Planning a Florida getaway CAN be as stress-free as your time spent on the sand. We asked pro wanderer and OneTravel Twitter chat co-host Kara Franker of Kara On the Coast to share her best summer packing tips, first travel experience, and what sets Ft. Lauderdale apart as a vacation destination.
And if you like what you see here, don’t forget to join @OneTravel, @VisitFlorida, and @KaraFranker for a special Twitter party on Ft. Lauderdale (August 14, 2014 at 2pm EST). It’ll be chock full of tips, tricks, and deals. Follow #OneTravelChat to participate. The sand, sun, and surf await!
What’s your favorite music to listen to/books to read while on the road/in-flight?
I love listening to Bob Marley. His lyrics about love and unity put me in a stress-free mindset — which is always good for traveling. I have a mix of books on my iPhone Kindle and I just finished reading Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford. It’s a historical account of the rise and fall of Henry Flagler’s railroad down to The Florida Keys. I’m currently reading Naked Paddock by M.K. Ducote, a Miami-based author. It’s a novel about professional racing and young love in South Florida.
When/why did you start blogging about Florida and what has been your favorite post to date?
I started blogging about Florida when I was still practicing law full-time. I used to be a criminal prosecutor in Miami, but hungered for a creative outlet. I started writing about Miami events and entertainment as a way to unwind and let those creative juices flow, after a hard day at work. Then I got addicted! Soon I found myself writing for magazines and blogging for brands, including VISIT FLORIDA.
I’ve written hundreds upon hundreds of blog posts about my travels around Florida, so it’s really hard to pick just one. I think my favorite posts are the ones I’ve published in my travel blogger interview series. It’s a fun way to connect with like-minded cohorts in the blogosphere and chat about why we all love the Sunshine State.
Tell us about your first travel experience.
I grew up in Kansas, one of the most landlocked states in the country (and home to some of the most friendly people on the planet), but felt a longing for the coast. My parents took me to Virginia Beach for the first time when I was in kindergarten and I became obsessed with the ocean. I longed for the day that I could escape to a stretch of sand made just for me. This experience became the framework for all of my future travels and is the reason why I now live on the coast (and hence the name of my blog: Kara on the Coast).
What sets Fort Lauderdale apart as a vacation destination?
Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone. I love the city for it’s boating community, laid-back vibe, unique arts and entertainment, and of course, fabulous beachfront hotels (W Fort Lauderdale, Ritz-Carlton and Harbor Beach Marriott are a few of my faves).
What are three things people typically don’t know about Florida?
1. There are a bunch of hidden islands that are worth exploring. Most people have heard of Sanibel and Captiva Islands (which are two of my absolute favorite places in the whole state), but have you heard of Gasparilla Island? It’s a place where you can escape to experience a piece of Old Florida paradise.
2. There are vibrant arts scenes popping up around Florida, with tons of outdoor art fairs along the coast that showcase a combination of works by both local and international artists. The Wynwood Arts District is must-see neighborhood featuring eclectic street art in Miami.
3. You already know that Florida is famous for it’s wildlife — everything from alligators and snakes to manatees and dolphins. But did you know that there are also saltwater crocodiles in Florida? It’s the only place you’ll find American Crocodiles in the continental United States (they’re also in Puerto Rico).
What are some tips for packing properly for a Fort Lauderdale trip?
1. Sunscreen. While it may be obvious, I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your skin! Please. (This is coming from a girl who has melanoma in her family history and doesn’t leave the house without sunscreen).
2. Cute clothes. Bring a combination of fabulous resort wear (because a pool day at a luxury hotel is always in order) and active, get-in-the-water wear (because you can’t help but go boating, fishing, paddle-boarding, jet-skiing, or swim around in the waves).
3. Camera. I don’t go anywhere without several cameras, namely my iPhone, Samsung Galaxy digital camera and one of my most important possessions – my GoPro. Take lots of pictures! And use the hashtag: #LoveFL.
Which Fort Lauderdale attractions are worth it and which should you skip?
Definitely visit Las Olas Boulevard, a lovely tree-lined street featuring boutiques and outdoor cafes. From there, hop on the water taxi and go bar-hopping along the Intracoastal waterway, but skip the Beach Place shopping center — it’s a little on the cheesy-meets-touristy side.
Are there Instagram accounts/Florida bloggers we should follow before embarking on a vacation to the Sunshine State?
Yes! Here’s a blog post showcasing a few of my favorites.
OneTravel and Spirit Airlines want to send YOU to the Sunshine State. One lucky contest winner will receive a pair of tickets to Ft. Lauderdale, a city long-recognized for its glistening beaches and vibrant cultural scene. Enter in seconds here by providing your first and last name and valid e-mail address.