Rental Car Tips from our Florida Roadtrip

Our flight arrived slightly behind schedule on Friday night, around 9:30 p.m. We flew into Jacksonville and planned to spend Friday night at Mr. Vine’s parents’ home in St. Augustine. I had a rougher flight than usual. It had been a long day for both of us by the time we landed. It took about thirty minutes or so to pick up our rental car. For some reason it seemed like every passenger arriving that evening had rented from Enterprise.

We were offered our choice of upgrades for $10 per day. We had the rental booked for nine days and knew we had a lot of driving ahead of us. We contemplated upgrading to a convertible or a luxury vehicle. In the end, we declined the upgrade and selected a Hyundai Elantra. Whenever we have the chance to choose our own vehicle, we look for a couple of things. Assuming that all vehicles are roughly the same, try to find the newest or lowest mileage vehicle in your class. Mr. Vine wisely opts for vehicles with Apple CarPlay. This makes it easy to play music or navigate with our iPhones. The Elantra we selected had only 3,000 miles on it, still had stickers on its wheels and plastic on the seatbelts in the back seats. It also had CarPlay. Although not a luxury car, the Elantra was totally serviceable. We were happy with it and the fact that we saved $100 over the course of our rental.

Our drive to Mr. Vine’s parents’ home was a little under an hour and uneventful. Early in the planning process, we’d talked about stopping by a diner for dinner on the way. At the time, even though we were slightly hungry, we were tired and travel weary. We briefly caught up with Mr. Vine’s brother before turning in for the night. We planned an early departure for Orlando the next morning. 

In the morning, I went for a short run around the subdivision. It was such a joy to run outside in shorts and t-shirt! Mr. Vine and I then packed up and began the more familiar parts of our drive. We were able to borrow a toll pass transponder from Mr. Vine’s family. That saved us time and money as we used it extensively throughout the week. 

We made it right on time to Disney Springs where we met up with my friend and her spouse. We shopped around a bit and purchased a few items before heading to brunch at Morimoto’s Asia. Mr. Vine and I shared soft shell crab bao, ribs and a bowl of duck ramen. Delicious! After a couple of trips to Japan and my own culinary pursuits, I can be very picky about Asian cuisine. Morimoto’s surpassed my expectations. The ribs in particular are a house specialty and we highly recommend them! Then, it was time to hit the road for Miami. 

We’ve made the drive from Orlando to Miami at least half a dozen times before. The best way to travel is via the turnpike, which is uninteresting but also light on traffic. Every time I make the drive, it gets tiring around the West Palm Beach area. That’s also where traffic tends to pick up as well. We stopped for gas at a service plaza around this point, ate some of the leftover airplane snacks and powered through the remainder of the drive. 

After checking in at our resort, we took the car for one more outing for the day to stock up on groceries. We found the car worthwhile and used it almost every day. We made excursions off the Miami Beach island to visit downtown Miami a couple of times and to visit Zoo Miami. Stay tuned for more on those activities in a future post.

The following Saturday, it was time to once again return north. Because we weren’t stopping in central Florida this time, we headed up I-95. In the planning stage, we talked about stopping at some of the beach towns on the Atlantic coast. We’ve been to some of these, like Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Palm Beach. But others, like Melbourne and Cocoa Beach would be new to us. 

The weather was not very cooperative–it was a gloomy day by Florida standards and it rained occasionally. Mr. Vine was also eager to get to St. Augustine to spend some time with his family. We also had a couple of errands and I needed to complete my daily run. Rather than a leisurely road trip with stops, we power drove and arrived about four hours later. 

I am often amused because Mr. Vine and I enjoy road tripping, but I always feel like we do it “wrong.” Road trips are supposed to include detours and discoveries. But we so often get caught up in the driving and skip the stops (as we did this time).

Do you like taking road trips? Are you fond of making lots of stops along the way? Or do you, like us, prefer to make good time without any detours? Are there factors that influence you one way or another?  

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