Visiting Florida for the first time can be exciting for anyone coming in from out of state. You’ve seen the pictures of the white sandy beaches, the beautiful water, and the theme parks, and you just couldn’t wait another minute to head down with your kids. Maybe you took advantage of some last minute travel bargains and just booked the trip. That’s awesome! Florida is happy to have you there. But before you get caught up in the beauty and the beach, you should know that Florida can be different than you envisioned once the veil is lifted!
The first thing you need to know is, Florida is HOT! The moment you get out of your vehicle, or step outside of the airport, you are instantly hit with a wave of heat like nothing you’ve ever felt before. It’s hot, and NOT in a good way! The humidity can take your breath away if you aren’t used to it. Make sure you prepare yourself by staying hydrated and dressing appropriately. If you don’t think you’ll be able to handle extreme heat, save your Florida vacation for November-January.
Another thing about that Florida humidity: don’t forget to pack hair spray, smoothing serums, and anything else you may need to keep your hair from flying away from your head! “Florida hair” is a thing and you are going to want your hair to look a little better for all of those family photos! And, don’t forget to pack the sunblock! If you’re fair-skinned like me, bring those SPF proof swim shirts too!
Do you speak a second language? Florida is a melting pot of people from all over the world. More than a third of the population is bilingual. If you are planning to visit the lower half of the state, know that Spanish may be the primary language in that area. You should also be prepared for hospitality professionals who don’t speak English as fluent as you might prefer. –Florida can be a little like visiting another country. That’s one of the reasons we love it!
Tourist Traps. Here in Florida there are businesses and “hotel shows” all over that are designed solely to appeal to tourist. The products they sell are usually poorly made and expensive! If you aren’t sure what a tourist trap is, look for the signs that say “Free Orange Juice” or “Baby Alligators.” Proceed with caution or avoid them altogether.
Shopping at Disney. You can find Disney merchandise anywhere for prices much cheaper than you are going to find IN the parks, however, are you buying merchandise or a souvenir? Disney merchandise can be purchased anywhere and at any time; buy it online for even greater savings. But if you want a souvenir, think of something unique inside of the park. Get a ride T-shirt, or something you can only buy in the park because it is going to have a memory attached to it. Buying Disney souvenirs outside of the park really takes away from the experience. I purchased a wind chime at Epcot when I was ten years old. I can buy wind chimes like it almost anywhere else in the state I want, but because I bought it on my first trip to Epcot, it’s still special. That’s the difference.
Plan for extras. Florida has a lot of experiences, restaurants, and side shows you will want to visit too. Don’t spend your entire vacation budget just on lodging and the major theme parks. There are many, many, other things to do that you may enjoy MORE than the theme parks! If you can, set aside HALF of your budget for unplanned activities.
Groupon! Before you buy event tickets, meals, lodging, ANYTHING, check Groupon! You can save up to 75% off on museum tickets and events if check Groupon before your trip AND while you are here.
Protect yourself. Tourist are often a target to scammers and addicts who are trying to gather money. They will come up to your car in the parking lot at major retailers, stop you on the sidewalk, or try to catch you walking into businesses. Most are harmless, BUT don’t pull out your wallet, don’t give them money, and do stay alert. Saying “I’m Local” can sometimes be enough to get them to leave you alone. Keep pepper-spray on you just in case.
Try something new. If you haven’t been to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, you won’t want to miss it. Check out all the fun we had on our last Florida vacation HERE.
Where Are You Going on Your Next Florida Vacation?
Share Your Best Florida Tip in the Comments Below!