Practical

Information

A little local know-how goes a long way in Florida. Here you will find all the essential advice and information you will need during your stay.

Personal Security

As in any city, there are parts of Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, and other Florida towns that may not be especially tourist-friendly. Visitors should be alert in all urban areas, but anyone who takes precautions should enjoy a trouble-free trip. Plan your routes in advance, look at maps discreetly, walk with confidence, and avoid deserted areas at night. If you need directions, ask hotel or shop staff, or the police.

If you have anything stolen, report the crime as soon as possible to the nearest police station. Get a copy of the crime report in order to claim on your insurance. Most credit card companies have toll-free numbers for reporting a loss, as do Thomas Cook and American Express for lost cash cards.

Contact your embassy or consulate if you have your passport stolen, or in the event of a serious crime or accident.

Health

Healthcare in the US is high quality but costly. Ensure you have full medical cover prior to your visit, and keep receipts to claim on your insurance if needed.

Hospitals accept the majority of credit cards, as do most doctors and dentists. Those without insurance may need to pay in advance.

Anyone on prescribed medication should take a supply with them and ask their doctor to provide a copy of the prescription in case of loss, or the need for more.

Large cities as well as some smaller towns may have 24-hour walk-in medical and dental clinics, where minor ailments can be treated. For less serious complaints, many drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS (some of which stay open late or for 24 hours) have registered clinics.

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs

Florida has a partial smoking ban, with lighting up prohibited in most enclosed spaces and on public transportation. Users of e-cigarettes follow the same rules.

You must be over 21 to buy and drink alcohol, and to buy tobacco products. It is advisable to carry valid ID at all times, as you will not be permitted to enter bars or order alcoholic beverages in restaurants without ID.

The possession of narcotics is strictly prohibited and could result in prosecution and a prison sentence.

Local Customs

In general, most cities and towns in Florida are very laid-back, and causal clothing such as jeans, T-shirts, and trainers is quite acceptable for all but the most upscale restaurants and nightclubs.

Visiting Churches and Cathedrals

Always dress respectfully when visiting places of worship: cover your torso and upper arms. Ensure shorts and skirts cover your knees.

Cell Phones and Wi-Fi

The main US network providers are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, and Verizon. Most of these offer prepaid, pay-as-you-go phones and US SIM cards, starting at around $30 (plus tax), which you can purchase upon arrival. Inexpensive cell phones can also be purchased at supermarkets, convenience stores (such as 7-Eleven), and big-box electronic and discount department stores, including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Triband or multiband cell phones from around the world should work in the US, but your service provider may have to unlock international roaming. It is worth checking this with your provider before you set off.

Calls within the US are cheap, but making international calls may be pricey.

Free Wi-Fi is ubiquitous in hotels and just about everywhere else. Cafes and restaurants are often happy to permit the use of their Wi-Fi if you make a purchase.

Taxes and Tipping

Sales tax in Florida is 6 percent.

Tipping is an important custom in Florida, as in the rest of the US. Anyone who provides a service expects to receive a “gratuity,” and this needs to be calculated in the price of things like meals and taxi journeys.

Post

Post office opening hours vary but are usually 9am to 5pm on weekdays, with some offices opening on Saturday mornings. There are 24-hour Automated Postal Centers inside post office lobbies, which dispense stamps and postage for larger packages. Drugstores, supermarkets, and hotels often sell stamps, but may charge more than the post office.

Private courier services, such as UPS and Federal Express, can be used for both domestic and international mail, while DHL is for overseas packages; they can offer next-day delivery to most places, but the service is expensive.

Many stores can mail purchases home for you; mailing a parcel yourself involves the use of approved materials available from post offices.

Need to know Getting Around

At a Glance

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Need to know Practical Information

Time zone

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EST (Eastern Standard Time - except for Panhandle - CST - Central Standard Time).

Tap water

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Unless otherwise stated, tap water in Florida is safe to drink.

Tipping

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Need to know Practical Information

WEBSITES AND APPS

www.visitflorida.com

Florida’s national tourist board

www.nhc.noaa.gov

National Hurricane Center

www.aaa.com

American Automobile Association

www.amtrak.com

The US rail network

www.greyhound.com

America’s national bus network

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