The Sunshine State, the Alligator State, the Seventh Circle of Hell – Florida has many names. But we call it Home. Because tourism is fundamental to our economy, we thought some insider knowledge might help those planning a trip. Here are ten Florida travel tips from a native and a transplant living the Florida life.

    Florida Travel Tip 1: Hydrate

    Surprise! It’s hot and humid in Florida.

    Once summer rolls around, you aren’t far from heatstroke regardless of where you go. You’ll walk to the car and sweat your pants off. Locals don’t mind it much. We do our outdoor activities in the spring, winter, and fall. We might head to the beach or relax by the pool in the summer if we do happen to venture outside.

    But the thing you need to remember is that safety becomes a concern. We imagine you aren’t coming to Florida to sit inside in the air conditioning. Try to schedule activities in the early morning and rest in the middle of the day when the heat is at its worst.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Hydrate well. Bring a reusable water bottle regardless of where you plan to spend the day.

    Grey water bottle in front of Epcot ball and blue skies

    Florida Travel Tip 2: Bring a Sweater 

    Yes, you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, but you’ll want something to cover up with when you head inside. With the A/C working double duty it’s easy to catch a chill when you head inside for a break, a meal, or a movie.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Even if you’re traveling to Florida in the summer, be sure to pack a light sweater. It’ll come in handy when the blasting cold air becomes a little too much.

    Woman in white sweater walking towards two large, rustic wooden doors

    Florida Travel Tip 3: Prepare for Rain

    If you’re visiting anytime between April and October, listen up! You’ll undoubtedly find yourself ducking for cover mid-afternoon. We may call it the Sunshine State, but Florida is also known for its torrential downpours.

    It doesn’t last long, but the thunder, wind, and dark skies are enough to invoke feelings of the apocalypse. Don’t fret. It’ll subside, and the sun will shine again.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Florida rain can come at you from all angles. Consider packing a rain jacket versus an umbrella, as umbrellas only help when rain is coming straight down (which almost never happens in Florida).

    If you’re going to theme parks, put your pride aside and get some rain ponchos from the grocery store. They pack flat and fit into any small daypack. If you get caught in a downpour in the middle of Disney, you’ll be glad you have it to cover you and your belongings.

    Bonus Tip:

    We have Hurricane Season. It’s a thing. If you’re traveling to Florida between June and November, know what your options are in the event of a storm.

    Woman standing in rain under tree cover in bright pink raincoat

    Florida Travel Tip 4: The Sun is Everywhere

    The sun in Florida is intense. I grew up in the Northeast and was surprised by how much more I “felt” the sun in Florida. I didn’t wear sunscreen much as a child or young adult (I know, I know) but after moving to Florida, I instantly felt the heat.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting our beaches or spending time outside at one of our other attractions. Time of year doesn’t matter either. January, March, August, or November – it won’t make much difference. It even shines when it’s raining!

    Here’s the Tip:

    Slather sunscreen over your entire body! You might even consider some sun-protective clothing to help shield your skin. Some of my favorites are Athleta for the ladies (both big and little) and Coolibar for all members of the family.

    If you aren’t prone to burning and tend to go lighter on the SPF, you might want to re-think your coverage plans. The last thing you want is a peeling forehead or blistering shoulders as a souvenir.

    Four different types of sunscreen sitting on wooden table

    Florida Travel Tip 5: Check the Weather

    If you haven’t guessed this by now after the first four Florida travel tips, you haven’t learned anything. Before I moved to Florida, I always assumed “warm and sunny.” But Florida’s climate can vary drastically depending on geography and time of year.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Check the weather before you pack. Check the weather after you pack. Then check the weather each day of your vacation before you head out. It’ll help you prepare as best you can. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to check the weather throughout the day.

    Bonus Tip for the Ladies:

    Your makeup will melt off your face, your hair will frizz, and you’re going to sweat. If you’re spending time outside, your style should be light and effortless. It just isn’t worth wasting your time if you’re going to be in the heat.

    Woman in distance dancing in the rain by a pool

    Florida Travel Tip 6: No State Income Tax = Tax Elsewhere

    One thing we love about living in Florida is that there is no state income tax. As a former Marylander having also lived in California, I know what state income tax can do to your wallet.

    While that’s perfect for Florida locals like us, the state has to make money somehow. Tourism taxes are a huge draw for government funding. A cheap hotel room or a great deal at the outlets can add up quickly.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Consider the local and state taxes when budgeting for your trip. Hotel rooms will have sales AND resort taxes that vary based on location. Do your research. Sales tax can range from 6% to 8%.

    In other news, we appreciate your business.

    Beachfront hotels from the edge of the ocean

    Florida Travel Tip 7: Prepare for Toll Roads

    Another source of Florida income is our toll roads. The Florida Turnpike system alone will force you to cough up a pretty penny. Keep that in mind primarily between Central Florida, Orlando, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Tampa is full of toll roads too, like the Veteran’s Expressway.

    Then there’s what I like to call “the trap” in Orlando. There are two primary ways out of Orlando International Airport, both of which are toll roads. I often wonder what tourists do when they find themselves trapped between the two.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Add the toll service to your rental car agreement or pick up a Sunpass. Depending on your location, you could get away with paying at a drive-up window. But that assumes you have cash on you.

    If you don’t buy the toll option with your rental car in advance, the fees can add up quickly. Consequently, you might want to do your wallet a favor and plan to add on the option.

    Bonus Tip:

    Sunpass is compatible with some of the local and regional pass transponders up the East Coast. However, not all. Be sure to check with your particular highway administration to see if you can use a pre-existing transponder in Florida.

    Ariel view of cars driving down the highway with residences on both sides

    Florida Travel Tip 8: Catch a Sunrise OR a Sunset – Or Both!

    You probably know we have a lot of beaches in Florida. South Beach, Siesta Key, and Daytona Beach, to name a few.

    There’s the Gulf side in the West, known for its crystal blue calm waters. Then there’s the Atlantic side in the East, known for its surf conditions. We also have the Emerald Coast in the Northwest with places like Pensacola Beach and Destin. And of course, we have the Florida Keys, which pretty much speak for themselves.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Florida’s geography is pretty neat. You can watch the sunrise on the east coast and in a few hours, be over on the west coast preparing for a gorgeous sunset. If you’re planning a beach vacation, consider scheduling a photo session.

    Heck, nothing is THAT far from a beach in Florida. Wake up early – it isn’t that hard! Or take an early evening stroll for that perfect Instagram shot.

    Orange and blue sunset over the dark blue ocean

    Florida Travel Tip 9: Disney World Tips are a World All Their Own

    As Central Floridians, we don’t frequent Disney World as much as one might think. So, we’ll leave those tips to the experts.

    Check out WDW Prep School and Traveling Mom for some top-notch insights. But we did feel that a Florida travel tips list should include at least one on Disney World.

    Here’s the Tip:

    Bring food and water with you to the parks! Simple but often overlooked. In a world where sneaking Goobers into a movie theater can get you banned for life, I know this sounds pretty crazy. But you can bring these things in with you!

    Something we always make sure to do is bring a refillable water bottle stay hydrated, which is Florida travel tip number one! Check out the Disney policy on what you can and can’t bring just to be safe. But this will save you money, meltdowns, and sanity.

    Woman in black and white striped shirt holding a Lara Bar in a cocktail lounge

    Florida Travel Tip 10: Florida is a Great Place to Drink!

    Our blog, Intoxicating World, is about traveling the world in search of the best beer, wine, spirits, and bars. And we have plenty of that at home in Florida! Just check out this post about unique drinking establishments in St. Augustine.

    Here’s the tip:

    While you’re here, don’t forget to sip the best of what Florida has to offer. Check out some of our Food & Wine Festivals, Florida Wineries & Vineyards, and Florida Breweries!

    Smiling couple holding draft beers in front of palm tree and blue cloudy sky

    Florida In a Nutshell

    Florida is a dynamic, diverse, and enjoyable place to visit. We hope you enjoy your time here! We find a great planning resource, so be sure to check it out. And don’t forget to explore our Florida travels on our destinations page, along with all our other stops around the globe!

    Have any Florida tips of your own? Have any questions about traveling to the Sunshine State? Leave a comment below! 

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    Kate is Co-Founder and Content Creator at Intoxicating World, a travel blog featuring the history, culture, and booze of the world. She loves a good cabernet, won’t turn down a dirty vodka martini, and will usually order the Hefeweizen on tap.
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