After dreaming of it for years and planning for months, it was finally time to head off on our US road trip! We decided to stay the night at Gatwick Travel lodge to save having to get up early for a two-hour drive to the airport. You can get a family room for just £59 for a night! The hotel room was immaculate and we were impressed with the hotel facilities. In the morning we head down for breakfast. A full buffet breakfast costs around £9.50 and with every paying adult two children get to eat for free! The breakfast buffet offered everything from cereal and fruit to a full English breakfast (although a man was demanding his money back for his stay as there were no fried eggs, so if it’s fried eggs you’re after this isn’t the hotel for you).
(You can book your stay at the Travel lodge Gatwick airport here https://www.travelodge.co.uk/hotels/517/Gatwick-Airport-Central-hotel )
It was a five-minute drive to the airport carpark. We chose to book with purple parking as it was the cheapest option and we have used them previously. The price to park at the airport for three and a half weeks was £150.00, which included late return cover (You can book your parking at http://www.purpleparking.com). After a long queue getting checked in and going through security, we head straight to our gate to board.
We booked our flights with Norwegian Air through Skyscanner, and decided to fly into Orlando airport. The flight there was what I had been worrying about- a nine-hour, daytime flight with three children, it was going to be a very, long day! A few things I want to mention about the flight:
- We opted for Lowfare which was the cheapest option. This meant that we had to pay to reserve our seats, to add on checked luggage and for all food and drink. After adding all of these extras onto the price, it actually would’ve worked out cheaper to choose the Lowfare+ option (which includes seat reservation, a meal and 20kg of checked luggage).
- You don’t get much leg room! Norwegian air is well known for their long-haul budget flights, so we managed to save a lot of money by flying with them, but that does mean you don’t have the luxuries that other airlines offer. It’s quite a cramped space to be in for such a long journey, so if you’re wanting more comfort it might be worth upgrading or checking out another airline.
- There’s not a huge food selection, and it’s expensive! $7 for a cheese and ham toastie, $4 for a small bag of crisps. My advice is to pack plenty of snacks. We actually saw a lady boarding with a takeaway pizza she had bought at the airport. Why have we never thought of that?!
- You have to pay for headphones and blankets. Take your own headphones to save money. For kids, we recommend these- (also available in blue and purple) https://amzn.to/2VQ79YG
- You get a good selection of films. There were plenty of options for adults and kids. You also get a selection of games, a 3D map and the flight menu so you can order food or duty-free items to your seat.
When we arrived at Orlando airport, we had a long wait to get through security. (Another tip: when reserving your seats, choose seats towards the front of the aeroplane so you can get ahead of the queue). We collected up our 4 suitcases, 4 hand luggage cases, buggy, 3 car seats and 3 children (did I overpack? Yes, yes, I did!), and stepped out into the Orlando sunshine. To save waiting for a taxi, which would never have fit all of our luggage in, we downloaded an app called Shuttle2anywhere and booked our minibus in advance. It allows you to input your flight number so they will be aware of any delays.
You cannot hire an RV for the day you land in the US, so our first night we spent at Staysky suites ($157 for one night in a one-bedroom family suite). The hotel is conveniently located on International drive, but the hotel itself was not very impressive. It was pretty dated and dim inside. Breakfast was included in the price but the breakfast menu was limited. It does have a pool outside and a small games room inside (again pretty dated). It was ok for one night to sleep but I wouldn’t recommend it for a longer stay.
In an attempt to keep ourselves awake we walked round to BJ’s; an American restaurant located on I-drive. It had a real typical American feel with big screens showing baseball and basketball. The food was great and the menu had a huge selection all at a reasonable price. After dinner and the most amazing cookie pudding. We went back to the hotel for a much-needed sleep (little did we know we would be wide awake at 4am- thank you jetlag).
Don’t forget to check out our USA gallery for more photos of our time in Orlando! You can also read more about it over on Daisy’s mini blog page!