When it is time for family fun vacations, it can be hard to decide where to go. If you want to narrow it down, consider that two of the top family vacations people choose are the mountains or theme parks. For those of us in the Southeast, that often means a choice between an Orlando vacation and the Great Smoky Mountains, both of which have some pretty terrific features.


Calypso Cay Resort

Orlando is right in the middle of Florida, within easy driving distance of both coasts. This makes it a wonderful spot to vacation, because it gives visitors the option of leaving Orlando to experience some of the other interesting places in Florida. Places near Orlando include St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, Tampa, home to Busch Gardens, Cape Canaveral and the Canaveral National Seashore, and much more.

On the other hand, once you are in Orlando, you may never want to leave! Whether you want to spend time in the thriving downtown area, perhaps riding the swan boats on Lake Eola, take a boat tour through Winter Park’s chain of lakes, or just stick to the Kissimmee area and all the theme parks, you will surely never be bored. Theme parks in Orlando include:

  • Walt Disney World, including The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and Animal Kingdom
  • SeaWorld
  • Wet and Wild
  • Gatorland
  • Universal  Orlando Resort including Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

The Great Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountains


Of all the National Parks in America, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited. This is because its natural beauty is breathtaking, its flora and fauna are diverse, and the Appalachian culture it helps to preserve is fascinating. Very near to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, it offers visitors such activities as:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking trails
  • Auto trails
  • The opportunity for shop for treasures, in the nation’s largest arts and crafts community

No matter what your vacation preference, you can find help planning your trip from Best Vacations Ever. With expert advice and know-how on the best ways to spend your travel time, they can help you to plan the vacation of your dreams. Check them out online, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter, to learn more.


A theme park vacation is a dream for many families, but for those trying to plan family vacations on a budget, it can be difficult to make that dream a reality. There are some tricks, however, that veteran theme park visitors know, for keeping cost down and value high. Among these techniques are several that pertain to dining at a theme park on the cheap.

  • Eat before you go. Having a big breakfast can push lunchtime back for your family. Load up on carbs, but make sure to have some protein to give the breakfast some staying power.
  • Pack a lunch. Most theme parks, Walt Disney World included, allow visitors to bring food into the park, as long as it doesn’t require heating. Bringing snacks and sandwiches can really cut down on the money you spend in the park!
  • Dine outside the park. Get your hand stamped, so that you can leave and come back. Then head off to eat like a local, and you will save at least 25 percent on your meal.
  • Utilize the dining plan. On the other hand, if packing it in or leaving to find food is not your style, find out if the park offers a dining plan. Walt Disney World, for example, offers vacation packages that include discounted dining for guests staying at one of the Disney resort properties. In addition, some park restaurants offer free meals to children, with the purchase of an adult meal. Do a little research ahead of time, and you will save your family some money.
  • Save money on drinks. It may seem pricey, but if the souvenir mug offered by the park comes with free drink refills, it is probably worth the money. Another strategy is to bring drink flavoring packets, and fill water bottles from the water fountains. Mix in your flavor packet, and you have a tasty beverage!
  • When you do spend, make it count. Steer clear of fast-food type items that you can pick up anywhere. Choose something special, since you are going to spend money that you would not normally spend.

When you are ready to plan a trip, Preferred Guest Resorts can help. Visit them on the web at BestVacationsEver.com to learn more about planning family vacations on a budget. Whether you are interested in a beach vacation, theme park, or another destination, they can offer expert advice and assistance in making arrangements.

When experienced travelers offer travel tips, packing everything into your carry-on is one of the first tips on the list. This is because tightened airline security and higher prices for checked baggage have rendered it impractical for most people to check luggage when they fly. Managing to fit everything into a small bag is a skill that can be learned, with a little practice and a few tricks.

  • Know your measurements. Check the airline’s website ahead of time to find out the measurements of allowed carry-ons. Bear in mind, you are often allowed “extras,” like a laptop bag or a purse. Make the most of these items to maximize your allotted space.
  • Roll it! One of the best ways to fit a good number of articles of clothing into a small space is to roll them. Fold items in half, lengthwise, and then roll them tightly from the top down. You will be amazed at how much will fit into a small space.
  • Dress for success. Wear your heaviest clothes to the airport. This may sound silly, but it can mean the difference between making your carry-on weight limit or exceeding it. Do you need a sweater and a coat? Wear them both, to avoid packing them. Consider carrying things in your pockets, as well, to reduce what goes in your bag.
  • Purchase when you arrive. Some things, like liquid toiletries, can no longer be carried onto a flight. Fortunately, most of those items will be available at your destination. Save yourself some space, and buy them when you get there.

Traveling without checking any baggage can be a breeze, once you get used to strategic packing! You will want to spend more time vacationing, traveling to exciting destinations. For help planning your next trip, visit Best Vacations Ever for more travel tips and expert insights.

If you’re trying to plan a family getaway but you’re stuck in a rut, try booking with an online travel portal, like Best Vacations Ever. Here, you’ll discover how easy and affordable it is to create an amazing adventure in the great Smoky Mountains, year-round.

The Smoky Mountains are America’s most visited national park and are world renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains and the quality of its remnants of Appalachian  mountain culture.

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