Florida is synonymous with its status as a tourist hub, and why not?
Between some of the country most beautiful beaches, world-renowned attractions and a balmy climate to attract those looking to beat the cold, there’s a reason why the Sunshine State scored over 115 million tourist visitors in 2016 alone.
However, the tourist-centric culture of Florida tends to create some unsuspected issues for would-be vacationers and those who want to see everything that the state has to offer.
After all, there endless “must-do” guides to experiencing Florida and no shortage of suggestions; however, many of these essentials overlook the state’s hidden gems. Furthermore, many guides to seeing Florida right neglect the issue of budget, something that can quickly get eaten alive in the face of typical tourist trap attractions.
If you’re thinking about Florida as a travel destination, your mind is in the right place! But allow us to break down a few key travel tips to consider first.
Rethink Your Lodging Options
No matter how you slice it, the bulk of any given vacation budget is going to be spent on lodging. While there are indeed plenty of incredible resorts in the state, even those offering bare-bones amenities tend to cost a pretty penny if they’re near any downtown district or beachfront.
As such, tourists looking to keep more money in their pockets while still staying in close proximity to hotspots should consider finding awesome RV rentals throughout Florida that allow them the best of both worlds. There are campgrounds within walking distance of the beach throughout the Florida Panhandle. Meanwhile, even Disney World has its fair share of nearby camping spots that are a mere Uber or shuttle away.
Similarly, staying off the beat and path can save you money. Want to visit the Panhandle? Try Mexico Beach instead of Panama City Beach. Same rules apply to staying in Kissimmee rather than Orlando or Lake Buena Vista for the theme park scene. And if you want a beautiful budget vacation that’s quieter, give St. Augustine or Jacksonville Beach a try.
Forego the Theme Park Adventure
On a related note, don’t just equate a family Florida vacation to the likes of Disney World, Universal or Busch Gardens. Sure, those places are a blast; however, they aren’t the be-all, end-all of what the state has to offer. Between the sky-high prices of park tickets and on-property lodging, the old-school theme park trip is becoming a relic of the past for many tourists.
Don’t let your family be disappointed if you can’t hang out with Mickey Mouse, though. There’s still plenty to do!
Find Free Things to Do Instead
Speaking of attractions, arguably the most fun tourist activities don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to pay a premium to enjoy most of Florida’s beaches, especially if you’re staying near the Gulf Coast.
While you may need to pay for parking if you’re staying near Central Florida (think: New Smyrna or Cocoa), you’re spending next to nothing to enjoy some breathtaking scenery: that’s quite the bargain.
Piers, parks and nature trails and also plenty throughout the state. Although you should block out some time for traditional attractions, don’t neglect how much fun freebies can be.
Florida certainly attracts its fair share of visitors, especially in places like Miami and Florida, but having a good time in the Sunshine State means careful planning for maximum fun. By sticking to these tips, you can do exactly that with your budget intact.