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Florida is one of the most popular states for tourists in the US. Its subtropical, oceanic climate makes it the perfect spot for a relaxing beach vacation. It can be a bit tricky to know just what exactly to pack for a trip to the Sunshine State. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here is the quintessential Florida packing list.
This one is no joke, which is why we put it at the top of our list. Many people have stories in their families of someone going to Florida, falling asleep on the beach and ending up with a nasty case of sun poisoning. Don’t let that be you! Even for those who are not typically prone to sunburn, pack a full bottle just to be safe. In case you forget, you can also rest assured that sunscreen will be in full supply at the various shops and drugstores near the beach. Just make sure to hit up one of them before embarking on a day at the beach.
It’s good to put something on the skin after it’s been exposed to hours of intense sunlight. Proper skin care will keep the skin looking youthful and wrinkle-free for years longer than those who take a more lax approach. Sunscreen helps filter out UV radiation, but after sun lotion is what will sooth any that does get in. The full effects of sunlight won’t show up until several minutes after you head back into the shade. Therefore, a good after sun product could be a real lifesaver. In the event that you or one of your travel companions does get a sunburn, a bottle of pure aloe is worth the spot in your suitcase.
If you plan on spending time in South Florida, particularly the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas, it’s good to brush up on some Spanish. While pocket dictionaries may be a bit archaic, a good translator app at the very least is a must. Understanding Spanish will help enrich your time in Florida by helping to navigate areas heavily populated by Cubans and other Latino groups. Indeed, Miami has several nicknames including ‘The Capital of Latin America’ and ‘The Gateway to the Americas’ that suggest the strong connection to Latin American culture present here. Knowing Spanish will allow the hungry traveler to order tasty Cuban foods with ease and the thespians in the group to explore theater and the arts in more depth.
Clothing will vary depending on the part of Florida you plan to visit and the time of year. Typically, Florida is known for its casual vibes, so it is generally unnecessary to bring up formal attire on the trip. With this being said, for those planning on exploring Miami’s nightlife scene, know that flamboyant and racy ensembles are more acceptable here than elsewhere, possibly even encouraged. If you are visiting during January or February, it’s also a good idea to bring a light sweater for cooler evenings. For destinations on coastal Florida, a bathing suit is obviously a must. Remember to pack light and with versatility to save some space to do some shopping if you fancy.
For the most part, sandals should do. When the weather is hot, giving your toes some breathing room will help your body better regulate its temp. If the itinerary includes engaging in outdoor activities, exploring the Everglades, or even spending the whole day walking around Disney World, pack a pair of comfortable, close-toed shoes. As for the nightlife, anything goes! Feel free to rock a pair of stilettos at a club on South Beach or to slip into some Birkenstocks and enjoy some Southern comfort food in Orlando.
As the Florida sun is so super hot, remember to pack a hat to protect your scalp from burning. Sunscreen doesn’t really cut it here, and the scalp is a highly sensitive area. Not to mention, the scalp can and does get burned through the hair, especially on your part and hairline. Luckily, it’s easy to turn the hat into a beachy fashion statement. Floppy styles are in right now as are bowler hats. Alternatively, a classic ball cap will do, especially for engaging in sports or fishing. A proper hat can also help protect your face from the sun, an area that tends to be more sensitive to sunscreen.
This might seem odd or a bit overly cautious, but while in Florida, there are a lot of environmental risk factors you may not encounter elsewhere. For one, the air near the coast has more salt particles in it thanks to the proximity to the ocean. More than this, sand is likely to get into places you never thought were possible after a day at the beach. Sand and salt are notorious for scratching the screens of beloved cameras, tablets, cellphones and laptops. If you have a protective waterproof case, this option is ideal, but a heavy-duty plastic bag and plenty of caution will suffice in a pinch.
Sunglasses are a hugely integral part of Florida culture. They will protect your eyes from UV rays and help the timid tourist to blend in better as a local. Whether you’re soaking in the sun on the beach, having a drink at a terrace bar, deep sea fishing off the coast, or sightseeing, sunglasses will enhance your experience by eliminating glare so squinting the entire time the sun is out isn’t necessary. Further, it’s not uncommon to stay up until the wee hours of the morning at the many clubs and bars in the more hopping parts of the state, so a set of glasses will help you transition back into the daytime.
For those who are hailing from a more temperate climate, be warned. There are a lot of large insects to be found in Florida that you may not be used to! No need to panic; most of these guys are harmless, and they come about as a product of the tropical climate, not because of dirtiness. There are some things you can do to prevent yourself from getting bitten up, though. A good can of bug repellent is wise for anyone that will be spending time outdoors in the evenings, particularly near bodies of fresh water or in nature. Citronella spray is an effective natural alternative to bug sprays, which can be heavy on the toxic chemicals.
Florida offers a unique set of fauna that goes far beyond its insect life. This marshy, semi-tropical climate is home to creatures both large and small including the infamous alligator. Other species to keep an eye out for include manatees, dolphins, Florida panthers, armadillos, sea turtles, pelicans, ospreys, eagles, snowy owls, falcons, rattlesnakes, and more. If any of these pique your interest, bringing a wildlife manual on a trip to Florida will help keep relevant information handy. It is also worth noting that there is a multitude of wildlife tours available on the coastlines and in the Everglades.
Florida is known for its torrential downpours, tropical storms, and hurricanes. Indeed, these events are not for the faint of heart. South Florida’s rainy season spans from June to October, and this is when the region receives about 70 percent of its rainfall. For those traveling to the state during these months, make sure to bring waterproof shoes or rain boots and a sturdy poncho or raincoat. Keep the raincoat light and breathable because the humidity in the air certainly doesn’t let up during the rainy season, either. Umbrellas are no match for the powerful gusts that usually accompany a rainstorm, so leave those at home.
A popular pastime off of Florida’s southern coast is snorkeling, especially around the paradisiacal Florida Keys. Here the waters are calm and nourishing to a range of different underwater species and coral reefs as well as the occasional fossil or artifact from Florida’s past. Some lucky snorkelers might even have an encounter with an adorable manatee! Unlike diving, snorkeling doesn’t require much by way of equipment except for a snorkeling mask and a set of flippers. If you own a pair, we recommend bringing them along, but most snorkeling companies have some pairs to loan, too. It’s a good idea to book your snorkeling adventure online or by phone in advance.
While this one might seem quite obvious, it’s actually really common to forget a towel intended specifically for the beach. Your hotel will probably provide towels for bathing, but no one wants to dry themselves on a sandy towel that’s just been on the beach all day. Therefore, it’s worth noting that you’ll want to account for a separate towel just for the beach and another for showering afterward. Towels make great souvenirs, and you can certainly purchase one at your destination in the event that you forget. Remember that beach towels are better if they’re a bit larger than your average bathing towel.
To conclude our list of things to pack for a trip to Florida, we want to pay special mind to considerations relevant for those coming to the United States from abroad. Be sure to bring a power adapter or two, and remember that measurements differ as standard units are used in place of the metric system in the US. Make copies of passports to avoid the nightmare that often ensues of trying to replace it at an embassy in the event that it gets lost. It’s wise to load passports and credit cards onto a system like PhotoVault for safekeeping. Lastly, keep in mind that security at US airports is notoriously tight, and all carry-on liquids must be kept in three-ounce approved containers for flying.