So, it’s been a while since I paid my first trip to Orlando, and boy do I miss it! These past 7 months have completely dragged and I’d quite honestly jump on a 10-hour virgin flight in a heartbeat if I could!
Whilst I’m feeling in the nostalgic mood, I thought I would share with you my top tips and recommendations for all you newbies out there who are thinking about taking your first trip to Florida!
Orlando is pretty much on all our bucket lists; it’s been on mine for about 20 years (I’m 25). Situated in central Florida, Orlando is the king of the world when it comes to theme parks. Home to Walt Disney World, and Universal Studios, it hosts some pretty exciting rides to say the least!
My Disney Itinerary
Call me old fashioned, or downright stupid, but I didn’t have a clue what an ‘Itinerary’ was, prior to planning this trip. I personally think creating an Itinerary is completely up to you. As we were travelling to meet family who had been out there a few days, they were the ‘Itinerary-iers’, and with this, we pretty much followed everything they had planned, in regards to parks. We did however have days where there would just be the 4 of us as opposed to 9 of us; and in these days, we honestly just winged it! As a family, we’re not very structured at all, we don’t cope well with planning, and we just like to take it as it comes, so for those days, that’s what we did. Granted most of those days were spent in Disney Springs, but hey! I’m not complaining!
If you would like to see an example of an Itinerary, here is ours for reference (using the word ours as a broad term). You can copy it if you like! 😝
I can honestly say that after viewing this Itinerary 8 months later, I don’t think we actually followed any of it! I can’t speak for my half sister & her family, they were the ones who created this, but I know we all had fast passes for Flight of Passage on the first day, but they’re not on here!
It should also be mentioned that we were there for 2 weeks; one of which we covered the Disney Parks, and the other we spent at Universal!
Just to clarify, I don’t mean the official Disney Dining Plan. As all 4 of us were adults, we didn’t really feel that getting this was necessary. However, our other party did purchase a dining plan and from what I can recall, they thoroughly enjoyed using it, and they thought it was well worth it! So if you’re travelling with kids, this is one to consider!
In terms of actually planning your meals, I would highly recommend getting the Disney World App, where you can view menus and even reserve tables from all over the parks. This will guarantee you a seat in those hard to get places; like the famous Be Our Guest Restaurant, for example! This restaurant was fully booked for months prior to our visit, so if you happen to stumble across this blog post months before your trip, I’d have a look now if I were you!
As much as I loved all the lovely dishes I had to eat in my time in Orlando, there are a lot of restaurants I didn’t get to eat at. But never mind; there’s always next time! If you’d like to view the places I did eat at, I wrote another blog post on that too!
It’s All About The Money, Money, Money…
(We don’t need your Money, Money Money… No? Just me? Ok!)
Having never been to America before, let alone somewhere big like Florida. I had no idea how much money to take. I found myself searching around different websites for other people’s opinions on the matter. From what I recall we took $1,500 cash (between me and my boyfriend), and I uploaded £600 onto my Monzo App!
Let me take a minute to talk about the Monzo app; I’ve wanted to talk about it since we got back and I never have, so it’s been a long time coming! I was completely sceptical and a bit scared to use the app. I remember uploading the initial mandatory £100, and using that as a trial run before putting any more on there. I had heard of Aaron’s friends using it but I didn’t really trust their word; I mean, money is a big thing! Especially abroad!
I mean, let’s face it, I’d never used anything like this before; Aaron had previously used Monzo in Mexico just short of 4 months earlier, but that was a completely different country! I kept thinking to myself It might work at one place, or maybe a couple, but I won’t get carried away because it definitely won’t work everywhere… and boy was I wrong! The standard bankcard with a bright neon orange appearance stood its ground and proved me wrong. So, in conclusion, I would say I definitely recommend getting the Monzo card. There is about a 6-month waiting list and just a word of warning; when you sign up you have to talk to the camera to confirm who you are and that you do actually want a Monzo card. I mean, I’m a vlogger, but this was a whole new level of bizarre for me!
Pack All Your Troubles… I’ll stop now.
Getting my suitcase for America was a moment I’ll probably never forget for as long as I live. From what I recall, our flight was on a Monday, and we got our cases on… yep… you guessed it! Saturday! With our flight being a 7am number, it was quite a bit of a restriction in the old clockity clock area, if you get what I mean.
So… back to the point! Picture this: The Saturday; just over a day before we’re due to set off, and I go to T K Maxx, the cases are on buy one get one half price, so me and my mum buy a leopard print one and a bright blue one. I’m so excited! I’ve not had a case this big in YEARS! And we get to the till… The conversation goes somewhat like this:
Me: “There’s nothing like buying your suitcase just over 24 hours before you’re due to set off to the airport”
Cashier Lady: “Oh really?… Where are you going?”
Cashier Lady: “Oh, really?! I might be on the same flight as you!”
I’ve not a clue how the conversation flowed after that; all I remember is completely finding all the power inside myself not to jump up and down in circles clapping my hands because, YES! I was actually THAT happy.
So! I get home, start to pack a LOT of stuff; throw in about 5 costumes, didn’t use 1. 4 pairs of shorts – only used about 2 because it rained a lot. I’d say my most used item was my leggings; of which I brought 1, because I wasn’t expecting the rain.
Emma’s Ultimate Packing Guide
Here is what I would recommend YOU pack in your suitcase if you’re a 24-year-old female traveller who’s off to Orlando for 2 weeks at the beginning of September. Feel free to print this page off as a check list!:
o 6 T-Shirts – Honestly, this ones being generous; you’ll buy loads more!
o 4 Pairs of Leggings – Assuming they don’t take up much room! Very handy to keep in your bag for those downpours.
o 3 Pairs of Shorts – It’s very warm even though it’s wet – Wear them like jeans!
o 2 Pairs of Jeans (One for travelling)
o 2 Pairs of trainers/shoes. Ideally comfy ones. I brought 4 pairs with me, and switched between 2. The other 2 I don’t even think I’ve worn to this day!
o 4/5 Dresses – It really depends when and where you’re going out. I brought 6 dresses with me and I’m sure I only wore 4 of them. I generally just dressed up with shorts and t-shirt most nights.
o Swimming Gear – I brought about 4 swimming costumes and used none – I’d plan your trip first and maybe bring one if you’re unsure about a water park; that’s really the only place you’ll use them!
o Makeup – the list would be endless if I’d be writing mine, honestly.
o Underwear – Take a couple more than actually needed; just in case!
o Contact Lenses – Not sure if this is essential for you, but it is for me!
o Hairbrush & Hair styling things – I don’t really do anything to mine, so this is entirely on here for you!
o Perfume – I usually use the little samples, they’re really handy for travelling, and I tend to find my favourites this way!
o Deodorant – Roll on was my preferred choice, I got a bit concerned about the cabin pressure and all that.
o External Batteries for Cameras – Alike the contacts, this is just personally suited to me. I knew that the 10 hour flight wasn’t going to be crammed full of activities so I only really needed one full battery. The rest could live in my case until I landed!
o Ladies Items – Oh, okay, FINE! I’ll say it. Sanitary towels; don’t forget them! I didn’t get chance to try the American ones, but I was quite happy with good old always thank you!
So, the time has come. Trust me – as exciting as it is, don’t get yourself worked up yet. Don’t forget, you’ve now got to sit in the same chair for the next 10 hours, with the odd wee break. It completely put’s a downer on the excitement, yes, but you can get excited again when you land, so that’s not too bad!
For that long, long journey that you have ahead of you, if you’re flying with someone like Virgin, they tend to treat you to a few good movies, once you’ve figured out how to use the pain in the arse of a screen. However, as good as this is, it’s always advisable to pack a few extra’s, just in case! Here’s a brief inventory of what was in my travel bag:
o Sudoku – Don’t judge me, I promise I’m not 92.
o External Battery Charger – Check airline regulations first.
o Your camera, of course!
o Chargers. I brought my MacBook charger; just a heads up, only some seats on the plane have sockets – mine didn’t! (You have to pay for WiFi too)
o Moisturizer & Lip Balm, under 100ml of course!
You may have noticed that I didn’t include some key essentials on the ‘other’ section. That’s because I tend to leave these bits for the airport! If you’d like to go the same route as me, then here’s a little shopping list for you!
o Shampoo & Conditioner
o Toothbrush & Toothpaste
o Tanning Lotion, Sun Protection etc.
o Face Wipes/Face Wash – (I nearly died, I had to buy these when we got to America, and I couldn’t find them anywhere, and I couldn’t get my makeup off! – It was a nightmare, trust me)
I had to just double check external sources when listing half of this, just so I didn’t miss anything. If you’re more of an adult than me, there’s a proper adult (apparently I’m not one at 25); Eagle Creek, they have created a checklist for when you leave the house! As well as the boring medical checklist. Sorry… I didn’t mean that… don’t forget your medicine.
I have to say, that I honestly didn’t watch that many Disney vlogs before I set off. I’m not too sure why, maybe I didn’t want to ruin it; who knows! I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t though! Watching videos back now just makes me so excited for when I finally get to visit again!
So, speaking of vlogs. One person I did watch religiously, because she (eek) was on her honeymoon (eek) then, with her bridesmaid, her bridesmaid’s boyfriend, and (eek) her now ex-husband (eek) SORRY HELEN ANDERSON, LOVE YOU HELEN ANDERSON.
Helen is one of my favourite vloggers ever, I’ve been watching her for years, and she just so happened to be venturing out into the happiest place in the world just a few weeks before me, so she was my introduction. Let me just say that in her video, if you just so happen to watch it; they all mention that they feel ‘so sick’ after the Jimmy Kimmel Ride. What do I say to that? I hear you ask?? Well, I think they all need to grow some balls; the ride was amazing!
If you’d like to see some of my views on the rides I went on, I’ve got a full playlist live on my channel!
On the other hand, following my depressing return, I came across the Ingham Family; little did I know that they’re actually pretty local to me. Sarah Ingham has been to get her nails done at my hairdressers every now and again. I’m not being funny but if I bumped into her, I’d probably act like I did to that check out lady from T-K Maxx. Anyway, they were out there at the same time as me, but I didn’t know how big they were or who they were when I was out there, unfortunately. To make things better, they’re regulars to Orlando, and they’ve just taken another trip!
Or, Disneygrammers… not sure if I made that one up, probably not! Whilst I was out in Orlando, I found a lot of Travel Instagram Accounts. I didn’t go out there with that intention, it just kind of happened.
First of all, the girl that really inspires me, and she probably won’t ever read this but Em, if you’re reading this, hello! I’m not sure if it’s Emma or Emily, but your accounts say Em, so hello Em! Okay, so I found ‘@emhalford‘ when she was posting on the ‘it’s Orlando Time’ Facebook group that I am a part of, and even if I never go again (never say that again Emma) I’ll probably never leave!
Em is a fellow vlogger but mainly an Instagrammer. Her and her Fiance Andy actually got engaged whilst I was on holiday in Disney (the good old romantic castle proposal!), congratulations! And now they look to be in St. Lucia. I’m genuinely not sure which one I’m more jealous at to be honest. Anyway, on their joint account, @disneywithandyandem, the name says it all really; they post about their travels!
Mouseketeers and Butterbeers
I mean, I’m sorry but this has to be one of my favourite accounts on Instagram, just because of the name! I’m not very good with Geography, but this Grammerlives in Alabama according to their page. I’ve a feeling Alabama is up north somewhere, but in my eyes, they live in the same country as Orlando, so they’ve got better access than me, and for that I’m very jealous. I’m not even too sure who owns this account, but the clarity and the brightness of the pictures has always stood out to me, and so has the name! Gosh that name, if only I could be that creative; it’s genius!
So with that, ladies and gents, I’m going to leave you with some of my own favourite Instagram pictures of my holiday. Feel free to follow me over at @ariverofroses