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Florida is a visitor’s paradise and a car hire is the perfect way to explore it all. From palm-fringed coves to wild waterways, the sunshine state is a land of enchantments. Whether you are seeking the candy-coated theme park fantasies of Orlando, the buzzing beaches and nightlife of Miami, or the timeless beauty of the Everglades, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
You can find very flexible car hire in Florida; for instance, for an extra charge you can often pick up and drop off your car at different locations. This makes it so much easier to explore this dazzling destination and sample the huge variety of east coast charms on offer.
If you are hiring a car in Florida, then you can collect it at a number of major airports. These include Orlando International Airport,Miami International Airport and Tampa Airport. Most major brands have outlets at these airports and are usually open 24 hours.
To hire a car in Florida, you have to be 21 or above with a valid driver’s licence and passport. You do not need an international driving permit. However, bear in mind that if you are under 25 you will have to pay a young driver’s surcharge, which can be around $20 to $25 (approx. £15 to £20) per day. There is no maximum age for driving in Florida, provided that you have a licence.
Also, some car rental providers don’t require you to have held your driving licence for a minimum amount of time, although it’s best to double check this as rules can change. Most car hire companies do require you to have a credit card, although a few will allow cash rentals. Some will also ask for a deposit.
When renting a car in Florida, it is best to do so in advance of your trip. This is because queues can often be long at car hire outlets and the last thing you want, after a lengthy flight, is to have to wait. Also, bear in mind that booking in advance often gives you access to cheaper deals.
It is very important to make sure that your car has air conditioning, as temperatures in Florida can sometimes reach higher than 30°C in the summer. Also, test the air-con unit to ensure that it is working before taking to the road. It is worth checking that satnav is included too.
When booking your rental car, check your quote very carefully to see what is included. Some car hires don’t include unlimited mileage, local taxes or insurance, so it is best to check the finer details before signing on the dotted line.
Remember that if you book through Expedia, then you can enjoy a number or perks, including Expedia Rewards, Nectar card points and free cancellation up to six hours before pick-up.
There are a number of major car hire brands available in Florida, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise by Alamo, Europcar, Hertz, Keddy by Europcar, Sixt, Dollar, National and Thrifty. This means that you don’t have to accept the first quote that you are given – you can shop around for the best deal.
The US is right-hand drive and remember to keep an eye on your mirror, as drivers don’t always indicate a direction change.
Florida has many wide roads, giving you plenty of space to manoeuvre. The speed limit is usually 55mph, although it can rise to 70mph on some rural interstate highways.
Bear in mind that various roads have tolls and some are unmanned, so make sure that you always have loose change (toll charges tend to range from 50C to $2). When it is raining, you must turn on your headlights by law, including during the day. There can be very strict penalties for visibly carrying alcohol in your car, so make sure that it is stored in the boot. Some cities in Florida have replaced traditional coin-op parking meters with smart meters, meaning you can book a space in advance.
Every state has different driving laws, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the Florida ones before your visit.
From glitzy cities to wild wetlands to pristine beaches, Florida offers an abundance of experiences. Hire a car at Orlando Airport and enter into a world of adventure at theme parks such as Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Epcot, Kennedy Space Center, Legoland Florida and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Or head outside the city for a swamp tour, sky diving or kayaking.
Around a 3.5 hour drive from Orlando, you will find the gleaming Art Deco paradise of Miami. There you can immerse yourself in world-class strips of sand such as South Beach, fascinating art galleries like the Pérez, and a dizzying array of global dining options, including fabulous Cuban cuisine.
After the buzz of Miami, you may want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in Florida’s natural beauty. Luckily, just a 40-minute drive from the city is the 1.5 million-acre Everglades wetland, an unspoilt national park that is almost prehistoric in its beauty. You can drive there via the FL-836 W and US-41 W toll route.
Alternatively, you could head to the coral reefs of Key West, a 3.5 hour drive from Miami via the epic Overseas Highway route. This 113-mile chain of limestone and coral islands is connected by 42 bridges, one of them a jaw-dropping seven miles long. In short, the route is a reason in itself to rent a car in Florida.
Or, for gentler charms, take a trip to the wildflower-filled Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, three hours from Miami via the Florida Turnpike and FL-710 W toll route. Whichever side of the sunshine state that you choose to experience, a rental car is the best way by far to get around.
We hope you have found this car hire overview useful. Also make sure to check out our guide to holidays in Florida.