Florida is a year-round destination that offers something for everyone, with great weather to boot. What you’ll need to take depends on whether you’re flying or driving down and what you’re planning to do once you get there. However, there are some basics that will come in handy no matter what type of Florida vacation you have in store.
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1. Passport and Other Travel Documents
You’ll need a valid passport to enter the United States. Because laws are subject to change, it’s best to check with the nearest US embassy and to make sure you have checked everything on the list of things you need to do before you travel. This is especially important if travelling with children.
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2. International Driving Permit
You don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in Florida itself, but if you’re driving down from Canada it can make things easier if you have a Quebec licence in French. It’s a good idea to have a valid IDP just in case since laws change all the time. Florida also has some weird traffic laws.
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Many medications are much more expensive in the United States than they are in Canada. Bring your own prescription medication – and the prescription, just in case – from home but check with the US embassy first that your meds are legal in the United States.
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4. Bug Spray
If you’re going hiking or want to visit the Everglades, you’ll definitely need some bug spray to keep pesky and disease-causing critters at bay. It’s one of the things you can do to avoid Lyme disease, which is prevalent in Florida. The state has also seen cases of Zika.
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Finding that perfect swimsuit that flatters your body takes time, so don’t wait until you get to Florida to go shopping, since this will give you less beach time. Pack at least one swimsuit and leave Florida swimsuit shopping for days when you want to avoid the sun.
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Whether you’re going to spend your days on the golf course, on the beach or at a theme park, you’ll need protection from the Florida sun. Of course sunscreen is readily available pretty much everywhere but you might want to take your own, especially if you prefer one of the great natural products available in Canada.
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7. Comfortable Shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must when you’re travelling and in outdoorsy Florida you’ll definitely want footwear that will go easy on your feet. Sandals that are trendy are a good idea, since you can typically dress them up or down.
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Flip-flops are indispensable for a Florida trip, whether you’ll be shelling on the secret beach gem of Caladesi Island or just need some shoes that you can quickly slip on for a trip to the ice machine at your accommodation. Choose a pair with good tread so you won’t slip when you’re poolside.
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A sarong is a travel essential that you can use as a beach cover-up, as a skirt, as a lightweight towel and even as a shawl on cool nights. Add a few safety pins and you’d be amazed at how many outfits you can base on a rectangle of cloth.
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10. Summer Dress
Take a simple summer dress that you can wear during the day and turn into something more formal with a few accessories. If you choose it with care, you’ll have a summer dress that will serve you well into the fall.
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11. Mix-and-Match Shorts and Tops
In the warm Florida climate, you’ll want to live in comfortable shorts and tops. Take some tank tops or T-shirts but also a dressier tunic top for nights out. If you pack mix-and-match items, you’ll have a great variety of outfits for the duration of your vacation.
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Protect your eyes from the sun and look like a celebrity with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Cool sunglasses are one of the many travel items you can buy at the dollar store, so you won’t have to worry about ruining them on the beach or at the poolside.
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A pair of leggings is great for wearing on the plane and for sleeping in. You can also dress them up with a tunic top for a night on the town.
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14. Sweater or Jacket
Winter nights in Florida can be chilly, while summers see rainy days where temperatures may drop too. You’re unlikely to need a thick coat but a sweater or jacket, like a denim jacket – one of the best fashion trends that started in Canada – will help keep you warm.
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15. Cargo Pants
At most theme parks, you’ll be required to leave your bags with the operators before you go on the rides. Cargo pants are not only comfortable but their many pockets solve the problem of where to put your cash, phone and other essentials.
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16. Lightweight Bag
A lightweight bag makes a perfect day pack. Look for one that folds up so it won’t take up too much space in your luggage, and you’ll have a bag for the beach, the mall and for theme parks.
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17. Light Scarf or Bandana
A scarf or bandana is handy for wiping off sweat. An old surfer trick that’s perfect for hot and humid Florida is to tie a wet bandana around your neck to keep you cool. Besides, the humidity can wreak havoc on your locks and you might want a simple solution for bad hair days. Check out these beauty hacks for travel too.
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18. A Hat
A hat is another great solution for days when your hair won’t play along. Get one with a wide brim to keep the sun off your face and neck while you’re standing in line at the theme park. And check out these tips for surviving your first Disney vacation.
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19. Chargers for Your Gadgets
When you pack your electronic gadgets such as your phone and your e-reader, remember to pack their chargers too. A brilliant packing hack is to put them in your shoes in your luggage.
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20. Unlocked Phone
Whenever you travel to a different country, it’s a good idea to get an unlocked phone so you won’t have to spend half your vacation budget on roaming charges. Alternatively, you can simply unplug and make your vacation feel longer.