ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.
Florida Money-Saving Tips
Consider Budget Carriers and Secondary AirportsFlorida is a prime tourism locale, and nearly all major domestic carriers offer flights to the state, as do a bevy of smaller, budget carriers. Don't overlook low-cost carriers like JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, AirTran, Sun Country, Allegiant, and WestJet for some of the most competitively priced fares. Also consider flying into smaller regional hubs like Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Palm Beach, and others, which may turn up bargain rates as compared to the state’s most-trafficked airports in Miami and Orlando.
Rent Some WheelsExploration is tricky – not to mention expensive – without a rental car in this long, public transit-challenged state. Reserve a car for pickup upon arrival at the airport; Florida rental car rates are competitively priced, so it’s likely you’ll snag a good deal, to boot.
It's Called the Sunshine StateMost visitors from higher latitudes are unprepared for the intensity of Florida's rays. Wear high SPF, waterproof sunblock, drink lots of water, and avoid sunbathing at high noon.
Plan a Land-Sea ComboThis is the cruise-ship capital of the world, courtesy of major ports in Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa, which makes it easy to pair a Florida getaway with a trip to the Caribbean, Mexico, or South America – or even across the Atlantic.
Sleeves Come in HandyEven it the hottest months, it's a good idea to pack a lightweight sweater or jacket; restaurants and attractions often have the air-conditioning set to Arctic temps.
It's a Bug's LifeIn late spring and early fall, lovebugs swarm around north-central Florida, turning windshields into gooey messes. If you're driving your own vehicle, wash them off the car's body immediately or they'll damage the paint.
Riches from the SeaFlorida's stone crab season is October 15 to May 15, placing the large, sweetly succulent claws front-and-center on local menus. The most celebrated tasting venue? Joe's Stone Crab in Miami (www.joesstonecrab.com).
Batter Up!Sublime March weather perfectly complements spring training for major league baseball; 15 teams shape up for the season at locations scattered throughout Florida.
Small Investment, Big ReturnBuy your own mask and snorkel if your trip is beach focused. It's more comfortable (and sanitary), saves on multiple rentals, and you'll always have it handy – there are many good snorkel spots hugging Florida's coastline.
Check Out VisitFlorida.com for Discounts and DealsVisit Florida, the official state tourism bureau, hosts a dedicated online deals page (www.visitflorida.com/deals) that features numerous hotel and attraction deals, which are updated on a regular basis. Search filters allow users to select customized deals results based on destination, attraction or activity type, and a vacation-specific theme (girlfriends’ getaway, gay and lesbian, etc.).
Cough up Those CouponsNearly every major Florida tourism destination puts out restaurant and attraction discount booklets, which are readily available in hotel and restaurant lobbies. Be sure to flip through them for offerings that cater to your tastes – the savings can be substantial, and apply to attractions, lodging, restaurants, shopping, and more. It might also be worth your efforts to search online for printable coupons ahead of your trip – many Florida attractions now offer online coupons and deal pages on their websites.
Get OutdoorsIt just doesn’t make much sense – or dollars and cents at that – to miss out on the natural bounty that the weather-blessed Sunshine State has to offer. Across the state, Florida's beauty beckons, with a multitude of preserves and state parks (usually charging nominal entrance fees) primed for exploration, not to mention hundreds of miles of sandy – and freely accessible – shoreline to choose from. From hiking to bird watching, or from swimming to people-watching, the free (or cheap) ways in which to enjoy it all are endless.
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Karen Dion Freelance Editor
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