If you're considering a family holiday in Orlando, Florida, renting a villa offers flexible sleeping arrangements, tailored facilities, plenty of space and access to local attractions. But when you're traveling with kids, doing a little pre-planning and research before you book your accommodation will make your visit smoother once you arrive.
The time of year you visit Orlando can be an important factor in the enjoyment of your trip, especially when you're traveling with kids. As well as taking into account the weather at different times of year, if you're planning to visit the amusement parks, you may want to take into account crowd and traffic levels. Queuing for popular rides in the hot sun may not be practical with younger children. Undercover Tourist has a crowd calendar function that helps you plan your visit to make the most of the parks.
If you have young children, choosing a suitable villa layout is important. You may want to consider whether a villa has stairs, and if so, whether stair gates are provided. Many villas are all on one level, making them particularly suitable for pre-walkers and toddlers.
If you're traveling to Orlando in the summer months, it's advisable to check whether your villa has air conditioning. This is especially relevant if you're traveling with very young children who may have trouble sleeping at night in the heat. Some villas may also have ceiling fans, or provide portable fans or air conditioning units, which can be placed in a child's room.
Some villa complexes are gated and guarded for extra security, so children can use the community facilities safely.
Renting a villa with a private pool is an attractive option, keeping the kids happy for hours, especially in the sunny summer months. But for your peace of mind during your stay, check whether pools have fencing and secure gates to keep younger children away from the water when unattended.
If you're traveling to Orlando in the winter months, a heated pool is an added bonus that will let the kids enjoy the water whatever the weather.
Many Orlando villa complexes have community facilities such as shared pool areas – check whether communal pool areas have lifeguards on duty, as some do not offer this service, so children must be attended.
If you're flying to Orlando, you'll want to minimise the amount of baby equipment you have to take on the plane. International and internal flights will often allow you to take a stroller (pushchair) through check-in and load it at the gate, but you can avoid having to take one at all if you source a stroller at your destination.
Start by checking if your villa rental includes a stroller, as many do. Some villas or resort complexes will provide them on request. Alternatively, there are local rental companies in Orlando that lease strollers for the duration of your stay, delivering and collecting from your resort. There's information online on the various companies that offer this service. Theme parks in the area such as Disney World also have stroller rental locations throughout the park. You can pre-book strollers for the number of days you're staying, then simply pick up each day you arrive at the park. One last option is to buy a low-cost stroller from a store like Walmart once you arrive, who have a range at budget prices.
Another item of baby equipment you may need to consider is a highchair. Many villas provide a highchair as part of their itinerary. If your villa doesn't, then there are local rental companies who can deliver to your villa. The same is true of sleeping equipment such as cribs, toddler beds and bedding and baby monitors – your villa may well include these items, or there are rental options in the area.
If you're visiting Orlando with older children or teenagers, keeping them entertained in your villa will give you plenty of time to relax by the pool. Before booking, check what entertainment equipment is provided – for example, televisions are standard, but many villas also provide DVD players, games systems and internet access. Some villas offer games and sports equipment such as pool and table tennis tables and board games. Villa complexes may also offer facilities like larger communal pools and play equipment.
If you're keen to get some adult time alone while you're on holiday, you may want to take advantage of local babysitting services. There are several well-established Orlando companies who provide fully licensed and background-checked sitters who you can book in advance or on the day. Your villa owner or the villa complex may be able to recommend local sitters too. Some theme parks also provide childcare facilities.
Check whether your villa has facilities for washing and drying clothes, as this will save on the amount you need to pack, which can be considerable with small children. Knowing you can wash clothes easily will make sticky ice creams, playgrounds and beach trips less stressful.
If you're driving or hiring a car in Orlando, you'll be able to access local stores with little difficulty from your villa, but you may want to check out the location of the nearest store for essential supplies such as diapers (nappies), milk and baby food, to save having to worry about packing too much. If you're relying on local taxi services, checking the location of villas in relation to visitor attractions and local shops may save you money on fares.