The Sunshine State seemingly has everything you need for a family getaway, from thrill-seeking theme parks and jaw-dropping entertainment to beautiful coastlines and an abundance of natural landmarks.
With flights heading out to Florida every day from the UK, it makes perfect sense that you might want to take a trip to the popular state. To ensure you and your children have a superb time from start to finish, find out how to plan an unforgettable family trip to Florida.
Avoid Peak Periods
Most families often plan to visit Florida during the school summer holidays, but this can be a peak travel period. If possible, try to avoid summertime, which can lead to long queues at theme parks and booked out restaurants.
January could be a perfect time to visit, as the sun will still be shining and there will be less hustle and bustle. It is also wise to avoid various US public holidays, which are likely to be very busy.
Choose the Best Destination
Florida is full to the brim with many beautiful, exciting destinations to choose from, such as Orlando, Tampa Bay and Miami.
If your children have their hearts set on meeting Mickey Mouse, Orlando will provide the perfect base to head to the likes of Walt Disney World Resort, Magic Kingdom Park and Universal Orlando Resort.
However, if sun, sea and sand sounds ideal, Tampa Bay could be perfect and the whole clan could enjoy a trip to many family-friendly attractions, such as Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park, to name just a few.
Understand US Entry Requirements
Every UK citizen will need a passport to enter the US. If you and your children each have an e-passport that features an electronic chip, you can enter the country with a Visa Waiver Programme, which will allow you to stay in the United States for no more than 90 days.
The US Customs and Border Patrol also recommends tourists complete the online pre-registration form on the ESTA website at least 72 hours before travel.
You’ll need to input the following passenger information in advance for both you and your children:
- Passport details
- Country of residence
- The address of your first night’s accommodation
Find the Perfect Accommodation
Many people instantly start looking at different hotels when travelling to Florida with children. However, you shouldn’t overlook villas in Florida, which could provide your family with more space and privacy during your time in the Sunshine State. Plus, you’ll have a luxurious, quiet place to relax and unwind after a busy day at a theme park, zoo or aquarium.
When to Fly
Flights with young children can be difficult. As Florida is five hours behind the UK, and it takes less than nine hours to reach the Sunshine State, you’ll need to factor in both your flight and arrival time.
If you have chosen an early morning flight, it might be a smart idea to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before. This can reduce stress before making your way to the check-in, as your luggage will be packed, your clothes will be ready and won’t need to embark on a stressful rush to the airport.
Hire a Car
If you want to travel from one attraction to the next with ease, consider hiring a car. However, to do so, you will need your:
- Driving license
- Credit card
The minimum age for car hire in Florida is 21 and you’ll need to book in advance to secure a vehicle for the length of your trip. You also should learn more about the state’s speed limits and safety laws. For example, all children under the age of 4 will need to sit in a car seat.
Jetlag can ruin a holiday. Prevent both you and your children from feeling lethargic by drinking plenty of water during a flight to avoid dehydration, which can make it difficult to beat jetlag.
Other ways to avoid jetlag can include:
- Enjoying a good night’s sleep the night before
- Choosing a flight that arrives in daylight
- Skipping caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc.)
- Stretching and walking around the cabin
- Changing your sleep schedule to your new time zone
Pack Light & Comfortable Clothing
As Florida can be hot, especially during summer, you should pack light clothing and comfortable shoes for both you and your family. You also would be smart to add the following into your suitcase:
- Sun cream
- Bug repellent
- Travel sickness remedies
It will ensure the whole family will have an enjoyable, comfortable time, which will be free from sunburn, heatstroke and bug bites.
Plan an Itinerary
It’s likely different family members will want to embark on different activities once they arrive in Florida. For example, your youngest might be eager to visit Walt Disney World Resort, while your teenager might want to head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
It’s therefore important to sit down with your children prior to the trip to plan an itinerary that suits everyone. This will ensure every family member gets to tick various activities off their bucket list, so each has an unforgettable time.
Book a Character Dining Experience
If your children dream of meeting Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella or Snow White, you’ll be happy to know you can book a character dining experience 180 days in advance at:
- Chef Mickeys
- The Garden Grill at Epcot
- Tucker House at Animal Kingdom
It is, however, important to note that character dining experiences are very popular, so book a table as soon as possible to avoid disappointing your son or daughter.
While Florida can provide family members of all ages with an unforgettable holiday, a lack of research and forward-planning could potentially ruin your trip. That’s why you must follow the above top tips to ensure you can provide your kids with a getaway they will be talking about in many years to come.