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Travel Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Florida

Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.  Beaches, amusements parks, seafood restaurants, great weather – the sunshine state has a lot to offer, yet it’s different than many other destinations, there are many travel mistakes to avoid in Florida.  If you want to steer clear of common travel mistakes that many tourists make, read on.  This article will help you avoid those pitfalls and help you visit Florida like a seasoned veteran.

Not Understanding the Florida Weather

A 70% chance of rain does not mean it will rain all day.  Floridians respect the weather, but work around the rain showers and continue on with their day.  In the summer, it will likely rain every day, but not all day.  Most of the time, there will be an afternoon thunderstorm and the rest of the day will be sunny.  Don’t let that chance of rain stop you from going to the beach or visiting an attraction.  That being said, when you hear thunder, get indoors.  Lightning is a serious matter.

From June to the end of November, it’s hurricane season.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Florida in those months, but it’s a good idea to watch the tropics and make sure there aren’t weather systems brewing that might affect areas of Florida where you will be visiting.  Forecasters are getting better at predicting where landfall might happen with these storms, but they can still be erratic at times, so use common sense when deciding if you should delay your trip or not.

Also, keep in mind, that while most of Florida stays warm or mild all year long, it can still get cold in the wintertime.  Don’t just pack all bathing suits and flip-flops in January, add this to your list of this of travel mistakes to avoid in Florida.  Even if the temperatures are mild during the day, the nights may be downright cold.  Siesta Key has its share of sweater weather.

Only Visiting the Beaches in Florida

Florida has 825 miles of coastline and contains some of the best beaches in the world.  Yes, the beaches are a major reason why visitors come to Florida, but there are so many things to do and see in Florida that don’t require you to get sand inside your bathing suit.  Of course, Florida is also famous for its theme parks, but there are many things to see and do besides the bigger attractions.  From amazing shopping opportunities and great restaurants to great day trips from Siesta Key to unique and unusual things to do around Sarasota, Florida has plenty to offer.  Plan to spend at least a few days to check out some other things that Florida has to offer.

Missing out on Sunrises/Sunsets

Because much of Florida is peninsular in shape, you can catch some spectacular sunrises on the east coast of Florida and some amazing sunsets on the west coast of Florida.  The sky can turn a variety of dazzling colors as the sun rises or dips over the water.  For many, it’s an exalting moment they’re glad they waited for.

Feeding the Seagulls

For many local Floridians, this one is unforgivable.  While these birds may seem harmless enough at the beach, once food is offered, they become quite aggressive.  Within a few seconds, they and a few hundred of their closest friends will surround you and everyone else within earshot.  Trust us; the scene turns into a madhouse quickly, with bird droppings an inevitable result.  They will also hound you for the rest of your time at the beach.  If you want to avoid the stink eye from every other beachgoer, avoid offering any food whatsoever to seagulls.

Not Trying the Local Cuisine

Florida has so much to offer, yet there are more than a few that live on McDonald’s hamburgers and Wendy’s chicken sandwiches when they come down to Florida.  Be adventurous and try some alligator bites, a grouper sandwich or some conch fritters.  You can also get a real Cuban sandwich in Tampa, where it was created.  For dessert, don’t forget to try a slice of key lime pie!

Not Checking Out Florida’s Natural Surroundings

Florida’s natural environment is different than anywhere on the planet.  Here, you can easily see alligators and manatees in the wild.  Take a boat ride in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean and you can see dolphins playing.  You can also see wild flora and fauna through a glass-bottom boat at Silver Springs.  There are many springs, lakes, rivers, and wildernesses to explore and see a completely different side of Florida.  Plus, it’s usually a lot cheaper, and often way more satisfying, than the crowded theme parks.

Forgetting Sunscreen and Insect Repellent

Because Florida is closer to the equator than most other parts of the United States, the sun’s rays are powerful, even on cloudy days.  A sunburn is no joke and can quickly ruin your entire vacation.  Always wear sunscreen, even if it is a cloudy or overcast day, this is another one of those travel mistakes to avoid in Florida.  If you will be in and around the water, make sure it is reef-safe sunscreen.  Thousands of tons of sunscreen end up in the world’s coral reefs per year, causing irreparable damage. 

In addition to the glaring sun, insects are seemingly everywhere in Florida, so packing insect repellent is a wise choice.  Mosquitoes are always present in the swamps and everywhere else after dusk.  There are also tiny flying insects called noseeums that are hard to detect until you feel their painful bite.  Fire ants are also ever-present in fields and lawns.

Florida has so much to offer.  There is literally something for everyone here.  It is one of the best places you will ever visit, as long as you avoid these common mistakes.  Now, armed with this information, come on down and have the time of your life!

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