pancakelizard

Florida tips’n’tricks

Posted on August 29, 2012

Having been on holiday to florida for 4 of the last 5 years, i figured it was time i started collecting a bunch of tips, links and other useful stuff in one place. This is that new home. I will start dumping my notes into various blog posts over the coming weeks (I'm going back there in 30 days 20h 17m 23s!) - I will probably end up doing a trip report or two as we are there too...

Firstly, some essential links and info:

http://www.tripit.com - any self-respecting geek needs a decent organiser, and for me, tripit is by far the best. there are apps available for most major smartphones/tablets and keeping all your travel info in one place (your phone) for emergency purposes. yes, youll still need printouts of any tickets and things, but the bulk of it can be stored in tripit. if you have a booking, just forward it to plans@tripit.com and it will automatically insert it into your itinerary. I've also found that opening notes with a date of after you get home, it can be a useful repository for links, tips and other info. sort of what i'm doing here right now. in fact the bulk of these posts on pancakelizard will be taken from notes i've made over the years and stored in tripit!

http://www.thedibb.co.uk - thedibb is a place inhabited by people considerably more obsessed with florida than myself. the forums are an invaluable source of information and tips. again, a lot of content I'll be posting is the result of posts from there. I spend a lot of time on there, and i get frustrated with the place in several ways. there are people dead set on doing things a certain way, and wont hear of any different suggestions. there are also quite a lot of what i term "flight nazis" - people who will ONLY travel BA/virgin, and ONLY in premium economy or better. they tend to slag off the cheaper efforts (monarch in particular), and personally, i think they are doing it in some ways to make other people feel bad that they arent spending £5k+ a year on their family holidays, as if they are bad people, or poor or something. anyway, not wanting to get into an argument on my own blog, so ill move on!

http://www.tvfoodmaps.com/ - TV Food maps - been watching Man V Food or DDD? then this site contains info on most of the restaurants featured on these type of programs. speaking of which...

http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Man_V_Food - MAN V FOOD - the show that (for me) started it all. a ridiculous show, but with a great host, and the first half of the show where they visit random food places in the area is a fantastic way to find hidden treats if you are going away to any US state...

http://www.quidco.com - QUIDCO - you buy stuff online, you get cashback, mmkay? its that simple. over the years ive "earned" the best part of a grand through quidco. mostly by buying things i was going to buy anyway from supplier i was going to use! for things like car hire, hotel booking, travel insurance and other holiday essentials, it is good for seeing whats on offer and getting cashback on the prices if you find it to be the cheapest/what you want (in a lot of cases, you would use the supplier anyway to buy it, so you may as well get a bit of money back for doing so!)


http://www.cocooninnovations.com/product_info.php?cat_id=61&product_id=167 - GRID-IT. another geek essential! sick of all your cables, chargers and other assorted bits getting all tangled and messy bouncing around in your bag/suitcase/etc? seriously, buy one (or two! they do different sizes) of these!

http://www.kissimmee-us192.com/british/driving.htm - A British Drivers guide to Orlando - never driven there before? I was bricking it when i first went, after a terrifying experience driving in france back in the early 90s not long after passing my driving test. i needntve worried though! automatic cars coupled with a satnav and MASSIVE roads in orlando and driving is a doddle! I'll go more in depth with this at some point in the future...

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html - ESTA - visa waiver - ESSENTIAL! It costs $14 and valid for two years from application, so fill it out as late as possible to maximise validity - authorisation is usually instant, so probably best doing it a few (working) days before you travel. googling for ESTA will probably return some sort of scam site as top (paid) links... at best you will pay more than $14 for the privilege of them "processing" your forms before sending the info you posted over to the official site (and causing potential delay in the processing).. at worst you just get completely ripped off. just be aware there is only one official place for them, and that is on a .gov domain, not a .com!

MONEY:
http://www.fairfx.com/  -a consistently good exchange rate for cash and also do prepay mastercard. Been using it since 2008 without issue. Get a free prepay card saving you £10 by clicking this link instead of going via the main fairfx website

I'll elaborate further, and update this post as i go along, but also check the florida category over there>>>>>>
that way you can see any future posts i will be doing. ill add a proper headed section for this as some point.

toodles!

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