The beginning of this new decade sure has been one for the history books! With its very own special brand of insanity a la pandemic and politics, far too many of us have found our lives turned upside down and inside out. What’s worse, last year we didn’t even have the luxury of taking a vacation, thanks to the various travel bans and restrictions that got put in place. A year later, and we have three different iterations on a COVID-19 vaccine that are fairly widely available, and becoming ever more so by the day.
Between that and the precautions that we’ve practiced for the better part of a year now, cases are decreasing and restrictions are lifting. If all of that has you looking hungrily at your calendar and bank account in anticipation of your next vacation, you aren’t alone. Everyone’s itching for a vacation. Florida has traditionally been a popular vacation destination. If a trip to Florida sounds like just what your doctor ordered, there are some things you’ll need to do to plan the perfect trip.
Book Your Reservations
To start with, you’re going to need to plan out the things you’ll need reservations for. There are a few. You’ll need a place to stay, a way to get there, and ways to get around after you arrive. Depending on what you intend to do, you may need to make reservations for various activities or restaurants. This is one area where careful planning can save you a decent amount of money. Generally speaking, the further in advance you make your reservations, the less you’re going to end up paying for them. By comparison, last-minute reservations tend to be more expensive. The exception is when a company is trying to fill empty slots close to the date. They may drop the price to encourage people to make reservations with them. That isn’t usually the sort of thing you want to bank on though. If you end up being wrong, you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. On a similar note, when it comes to booking your flights, you may want to carefully consider what days of the week you really want to travel. Some days have less expensive prices than others, so if that’s important to you, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Think of Local Attractions
There are a ton of things to do during a trip to Florida. They have multiple amusement parks to visit. Florida’s pretty famous for ones like Walt Disney World, Sea World Florida, and Universal Studios Florida, but those are far from the only options available. If you like golf, Florida has some of the world’s best golf courses. There’s a pretty awesome mini golf scene too if you want something a little more lighthearted and easy-going. For the science-minded tourist, the Kennedy Space Center can be an exciting adventure. The Florida Everglades can be a great attraction for those who love the outdoors. Opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, biking, camping, and observing wildlife abound. Of course, it’s tough to talk about Florida attractions without mentioning the beaches. Florida has a ton of fantastic beaches to visit, whether you’re looking to catch some rays (sun rays, that is – leave the stingrays alone), splash in the water, or get sporty with some beach volleyball.
Once you’ve compiled a list of attractions that you think would be fun to check out, it’s time to start planning your itinerary. Carefully planning your vacation schedule may sound like it takes all the fun and spontaneity out of your adventure, and maybe for some people, it would. If you have a lot of things you want to see and do, however, having a solid plan is a must. Just ask anyone who’s tried to see it all at an amusement park. Getting to see everything at an amusement park with all the lines and different attractions takes some real strategy. Whatever you decide to plan as far as your activities go, base your decisions on the area you intend to visit. Figure out how much you want to do and how long you want to be there so you don’t miss anything.
Make a List of Restaurants
Everyone needs to eat, and a trip to Florida is the perfect time and excuse to indulge your inner foodie with some special trips to restaurants. Florida’s a pretty big state, so don’t make the mistake of just looking up the top restaurants in the state. Instead, narrow it down to the general area you intend to visit. You could stick with the city you’ll be in or expand to nearby areas. As you look at different options, start forming a list of the ones you want to eat at. Remember, a trip away from home is the perfect opportunity to step outside your normal comfort zone and try new places. As such, it may be best to try to avoid the habit of going to the same chains and franchises you have at home. Consider broadening your tastes by trying new cuisines from around the world. Look for hole-in-the-wall restaurants with an excellent reputation. Remember to check to see if you need to make reservations in advance and how busy they tend to be at the times you might visit. While you’re at it, check the dress code. More upscale restaurants may not allow you to enter if you aren’t properly dressed for the venue.
Plan Your Transportation
While you’re in Florida, you’re going to need a way to get around. There are a few options here, and the best one for you will depend on your budget, the area, and what your planned activities are. Ridesharing is still an option, and still generally a more affordable option compared to taking a taxi. If you’re visiting for a theme park excursion and intend to stay at one of the park hotels, you may not need much in the way of extra transportation. An Uber or Lyft from the airport to the hotel, to any restaurants you intend to visit, and then back to the airport may be enough to cover your transportation needs. You may be able to get to everywhere else you need to go on your own two legs. If your transportation needs are a bit more involved, consider renting a car. Car rentals offer you the convenience of getting around on your own time without worrying about how many miles you’re driving or how many minutes you’re racking up. It also avoids the need to put miles on your own car and the wear and tear that comes with that. Depending on where you are, you might even be able to use a golf cart. Golf carts are popular ways of getting around in Key West, Florida. Scooters, mopeds, and bikes may also be available to rent, if you prefer using one of those to get around.
Choose Your Timing Wisely
Florida is called the Sunshine State for a good reason. Depending on the area, the sun shines between 60-70% of the year, with the greater number of sunny days happening in the southern parts of the state. Even so, it’s not always sunshine and butterflies. Florida has a pretty impressive rainy season, which runs from mid-May through mid-October. Hurricane season starts in the middle of that at the beginning of June and runs through the end of November. While that doesn’t guarantee that your vacation will be overshadowed by rainstorms the whole time or that you’ll encounter hurricane conditions, the chances are greater if you plan your Florida vacation during those months. It’s also a good idea to check out when other vacationers typically flock to Florida. For the most relaxing vacation, choose the timing of your vacation to be during warm weather that has less of a chance of becoming torrential and when fewer people are likely to be visiting at the same time
Familiarize Yourself with Florida’s Climate
The general weather conditions in terms of rainy or dry seasons and hurricane seasons aren’t the only aspects of Florida’s climate you would do well to pay attention to. Florida tends to be quite warm in comparison to many other parts of the country. It also tends to be incredibly humid as well. If you aren’t used to that level of humidity, you might find yourself thinking that you’re drinking your air instead of breathing it, especially if you’re from one of the nation’s drier cities. In order to have a safe, comfortable, enjoyable trip, you need to pack appropriately for hot humidity, bearing in mind that you could also encounter some impressively wet conditions if you travel to Florida during the rainy season.
Learn about Wildlife Safety Precautions
It’s not just the weather and climate you would do well to become familiar with before you travel to Florida. The Sunshine State is home to a vast array of wildlife, and it does tend to be just that—wild. There’s a reason it’s sometimes referred to as the Australia of the United States. Florida is home to various species of snakes, sharks, fish, and spiders, wild boars, the Florida panther, the American alligator, crocodiles, and jellyfish, all of which can be harmful to humans. That doesn’t even touch on the irritation that bugs like mosquitoes can bring on. If you spend much time outside in Florida, especially in areas like the Everglades, it’s extremely important that you stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Most of these animals prefer to leave humans alone, but will likely attack you if they feel threatened.
Decide Where You’re Going to Stay
When you’re booking your reservations, one of the reservations you’ll need to make is for the place you intend to stay during your visit. Unless you have friends or family in the area you’ll be crashing with, you’ll need to plan on renting out a space. There are multiple options to choose from, depending on your budget, preferences, and circumstances. There are a ton of hotels you can choose from if you want. Airbnb rentals are another popular option, often seen as having an advantage over hotels since they tend to be cheaper and offer more variety in terms of experiences and accommodations. Past a certain point, once you’ve stayed in enough hotels there often isn’t much of anything new about the experience. Alternatively, you could give staying in a hostel a try. It’s definitely a unique experience in comparison to an Airbnb or hotel. A hostel can be a good option for some people, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you decide to go that route.
Pick Your Travel Buddies
Who you travel with can make or break your experience on your trip. As such, it’s always a good idea to pick your travel buddies very carefully. You should consider who you’re traveling with as you make the plans for your trip. It should impact where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and where you’ll be eating. Chances are the vacation you plan if you’re going as a family with a small child isn’t the same trip you’d plan if you were with a bunch of your friends. If you were going for a romantic getaway with your significant other, that would be a whole different experience as well.
Planning the perfect trip to Florida can be a great way to celebrate the loosening of various pandemic-related restrictions and give your mental health a much-needed boost. As with any amazing vacation, you’ll need some time to get all the details sorted. You’ll need to make arrangements for accommodations, decide how you want to spend your time, become familiar with what you should expect from the area you’ll be visiting, and figure out who you want to travel with. Remember to get your budget sorted out before you get too carried away with your plans. That will help you get off to a good start when planning the perfect trip to Florida.
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