Andrew and I first found our love for the USA with a trip to Fort Lauderdale almost exactly 14 years ago. We had no kids together, no money and had blagged some free flights and a cheap hotel and we had the time of our lives! We desperately wanted to come back but the children came along and returning seemed like an impossibility. In the last few years we have been lucky enough to rekindle that love with all things America and visited Las Vegas for Andrew’s 40th birthday (a special trip without children!) and then a very special Disney trip over new year 2014/2015 with all three kids. We thought that would probably be it…we love America but it’s never a cheap trip, especially with 3 children, and we had visited more than most people dream of so we were happy, if not a little sad that our US trips had probably ended. A few months back, Andrew had a meeting with his boss who was raving about his villa in Naples, Florida and we found ourselves with itchy feet again! We checked out flights and finances and decided that another trip might be possible! And so we find ourselves back in America – a new town and lots of new adventures to be had! Neither of us was brought up on foreign holidays and whilst we have loved holidays in the UK we have always come back wanting more. Being here in America just gives us a new lust for life and sends us home full of hope and excitement for the future. We will, no doubt, keep coming back here for as long as we are able and will give our children the opportunity to discover this wonderful country. Archie will be back here in April visiting two new states with his school basketball team and I am already very envious that he gets to come back so soon! He is a lucky boy!
So back to this trip. As with all our holidays so far we try to research as much as possible before we arrive so we can make the best of every trip and make some amazing memories along the way. In this series of blogs I don’t necessarily want to bore you with a diary of our family holiday but more share with you the wonders of this part of South West Florida and maybe give you those itchy feet! We tried to find the cheapest flights possible and used Skyscanner this time to get a good deal. Our priority was cost and reduced drive time in the USA. We have flown to places before and arrived shattered and hot with a 3 hour drive ahead of us and it is never a good way to start a holiday. We ended up flying from Heathrow to Atlanta and then on to Fort Myers, a short 30 minute drive from our destination in Naples. The flight time is long – 9 hours and 1 hour 15mins in total with a 2 hour stop over in Atlanta but our journey went without a hitch and we arrived happy and stress free, if not a bit weary, in Fort Myers at 10pm. Unfortunately only 3 of our 4 cases joined us in Florida, the 4th one holding most of Andrew’s clothes remained in Atlanta! Although we purchased our flights from Virgin Atlantic, we actually flew with Delta and I understand this is a regular issue with this airline. We waited in a long queue for about 30 minutes and eventually decided to not let it worry us too much and sort it out the following day. So we collected our hire car and headed for Naples. One note for anyone hiring a car in the US, please check that your price includes insurance and also, if you are offered a free car as part of a package, make sure it is big enough for your needs! We have been caught out in the past with the car not being big enough and having to pay a huge upgrade for a larger vehicle and this time were stung with insurance costs that we weren’t expecting! We had arranged to hire a pick-up as it is so much easier to just throw cases in the back and not have to try to fit everything in the boot, but the car that greeted us was just something else! Andrew drives a pretty big van every day but even he was nervous driving this beast of a vehicle!
We made the decision to swap it the following day for a smaller version but the non-drivers were sorry to see it go! It was pretty bad-ass!
We found our hotel without any problem and were directed to our cottage that we had rented privately through HomeAway. They call it a cottage, but it’s really an apartment! The place is perfect for us, two beds, two baths, a well equipped kitchen, lounge area and balcony overlooking the tennis courts. By the time we arrived it was midnight US time (5am at home) so we were all ready to crash out looking forward to some fun and adventures on this special trip in our favourite place to be.
Click here for the next instalment!