According to Florida Governor Rick Scott, 113 million tourists visit the Sunshine State every year. At the same time, 21 million Floridians are left wondering why would anyone come to the state for leisure time. Florida and relaxation are very rarely used in the same sentence by those of us (un)fortunate enough to call the state home.
It might be something that only Floridians understand, how a state considered a holiday destination by outside observers can end up being a nerve-wracking experience for the inexperienced visitor. Then, as a public service, I would like to offer some honest advice to those readers who might be considering coming to hypothetical paradise during summer break. Consider this more of a warning than a courtesy, though.
Rule 1: Expect the weather
If at any given time you don’t like the weather in Florida, wait five minutes for it to change. Don’t bother yourself with planning a beach day during your stay here, because it will rain that day. Checking weather reports is as useful as a trap door in a boat. Instead, get on the Florida vibe of randomness and one-up the weather by randomly jumping off the Interstate on your way to Clearwater Beach. It may still rain nonetheless, but at least you get to tell Mother Nature to stick it.
Rule 2: Yes, it bites
Ground-rule for living things in Florida: if it moves, it will either bite you, sting you, or try to kill you. We’ve got the worst of the worst when it comes to deadly animals. Black widows, alligators, copperhead snakes, and angry drivers on the I-4 are some of the most fearsome creatures in this side of the country. Which, conveniently leads to the next point:
Rule 3: You can’t escape America’s longest parking lot
There are two letters that make any Floridian driver shudder, and that often catch tourists off guard. The I-4 often seems as a purgatory to cross before getting someplace better. Maybe you fancy going to any theme parks in Orlando or catching some rays in St. Pete Beach. Well, get ready for 140 miles of frustration, kamikaze drivers, seemingly endless road work, and hopeless swerving. Plus side: it will really make you appreciate your time in Disney World or any time off the road for that matter.
Rule 4: You will always be late
Think that you can avoid the traffic jam by waking up an hour early? Tough luck, ‘cause every other driver on I-4 at the 7 a.m. jam thought the same thing. Trying to skip the lines at Universal? No chance. It’s quite likely that those are actually permanent, because no matter what time you get there, you’ll have to wait 2 hours to ride Harry Potter’s Gringott’s Escape. It’s a good thing you’ll be here on your time off because you’ll need a lot of it to enjoy anything here.
Rule 5: Pictures are a must
After you’ve experienced all of the “joys” that the Sunshine state has to offer, you might be tempted to curse at the heavens for leading you to a place that left you even more tired than before your vacation began. That is, of course, until you look at the pictures you took during the trip. Nevermind how difficult it might be to live in Florida, this place does look amazing. So, in the spirit of letting your Facebook friends know how your summer was better than theirs, pack up your camera, take a proverbial (or, if needed, real) chill pill, and enjoy the sights Florida has to offer. It’ll be the one thing that won’t be ruined by the rest of the state.