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We recently travelled from the UK and did a split stay in Florida. Flying into Miami where we spent a couple of nights before travelling north to Orlando where we finished our trip and flew home from.
Subsequently, the biggest logistical nightmare was travelling between these two cities in Florida. There are currently four different options available;
- Car Rental / Driving
- Private Transfer / Taxi
While flying is the quickest option, the hassle of airports with a toddler – and a whole host of luggage made the method seem difficult and rather expensive. Instead, we personally opted to hire a car and do a one-way rental.
⏱️ Time: 3.5 hours
💵 Cost: $115
💻 Book Hire Car: Discover Cars
Despite only previously driving in the US once before (in Hawaii six months earlier) we decided that renting a car and driving it from Miami up to Orlando was going to be the most convenient and economical solution for our journey.
We did a one-day hire, picking the car up from Miami International Airport at 9am and dropping the car off at Orlando International Airport (MCO) and 8pm that evening.
The cost of the car rental including insurance was $50 which I found to be very reasonable considering it was a one-way rental (I assume rental companies are in favour of more cars heading to the tourist hub of Orlando).
While you can pick-up and drop-off the car at other locations across the city rather than at the airport. You’ll often find it’s significantly cheaper and you’re offered significantly more options by doing so.
However, that isn’t the only cost involved in the journey. We also needed to pay for gas (petrol) and tolls.
While we could have avoided tolls, at 3.5 hours the journey was long enough (as someone coming from the UK that’s a long car journey) so instead, we paid them. To an international tourist, the Florida tolls can be confusing. There are a lot of different options available and every car rental company does it differently.
We rented the car via Enterprise and they offer Toll by Plate which means you don’t pay for a toll pass and instead pay for the tolls you go through (plus a $4.95 admin charge). In this case, the total I paid for all tolls (including the admin charge) was $27.20 which was debited from my credit card on file with Enterprise 7 days after returning the car (although it can take up to six weeks).
I also chose to refuel the car myself rather than have the car rental company do it, which was the right decision given they wanted $3.49 per gallon plus a $9.99 refuelling charge despite me only paying $3.149 at the nearby 7/11.
Refuelling the car cost $37.47 which brought the total cost of driving from Miami to Orlando to $114.67 which was about the same as what we were quoted for a flight for one person with one bag. Subsiquently, driving from Miami to Orlando was certainly the best option for us.
⏱️ Time: 3.5 hours
💵 Cost: $79 per person
💻 Buy Tickets: Omio
On the 7th of September 2023, the Brightline station in Orlando will open and visitors will be able to travel between Miami and Orlando by train in 3 hours and 30 minutes, calling at all Brightline stations; West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Aventura
One-way tickets are set to start from $79, although families of up to four (two adults and two children) will be able to benefit from SMART fare bundles costing as little as $199.
Southbound departures from Orlando to Miami will leave hourly between 5:00am and 8:50pm with northbound departures from Miami to Orlando starting at 6:50am until 9:45pm.
While the train journey is set to take longer than flying, once you add in the time and effort required to get to the airport, go through security etc. the ‘sit back and relax’ element of travelling by train becomes very appealing – not to mention the affordable pricing models.
⏱️ Time: 1 hour
💵 Cost: $70 per person
💻 Buy Tickets: Skyscanner
Flying is the quickest way to travel between Miami to Orlando. However, travel to / from the airport combined with the hassle of security often makes the journey as long as travelling by car or train.
Miami International Airport (MIA) is the only airport in Miami. However, there is also Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport which situated a couple of miles north of the city, Meanwhile in Orlando you’ll find Orlando International Airport (MCO). Alternatively, you’ll find Orlando Sanford International Airport which is also located a couple of miles north of the city.
If you’re travelling without much luggage, then you should be able to find flights between the two cities for between $50 and $120 per person which makes this a very economical option for solo-travellers and even couples who don’t fancy a long drive or train journey.
However, if you’re travelling as a family then the costs could easily reach $400 or $500. As such the SMART fare bundles offered by the Brightline train or a one-way car hire rental will likely be a better option.
⏱️ Time: 3.5 hours
💵 Cost: $340
💻 Reserve Taxi: Hoppa
You can get a private transfer between Miami and Orlando, however, even for large families or groups this is still likely to be the most expensive way to travel at between the two cities.
A private transfer could come in the form of an rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft or even a private company. If you’d like to research the cost and details surrounding a private company then I’d suggest looking at Hoppa which is a price comparison service (similar to SkyScanner but for transfers).
If you do decide that a private transfer is the right transport method for you then I’d highly reccomend reserving a ride in advance given the distance and high value. This can be done using a private company or again using a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft.