Create immersive VR experiences in stunning 5.2K video that’s incredibly smooth and stable video. Also waterproof down to 16ft (5m) with voice recognition. Includes Fusion Grip with a built-in extension pole and tripod.
What’s on your phone?
GoPro App – Free on Android and iOS
Create a QuikStory – Automatically transform your latest footage into an awesome video with music and effects. Share your favorite – Post your best moments to Facebook, Instagram and more, or share them in a text or email. Control your GoPro – Use your phone to frame your shots, start and stop recording, and easily adjust settings. GoPro App Plus (additional charge) – Unlimited cloud backup automatically – Upload as many photos and videos as you want, then create and share from anywhere using the GoPro app.
What’s the tip?
How to Plan a Family Summer Vacation without Breaking the Bank (www.theautismdiva.com)
Hit the Road – Forget about expensive airfare for the family, take a road trip instead! Try popular trips like Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway.
Go RVing – Like the idea of a road trip, but need a bit more elbow room? Check out RV rental companies like Mighway and Cruise America to rent an RV anywhere in the country. You’ll save money by having your transportation and hotel all in one.
Pitch a Tent – Renting a tent campsite offers significant savings over the price of the average hotel room. Plus, if you stay in a campground, you can still enjoy great amenities like bathhouses, a swimming pool, playground, lake access and more. This kind of vacation is a great way to experience a national park. (Can rent a tent site for $47/night at Yosemite Lakes Campground).
Cabin Fever – Looking for more comforts of home than you’ll find in a tent? Consider campground rental accommodations, like yurts and even tiny houses.
Reverse Migrate – Go where the people aren’t! When most people are enjoying northern destinations for the summer, consider heading south to Florida, Arizona, Mexico and the Caribbean. You’ll catch some great deals, and it will be much less crowded.
Ride the Rails – Take the scenic route and travel by train. Check out Vacations by Rail for a variety of options for train trips and tours throughout the country or consider Amtrak.
Take a Deal – Follow your favorite travel resources such as Google Flights, Airfarewatchdog, and Travelocity for the latest promotions and discounts.
Points Play – Make sure to use credit cards that have great travel rewards or cash back programs so every dollar you spend gets you one step closer to a family getaway.
Off the Path – Try less popular vacation spots like Tybee Island, Georgia instead of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Instead of a big theme park vacation, consider a visit to Virginia Beach, Virginia for their Ocean Breeze Waterpark.