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   Car Hire:

A bit like insurance, this isn't an area to try and economise. After a 10 hour flight you just want to collect your car and go, so by far the easiest is to go with an operator who has vehicles at the airport (some don't and you have to catch a bus to their depot to collect your car).  

We'd also recommend that you pay for the "all inclusive" option when you make your booking. Yes I know that they charge $2 a gallon for petrol when you could buy it at a gas station for $1.70 but when the day is done, it's still less than half the price you'd pay back home, and do you really want the hassle.  

Many of the Fly/Drive packages will only give you basic cover, and upon arrival you'll find there are many "optional extras" like Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) which you really can't do without. Having everything booked up front not only saves any costly surprises, but it avoids being pressured by the staff when you call to collect your car. If you want anyone under 25 to drive, you need to declare it and pay a premium, but be aware that none of the hire companies are likely to agree to a driver under 21 years of age.

Once you've claimed your luggage and cleared customs, simply follow the hoards to the car rental desks. Here you'll need to present your car hire voucher and driving licenses of everyone who will be driving the vehicle. If you have one of the new UK Photo Driving Licenses, you MUST also take the paper one which comes with it.  

The staff will then hand you another piece of paper and direct you to the car park where you can collect your keys. If you aren't sure where you are going, ask for a free map which will at least give you enough directions to find the community (housing estate) where you are staying. It's worth spending a few minutes studying this before you start to drive, having a mental picture of where you are heading will reduce the stress and alleviate the arguments caused by a partner who can't read a map.    

All the cars are automatic, have air conditioning and are generally to a higher specification than we get in this country, with cruise control and even DVD players to keep the kids happy on long journeys. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the controls as they are sometimes different from what you'd expect (We once had a Mini van where the release for the parking brake was in the same position where we would have our bonnet release catch!    

Once you're happy, call for silence in the car so the driver can concentrate, and you're off!    

See the Maps & Driving section for more information on driving in Florida, including links to a site which will show you (in pictures) every stage of your journey from the airport car park to the area you are staying.  

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