The Vacation Villa FAQ

Vacation Villa FAQ for our home in Tuscan Ridge

Often our guests ask similar questions about our villa in Tuscan Ridge, so we’ve created an in-progress FAQ for our home.  You can find the link here – Vacation Villa FAQ.

In our guide there are all sorts of answers to frequently asked questions, including the rental process, deposits and payment, the villa, our south facing pool and spa, how it all works, and some links to general good advice about staying in Florida.

US Customs and Border FAQ

For more specific advice about how to get into the USA with regards to crossing the border, we recommend you visit the US Customs and Border site because this information is constantly being updated.

If you have any other suggestions for the vacation villa FAQ guide please contact us and we will add the content as soon as we can.


Dave and Donna (and Rowan)

Florida travel checklist – what to pack

To help take the strain out of planning your holiday, here’s a travel checklist for what items to take when travelling to Florida and enjoying our Tuscan Ridge villa.  We have left out what clothes you need to bring because this is personal choice and some people pack the bare minimum and do loads of clothes shopping in the malls, whereas some people prefer all the familiar clothes from home.  Although we’d like to think perhaps you need to pack some sunnier clothes than normal!

florida travel checklist

florida travel checklist

Essential travel checklist items

  • Passport, make sure it is valid for at least 6 months
  • ESTA
  • Drivers license for all drivers
  • International driving permit (not mandatory yet)
  • All tickets – flights (etickets), hotel, car hire
  • Travel Insurance, including medical cover – and who to ring
  • Enough small cash for emergencies, and tips
  • Directions to our Tuscan Ridge villa of course!
  • Vacation rental details, such as check-in, key code, and house rules
  • Visas, and paperwork if you need them


None essential items for your suitcase

  • Mobile – do you need to turn off data roaming?
  • Medicine, to avoid having to find a pharmacy when you least want to
  • Travel adaptors – USA runs at 110 volts and not 240 volts so make sure your electrical items work at 100 volts
  • Earplugs
  • Do your bank need to know you’re away so they don’t cancel your card?
  • Nail clippers
  • Toiletries (in plastic bags to avoid leaks going everywhere)
  • A couple of extra dishwasher tablets or washing powder if you plan on doing a few washes when you’re at our villa


Florida specific travel items

  • Sun cream
  • Sun glasses
  • Mosquito repellent if you’re going to the Everglades – DEET is best
  • Theme park tickets – especially if you want to get discount before you arrive
  • A Florida travel map
  • Swimming trunks / bikini for our villa!
  • Jumper for the evenings if you are going in low season when it’s cooler at night


Little people?

At our Tuscan Ridge vacation rental we’re very baby friendly – alarms on the pool doors, a baby proof pool screen, and also a second outer screen to keep the nasties at bay.  Plus a cot and a bed guard for little ones.  You can also hire additional cots from our management company.  Here are some more travel checklist items you should bring along:

  • Factor 50 baby friendly sun cream
  • Nappies (and more nappies)
  • Be prepared to sample baby food / liquid through airport security
  • Food and drink
  • Comforters / blankets
  • A new toy to keep them entertained on the flight
  • Baby passport
  • Change of clothes (or two)
  • Sterilising tablets
  • Sun umbrella for the buggy / stroller
  • Plenty of lightweight clothing
  • Mini sunglasses and hat, if they’ll stay on
  • Car seat arrangements
  • Stroller arrangements


Baby checklist

Baby Rowan – checklist!

International Driving Permit required in Florida or not?

So do I need a permit?  Confused?

In January 2013 an international driving permit (IDP) was indeed needed in Florida to drive legally for visitors outside of the USA.

However this law has now been backtracked (March 2013):

The DHSMV released a Statement on International Driving Permits, stating that the Florida law will not be enforced until a final determination regarding the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic can be made. Although the DHSMV states the law will not be enforced, theoretically this law still exists.


Internation Driving Permit debate

They are only a few pounds to buy, and the Post Office sell them, so it may be worth a quick visit before heading off to Florida.  Get your IDP here.


A law introduced in Florida, USA, on 1 January 2013 requires all persons who hold a licence issued outside of the US to carry an International Driving Permit along with their national driving licence.  Without an IDP, a driver is therefore driving without a valid licence. If stopped, law enforcement has the options of  – Arresting the driver and taking them to jail  – Or giving the driver a citation with a mandatory court appearance.  The AA strongly advises that you should obtain an IDP if you intend to drive in Florida.  Although updates (below) indicate that a fine will not be given just for driving without an IDP, the law hasn’t been amended as yet and does still exist.

LEGOLAND discount tickets | Florida Winter Haven

The LEGOLAND website has recently reduced its Florida resident annual pass to just $99 (correct as of February 2013).  Compared to a single entry to the Winter Haven park at $64 this seems like a bargain.  The pass gives you free parking, LEGOLAND discount dining, admission to the LEGOLAND water parks as well, and admission to the other Merlin attractions in the USA.

For those who don’t have a valid Florida photo ID, if you are a fan of LEGOLAND discount then it’s definitely worth looking into a Merlin annual pass on their website:  These are currently (2013 prices) at $179 for an adult.  The pass not only gets you in to all LEGOLAND attractions, it also has the following:

  • Madame Tussauds New York, Washington D.C, Las Vegas and Hollywood
  • LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth and Kansas City
  • LEGOLAND® Theme Parks Florida and California
  • SEA LIFE Aquariums Arizona, Dallas Fort Worth, California, Kansas City and Minnesota
  • Plus more attractions coming soon!


LEGOLAND discount tickets will get you in to the full list of 2013 events at LEGOLAND.

LEGOLAND 2013 Winter Haven

  • LEGOLAND Water Park re-opens for spring break and summer-time. March 9, 2013
  • Winter Haven Hospital Foundation’s Citrus Classic 5K Run and Fun Walk. April 6, 2013
  • Red, Brick & Boom allows guests to celebrate the 4th of July. July 4, 5 and 6, 2013
  • Brick-or-Treat for Halloween festivities. Weekends in October 2013
  • Christmas Bricktacular. Weekends in December 2013
  • Countdown to New Year’s Eve Party. December 26-30, 2013
  • New Year’s Eve and a DJ dance party in Miniland USA. December 31, 2013


Historic Downtown Kissimmee

Historic Downtown Kissimmee (not spelled Kisimmee or Kissimee or any other variation!) is situated in Osceola County, Florida, United States.  It’s worth a visit on a quiet day inbetween visiting the main Florida attractions and theme parks.  With a character of its own, a few hours can be spent relaxing and seeing what Kissimmee has to offer.  Lake Tohopekaliga also offers a few sights and variety to break up your vacation, why not try some bass fishing?



Historic Downtown Kissimmee is part of a redevelopment programme, offering great shopping, places to eat, restaurants, however whilst it doesn’t have the charm of Celebration it certainly has a bit more history to it.  There is a farmers market (as of 2013 this is on Tuesdays from 4pm), and loads of restaurants:

  • 3 Sisters Speakeasy (226 Broadway)
  • Azteca`s Mexican Restaurant (809 N. Main St.)
  • Breck`s Gourmet Cookies (24B Broadway)
  • Taqueria Tres Amigos (231 Broadway)
  • Broadway Pizza Bar (403 Broadway)
  • Savion’s Place (16 E. Dakin Ave)
  • Susan`s Courtside Cafe (18 S. Orlando Ave.)
  • Joanie`s Diner (120 Broadway)
  • Mrs. Mac`s Restaurant (215 Broadway)
  • Nadia’s Cafe (15 Broadway)
  • Natures Table (214 Broadway)
  • Nene’s Restaurant (324 Broadway)
  • Olga`s Restaurant (708 N. Main St.)
  • Pure Magic Ice Cream (520 North Main Street)
  • Robinson`s Coffee Shop and Diner (114 Broadway.)
  • Teresa`s Bar & Grill (219 Broadway)
  • Vintage Vino Wine Bar (14 E. Dakin Ave)
  • Wicked Step Sister (7 E. Dakin Ave)
  • Willy’s Wieners (108 E Dakin Ave)

Historic Downtown Kissimmee History

The history of Kissimmee (previously named Allendale) mainly lies with a chap called Hamilton Disston.  Southern Florida was mostly underwater in the 1800’s and Hamilton agreed to dredge and drain the land in exchange for half of everything he reclaimed.  This injected money into the state and a trading route was established to the gulf of Mexico along the river Kissimmee.  History shows that the main trade was citrus although cattle ranches were also a fairly dominant industry when big freezes ruined citrus crops in the early 1900s.

Retirements in the US population were encouraged to settle in Kissimmee – boosting the population until Walt Disney World came along in the early 1970’s, at which point Kissimmee doubled in population due to the staff required at the theme park.

Have a look at the Kissimmee main street website for more touring information.