Miami is an upmarket beach destination for those looking for winter sunshine
This is a good choice you're looking for a sunny holiday that's more adventurous than one in Europe and easy on the pocket. Miami was one of the cheapest international options and cheapest in America direct from London. The appeal of cheap Virgin Atlantic flights, sunshine, and common language it was all very appealing, and one I would recommend.
I'm going to talk you through the best bits of my trip, places I'd recommend, good things to know and how to save some money. It can be expensive out there and it's good to know how to save some money you don't come home skint.
Important things to know before you go: -
For traveling to America you will need a visa called an ESTA. As the website makes it difficult to find where to apply, here is the link to apply for the US Visa. It says to leave it no later than 72 hours before departing. At this point, applying for a visa with a criminal record then America is going to be very difficult.
Next, I'd suggest booking travel insurance if you're staying for a couple of weeks. If you're staying for less time and don't want to bother, that's your call. Bare in mind healthcare, there isn't free like in the UK.
Also, what's good to do is check your mobile plan for global roaming. I know Vodafone is really good for international roaming, some might incur a daily fee. While you're at home you can download a Google Map of Miami and install Uber, or Lyft as you will need one to leave the airport. Lyft is as I was told while out there, the more ethical choice as drivers as better paid and the fares are about the same.
Please note that if you have fair or sensitive skin, the sun there is really strong. Yes, really. They probably don't call it the 'Sunshine State' for nothing. Wear lots of sunscreen and a summer hat to protect again getting sunburnt. This is something I fell victim to and had to soothe my skin with aftersun costing me more money in the long run. Most convenience stores sell strong sunscreen so it's worth buying this on your first day.
Almost everywhere they go they expect a tip, and it's good to keep a few one-dollar notes on you. Sometimes they will have a card machine set up for tips but other times they need it in cash.
I booked my flight with Virgin Atlantic on their website and it was really cheap. When booking, by default it goes on Economy, but there is an option for 'Economy Light', which is cheaper. Virgin's economy light is perfectly adequate with a TV screen with a good selection of films and food throughout the journey. If you have the app installed before you head to the airport you can use it as a boarding pass to save paper.
Now the flight is booked and the visa was approved it was time to book the hostel. All the hostels are located on the southern end of Miami Beach. I stayed in SoBe Hostel & Bar in Miami, it offers free breakfast and lots of nights out and trips around Florida. It was friendly and affordable but if you want something more premium may head closer to the beach.
I left the airport in a Lyft as I would say it is the best way to make your way over to Miami. My driver was a Vietnam War veteran, I knew from his cap which I assume he wears all the time. He was excited about my visit, especially as a British guy, I'd get lots of attention.
I had a few things planned before I left, however, you might find that you get recommendations and join in other people's plans. It's often the way as usually people there are by themselves and looking to explore together.
The first night I arrived straight from my flight I was offered to go on a pub crawl. I knew that this was a great way to meet people so I said yes, I had a fun night and by 11 pm I hit the wall and had to go to bed. A lot of the guests there are Canadians looking for some sunshine away from the icy cold weather.
The weather there is something you need to keep an eye on, it's got a tropical climate, with cool, wet and hot seasons. You will want to pack light clothing for when it's hot, it's very casual there and can dress for the beach.
"Miami sunny throughout the entire year, despite the few hours of rain each day during the rainy season. If you're planning your vacation in the spring, then you'll probably go to the beach. Miami has plenty of beaches to choose from, including:
- Lummus Park Beach
- Haulover Beach
- South Pointe
- North Beach between 75th and 79th streets"
The next day I want to visit the beach and it was amazing, it definitely felt like a good choice. I generally either walked around because I had the time or got an Uber as they were everywhere and not that expensive. I saw the Art Deco area, had a beer in the Royal Palm hotel, which was one of the first hotels in the Miami we know today. 😎
I made some friends while I was there, and joined them on Lyft and Uber rides around Miami. This included another Couchsurfer who went to stay in a boat in a nice where I was lucky enough to stay and enjoy sailing the boat.
If you're feeling more adventurous you might want to try Couchsurfing, where you get to stay at someone's place for free and experience their way if life. I've been Couchsurfing (sofa surfing) and it's good to stay with them a few days to share stories and experiences. If you stay in a less well-off area you might be on a sofa, in a wealthy area like in Miami you will get a room to yourself or even a boat! 🛥️
If you don't feel like staying with someone you can use 'hangouts' one the Couchsurfing mobile app. This way you can meet other travelers without any overnight stays. Unless your meet up goes really well and becomes a holiday romance. 😍
One day I hired a bike and cycled across the bridge and over to Wynwood which is a really trendy area of Miami. It's got lots of beautiful murals and trendy food and coffee outlets and good for craft lagers. This is where you will find the Wynwood Walls, which is a popular tourist attraction, and for good reason. It's free and has lots of beautiful murals or graffiti artworks, great for Instagram Selfies.
I hope that when you go you will have a great time as I had while I was there, and if you have any questions you can message me.