There are few images more iconic to the United States than the open highway. From Route 66 to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the idea of the Great American Roadtrip is firmly planted in the popular consciousness – and there are few better places to enjoy this quintessential travel experience than the state of Florida. So if you dream of cruising through Sunshine State (ideally with the wind in your hair and Born to be Wild playing at full volume) then read on; our 5 IDEAL ways to plan a road trip through Florida.
BOOKEND YOUR TRIP
As a highly-sought after travel destination, accommodation in Florida can be on the expensive side, and that’s putting it bluntly. Rather than letting costs run away with you throughout your trip, it can be a great idea to bookend the start and end of your journey with something a little bit special – before choosing more rustic accommodation as you travel. That way, you settle in smoothly to the new timezone, climate and culture, and at the tail end, you can rest your weary bones after time spent on the road.
Consider beginning your road trip soaking up the sun on white-sand beaches in Destin, or end it by enjoying some theme park thrills with a villa near Disney World, Orlando – whatever you choose, by bookending your trip with some high-end indulgence, you can add a luxury element (and those all important Instagram snaps that come with it) without breaking the bank.
SET A ROUGH DAILY BUDGET
According to The Broke Backpacker, the average daily costs of a roadtrip in Florida will include:
- Camping: $5-$20
- Hostel: $25-$35
- Rental car: $30-$100
- RV rental: $100-$300
- Gallon of gas: $2.85
Add in food costs (and perhaps the occasional drink or two; you’re only human) and you’re looking at around $150-$200 a day, at the least. To avoid getting caught out, have at least a rough plan as to where you’ll be staying every night, and determine a general food budget. Even if you decide to push the boat out at a restaurant one night and make up for it with some instant noodles the next day, knowing what your costs will be in advance really is helpful, and allows you to make the best choices along the way.
CONSIDER AN RV
Although generally more expensive, renting an RV can be a good option due to the freedom it grants – taking away the pressure to be at a certain location at a certain time. If it includes a kitchenette, you’ll also save money on eating out, and many even come with tiny but usable showers. And that’s all you need on the road, right?
Do bear in mind that an RV road trip can be expensive if you’re staying in an RV park every night (providing electricity, water etc.), so be sure to check out the numerous dispersed camping sites throughout Florida. These sites are typically free, but may not provide all the amenities of a paid campsite. WikiCamps is a great app that highlights all the paid and free camping options throughout the U.S so have it downloaded and readied on your phone before you hit the road.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE, BUT LEAVE ROOM FOR FLEXIBILITY
Florida, while far from the largest US state (that honour goes to Alaska) is enormous. Pensacola in the north to Key West at Florida’s southernmost tip is a 12 hour and 40 minute drive – presuming you neither stop for food or hit any traffic. Which you will. If you have two to three weeks on your hands, it’s possible to explore the entire coast (and a bit extra) at an enjoyable pace, but with so much to see and do, you may prefer to focus your route on a particular region or road.
If you are one of life’s daredevils, simply hiring a vehicle and going where the wind takes you might have some appeal. However, for most people it’s highly advisable to plan your route in advance – with knowledge of the roads, travel times and must-see destinations plotted out beforehand. Bear in mind that Florida is scattered with toll roads, and some don’t accept cash. There’s a full guide on the Visit Florida website, and the option to prepay with a SunPass, which removes a certain amount of stress.
TRAVEL TO A THEME
The different areas of Florida vary immensely in landscape, atmosphere and culture. For example, the northern region has a lot of classic Southern charm (with its connection to Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi), while Miami feels more modern, multicultural and ideal for a good party. Within the space of a few hours’ drive, you can also find yourself going from swampy wilderness to island paradise.
While you may want to take in everything you have time for, with so much variety on offer, it can be helpful to travel to a theme. There is plenty of outdoor adventure to be had if you want to hop between state parks and natural wonders, or you can follow the AIA across the Atlantic coast to check out all the best surfing beaches. You can even go from city to city if you are more interested in culture and history, and of course, partying, or you do an epic theme park tour – the options really are endless. Keep some focus, and the Sunshine State will treat you kindly in return.
This post was written by travel professionals and Florida fans Top Villas, who offer Florida vacation villas to travellers and holidaymakers.