Review: renting a car in Florida

Our colleague Vivien wanted to soak up some Vitamin D during the spring in the always sunny Florida, also known as The Sunshine State. Renting a car in Florida is a different experience than renting a car in Europe. Read here why and about useful tips and tricks when renting a car in Florida.


Rental car from Tampa International Airport

I was staying with family near Tampa, so we flew in at Tampa International Airport and picked up the rental car from there. The gates are separate from the terminal with the car rental pick-up locations, so we went there by SkyConnect (the airport’s train shuttle service). This ride took just under five minutes, and everything was clearly indicated. We arrived a little later in the evening and saw that the Alamo counter was closed. We were directed to the Enterprise desk, which is also part of Alamo. At the counter we were helped by a friendly man. We showed our rental voucher, passport, and credit card in the name of the main driver and answered some questions. He asked if we wanted to pay in advance for a full tank of gas, but we chose not to. The gas prices had risen a lot and we wanted to decide for ourselves where we filled up and for what amount, to return the rental car with a full tank.


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Car insurance in the USA

We were also asked at the counter if we wanted to take out any additional insurance. We rejected this. The reason for this being that all rental cars booked through RNTaCar have all standard insurance and fees included and there is no deductible in the United States. We were able to make use of RNTaCar's No Risk Warranty, so that we were also protected against towing costs and damage to the tires of the rental car, but we did not think this was necessary.


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Toll roads

Florida has some major toll roads, especially between Orlando and Miami. You can avoid these by using the settings of your GPS, but then you often drive a longer route - which is not always ideal during your vacation. It may therefore be useful to purchase a Sunpass when you pick up the rental car. With this pass you save on toll costs, and you avoid any waiting times at the gates. The cost of the Sunpass is USD 25 per rental agreement. In addition to these fixed costs, you pay the costs of the toll roads.


Choice of car type

We had booked an Intermediate SUV and could choose between several available cars in the parking garage. Because there is no deductible in the United States, the car was not checked for any damage incurred. We had chosen a 4x4 Jeep which drove very nice. Big tip if there is a white car available: choose this one! Especially in the summer months, temperatures can get very high in Florida and the white paint will reflect the sun's rays more.


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Roads in Florida 

The roads in Florida are very easy to navigate. We drove from Tampa to the southernmost point of the United States, Key West. On the way you will drive on the famous Overseas Highway. This 250km road is part of Route 1 and runs from the beginning of the Florida Keys to its end. Tip to make sure you have a full tank of gas before driving this road. The further you drive over the Keys, the higher the gas prices. As you drive over the bridges connecting the islands, you'll see sky blue waters to the right and left of the roadway. Have a good look every now and then as I was lucky enough to spot dolphins jumping in the clear waters on two occasions!


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Returning the rental car

All in all, it is very easy driving in Florida. The roads are good, the toll roads are clearly marked, there are many large lanes and enough great pit stops along the way. Returning the car went very smoothly. We drove into the terminal with the car rental parking garage, handed over the keys, an employee did a quick check of the car and within a few minutes we already walked towards the departure hall.

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