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  1. Default First ever road trip, very nervous!!

    Hi guys,

    Firstly hi, and what a great forum you have, some fantastic information and tips...

    Myself and my partner are visiting Florida next week for 14 days from the UK. We have the first 7 days in a friends villa in Orlando, so will be doing the usual touristy bits then.

    The second week we have hired a car and are looking to travel from Orlando, Palm Beach, Miami, Keys, Everglades, Clearwater, Tampa and returning to Sanford airport. We have planned to allow one night in Miami, 2 nights in the keys area (most likely Islamorada) a night in Naples, 2/3 nights in Clearwater area.

    Im looking for some advice as to whether a) this is achievable in the time to appreciate all the sights b) whether anyone could suggest or point us in the direction of the best routes c) has anyone done this in the week and can offer any advice?

    Thank you so much in advance, and if this has already been covered previously, please point me in the right direction as I tried searching to no avail! Thanks, Luke

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Easy does it.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    The thought can be a little daunting, but let me assure you, driving on the wrong side on US roads is easier than most places you will ever drive. Still, if the thought makes you nervous, plan to limit your miles per day for the first few days. Increasing them as you feel more confident.

    If you have not been to the Kennedy Space Centre with your friends, I would start heading down the coast from there

    As you head down the coast, rather than take I-95, take US1, a slower road, but a good road to drive (drove it most of yesterday and today). You can at given pojints, interchange this with A1A which is the most easterly roade with accvess to Atlantic Ocean beaches at given points. North of Palm Beach is Fort Pierce with its beautiful Arcade building and the spectacular murals thereon. Definitely don't miss them.

    It is really from Palm Beach south that you will find the roads quite busy at peak hour during the week. So I would avoid peak hour driving from there to Miami.

    The Keys can take you two days to drive, or two hours. Just depends on how much you want to experience along the way. If you are going as far as Ismoralda, then why not go all the way to Key West? There is so myuch there that can be done on foot. Park the car and stroll the streetw, beaches and chat with those who live there.

    Don't forget to allow at least a day for the Everglades national park. There are boat tours and sea / bird life galore. A wonderful experience. You may even get to see Alligators and Crocodiles. The devestation of Hurricane Wilma is still very visible in the Flamingo area

    Timiami Trail will take you through the northern Everglades to Naples. On the way you will pass by`Big Cypress Preserve, the natural habitat of the highly endangered Florida Panther. They have tours through the park from the visitor centre. You may be lucky enough to see one of these magnificent creatures.

    If you have a good look at a map you will see there are many accommodation options in those areas, besides the big cities.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Bit Busy But

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The loop you have outlined for your post-Orlando visit is certainly doable over a week. The driving bit will take roughly the equivalent of a day and a half, leaving you five days or so (depending on exactly how you're splitting your two weeks and how early you have to be back to catch your return flight) to enjoy the towns you're driving to. So, a couple of spots to spend time on the drives (as opposed to the areas with multi-night stops), one you've mentioned and one you haven't.

    On the way south from Orlando, I'd suggest that you first head directly for the Atlantic and Cape Canaveral. The highlight of such a 'detour' would be the Kennedy Space Center, but there is also the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

    The other spot that bears mentioning is the Everglades. While it looks easy on a general map to include this on a trip fro the Keys to Naples, that's not really the case. If you just drive up US-1 to US-41, yes you will enter the park, and the Shark Valley Visitor Center on US-41 can give you a lot of information about the wetlands. But to truly experience them you have to enter deep into the 'glades' by taking route 9336 out of Florida City 50 miles or so into the park and the Flamingo Visitors Center. This also means driving the same 50 miles back to Florida City before continuing your trip up to Naples. That will make for a very long day, so plan on getting on the road early from Islamorada and having a definite reservation held for you in Naples.


  4. Default

    Guys, thank you so much some great advice and tips that i will deffinately incorporate! Any tips on car hire/ refuelling etc? Thanks again, Luke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    For car rental, the best advice is to just keep shopping around. Most of the time you don't have to put down any money on a reservation, so if you find a good price lock it in, but keep looking as prices can change frequently and you might find a better deal later.

    For refueling, the only thing I'd suggest is that you decline any "offer" to prepay for fuel, as that is a huge money maker for the car rental companies. Just make sure you give yourself time to fill up the tank on your way to the airport before you drop it off.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    With regards to the car rental, I would agree that shopping around is your best bet but once you have a good deal compare it to The last couple of trips from the UK we have found them to be the most competitive and never had any problems.

  7. Default

    Thanks Dave , i will take a look...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Driving in Florida.

    Daughter who lives in FL happened to mention something which may help calm your nervousness. She explained that she was not looking forward to moving to Boston, as she enjoyed driving the wide open roads, mostly laid out on a grid, in southern FL, and is aware that in cities like Boston the roads are narrow, wind all over the place and have little room for parked vehicles.

    So look forward to driving the wide open roads of FL.

    But to truly experience them [the Everglades] you have to enter deep into the 'glades' by taking route 9336 out of Florida City 50 miles or so into the park and the Flamingo Visitors Center.
    I'd heartily agree with Buck here, in fact I would go further and suggest that you take the trip on the Pelican (boat) into the everglades. It departs from Flamingo, and gives an unforgetable experience. Flamingo is also where you are most likely to see large flocks of vultures and the remains of the damage hurricane Wilma did to the area some years ago. You might like to consider spending the night in Homestead - a very nice community, just north of Florida City with a few accommodation options.

    Next day you could head for Naples along Timiami Trail, giving you time to stop at Big Cypress Visitor Centre, for another unique Florida experience.


  9. Default

    The park directly north of Kennedy space center is pretty neat and when I was there in Feb. was full of nesting birds and at that time a year a there is a spot to see manatees(free and close up)

    We did take a boat trip out of Everglades City once which was one of the better ones. If you, go sit in the back. The Dolphins will ride the wake maybe 5-10 feet behind the boat.

    I have stayed in Naples but I prefer to go to Sanibel, Captiva or Boca Grande Islands(more old world FL) to stay. Siesta Key Beach is also a great place to stay south of Tampa. Clearwater all the way down to the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete area is nice with a wide range of places to stay.

    The 7 days should be doable, just depends on what you want to see and spend time at. Traffic is heavy on both coasts on the interstates near the cities and 41 on the west coast is filled with traffic lights and traffic in the cities.

    Use a lot of sun screen and drink plenty of water. It is typical to have a storm around 1-4 in the afternoon for a short time in the summer.

  10. Default

    If you have a Costco membership try to book your rental car through them. If it is just two of you try to get an upgrade to a convertible. Use "this is our first time to the US and road trip" and ask nicely. One time, the guy at the counter was going to do a no cost upgrade to a C63 for me but the manager took the car home for the night.

    Make sure you fill up before heading to the Keys since gas is usually more expensive on the islands. The closet gas stations to the airport and interstate exists sometimes have higher prices 5-10 cents a gallon. Download a app for gas prices. Almost all of the interstate exits have food and gas in south FL.

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