So you have booked your flight, booked a hotel or a villa in Orlando close to all the action, now you need to get around! The prospect of driving in Florida can be quite daunting however it doesn’t need to be!
One of the first stops to make after you have retrieved your luggage is to head over to the car rental desk. You will be asked to produce your driving licence including both parts for any drivers that are listed on your rental agreement and also any documentation relating to your car rental which you will have received as confirmation upon booking from one of the suppliers online or through your package holiday provider. You will also be asked to leave your credit card details for any charges or incidentals.
It is common that you will be advised to pay upfront for fuel, meaning you can bring the car back empty, it is not obligatory but it is cheaper than paying for fuel as you go along. There may also be an opportunity to upgrade your car also if you wish however this is entirely up to you and will incur an additional cost.
So you are almost on your way to your holiday villa and you are about to experience the fantastic Florida weather for the first time as you head to collect your car. Here are a few things to bear in mind before you set off:
- You can turn right on a red light unless stated by signs.
- You MUST come to a complete stop at a STOP sign, as obvious as this may seem, a lot of people like to approach slowly without actually stopping
- Always carry your license on you at all times, if you were to get stopped by the police you will be required to show this.
- If you are stopped by the police, remain in your vehicle until the officer has come to see you, if you live in the UK, it is normal to get out of the car first, please do not do this.
- When you are filling up with fuel, you will need to go into the petrol station BEFORE you fill up, let the server know how much fuel you will be buying and then once you have paid for it you can go ahead and fill the tank up.
- Make sure to fill your car rental up before you return it, you will be charged a lot more money if they have to fill the tank than you would at a gas station.
- 70 mph on Interstates, 65 mph on a four-lane divided highway outside an urban area, and 60 mph on other state highways.
- You will most likely need a lot of quarters for the tolls or pre-purchase a Sun Pass for your duration so you do not need to worry about paying the tolls each time, it certainly prevents the stress when you run out of quarters.
- Most cars are automatic, when you first start your car, you will need to press the brake in to change from P (Park) to D (Drive).
- When you pick your car rental up, it is a good idea to use your phone to record a walk-around your rental before you set off, that way you can be assured that if they try and blame you for any scratches or marks you can show them they were before you took the rental.
- Take a photo of your car rental agreement, breakdown number you need to call in case of emergency, you will most likely keep this in the car, but if you were to lose your keys, then at least you can refer to your agreement via your phone.
- Top Tip! – If you are wanting a flash car, book the cheapest one online then when you arrive to ask if there are any ‘upgrades available’, be prepared to haggle these prices, DO NOT accept the 1st price they quote you. I have done this numerous times in the past and got a great deal.
- Make sure you read your agreement properly before you sign anything. Even if they quickly tell you what it all means, you can then be assured there are no surprises in case of an emergency.
- Do not pay for the expensive Sat Nav at the counter when you pick the car up, you can use various apps on your phone which will be a lot cheaper than paying for one of theirs, you can also rent a Sat Nav before you go, then send it back when you return.
- When you reach your villa, it is always a good idea to bookmark the location or save as ‘Home’. That way, whatever park you are in you can quickly go to your saved places and find your way home. There are so many different villa communities, you could easily lose where you are staying if you do not have a map or a sat nav handy.
- Make sure to check the Sat Nav is charging in the cigarette lighter, on our last trip to Orlando, we arrived at our villa only to see the ‘Low Battery’ light flashing, thankfully we made it back to the car rental garage in time to get a replacement.
- On a three-lane highway, you can pass (overtake) either side of a vehicle.
For more information on the rules and regulations for driving in Florida.