Traffic and immigration in Florida

Traffic

The car is a major means of transportation in Florida. The road network is modern and very well developed. The traffic rules in Florida say that in a traffic light even at red right may be bent as soon as you have stopped and convinced yourself to be able to enter the intersection without danger. If this is not allowed on a - especially very large intersection - it is indicated by traffic signs. Do not be surprised if you are overtaken on the multi-lane highways or interstates on the right, because this is also allowed. Likewise, it often happens in Florida - especially in residential areas - that at an intersection all lanes are marked with a stop sign. The rule here is: Who first stopped at the intersection, starts first. Child seats can be rented at any car rental company. For traffic control or the police, you will be stopped in Florida only if something is wrong with your car or if you have a traffic violation, e.g. driving too fast, have committed. If this happens, the police car will stop behind you and have the license plate checked first. This may take a few minutes, though it is important that you stay calm in the car during this time and not leave the vehicle without being asked. Afterwards the officer will come to your car and check the papers. In the United States security agencies enjoy a very high reputation and it is advisable to address the police officer with sir or officer.

If you book domestic flights in the US for visiting other cities, or if you would like to do a tour, be sure to pay extra for checked-in baggage on domestic flights (depends on the booking class of your airline). Also, no domestic food is served on domestic flights. The flight attendants go through once, where drinks and a chocolate bar or biscuits are issued. Moreover, the monitors in the front seats will look for you in vain on most domestic flights. To check in for a flight within the US, you will only need your passport, unless you have already checked in beforehand online, so if you carry only carry-on luggage, you will be taken straight to the security checkpoint. At virtually all airports in the US self-check in "vending machines" are available, which can also be used. At many modern, large airports, self-check-in machines can also check in the checked baggage, and you will also receive the sticky label for your luggage that you want to give up. Typically, as usual with us, the seat is not allocated at check-in, but only shortly before the departure, directly at the counter of the departure gate. In order to avoid long queues at the gate, the US airports are subdivided into 5-6 groups, which are called one after the other to board the plane. The security controls on domestic flights can be compared in intensity to those in Europe. After arrival at the destination airport, there are no more checks, which will allow you to go directly to the car rental, taxi or bus terminal.

I can advise you, as soon as you should be somewhat unclear, just ask, since the helpfulness not only by the airport staff or police is very high, but also those of fellow travelers.

 

Immigration

In order to be able to enter the US, an Austrian citizen needs a valid passport and a so-called ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which currently has a validity of two years. Please apply on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it is significantly cheaper (currently 14 USD) as a private provider.

On the plane you will receive a customs declaration during the flight by the board staff, which must be completed. For a family, an explanation is enough. As soon as you got off the plane, you come to the so-called transit zone. The identification at entry is reasonably fast, if one adheres to certain rules. In front of each switch, colored retaining markings are placed on the floor. The officials do not accept if this "privacy" is not respected and can also be very unpleasant, which can delay the entry. Similarly, in the entire transit area is an absolute ban on photography, which must be strictly adhered to. Taking pictures and discovering them (and you can be sure that it will be detected) will not only delay your entry, as it will ask you a multitude of questions, and you will also need to be sure that all the photos on your computer Camera or mobile phone are deleted and the battery is completely discharged.

Furthermore, I would recommend that you inform yourself before traveling to the US (this should be on every flight, not only those going to EU countries), what you may take in your hand luggage or stowed in your checked baggage. Again, and again it happens - often by false information - to misunderstandings, what may be taken in hand luggage or baggage allowance. Your airline has enough information for you on their homepage. Should you need medicine especially infusions or injections I would like to advise you the homepage of Homeland Security and the US Embassy of your country. This is where you will find all current regulations first-handed.  

 

Rent a car

After you have accepted entry and your luggage at your chosen airport in the USA, you can order a rental car at any airport. I recommend to book this car in advance from your home country for the desired period. No matter if you choose Hertz, Alamo, Budget, dollar, Thrifty etc., it is important that you find out in advance which insurance benefits your credit card may already cover. Many credit cards have an extended liability insurance or comprehensive insurance included in the event of an incident. Please also note that in the USA, your age is the determining factor for the conditions how much you pay for a car. Renting a car with a high horsepower (e.g. Ford Mustang) is also not possible for under 24 year olds. Furthermore, you should consider beforehand whether you want to register one or two drivers. The surcharges for a second driver are often very high (about 20 € per day). Here I can recommend that you register with e.g. Hertz as a Gold Member (is free of charge), because with this you not only accelerate the takeover of a rental vehicle, but your spouse is automatically entitled to drive the vehicle as well - and this without extra costs.

Gasoline is referred to as "gas" in the USA and is delivered in gallons, where one gallon (Gal) equals approximately 3.79 liters. The price of a gallon of gasoline is around 2.23 dollars (as of October 2019), which means that one liter of gasoline costs the equivalent of about 0.53 euros. Rental vehicles in the USA are usually not equipped with a navigation system. At e.g. Hertz, a so-called "NeverLost" navigation device can be rented, but it costs up to 14 Euros per day. My recommendation in this regard would be, if you already have a mobile navigation device in Austria, you can purchase road maps for the USA for almost all providers, such as Garmin, which are considerably cheaper for a longer or repeated stay in the USA than if you have to rent a navigation system every time you rent a car in the USA. It is also possible to use the mobile phone as a navigation system with Google Maps or other map apps. Child seats can be ordered directly when booking the rental car or when picking up the rental car.

 

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