Help a Brit with an American travel conundrum?
March 4, 2012 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I need to get to Indian River County in Florida from Orlando International Airport. How am I going to do it?

I'm British, and in Britain there are practically no two points that are more than a train and a bus journey apart, however I understand that Americans are far less inclined towards public transport.

I would ideally like to use public transport, but if needs must, I'd hire a car. I'm just not keen on driving in a foreign country, and I don't think Americans are keen on manuals (stick shifters?) either.

So: Can it be done by public transport? If not, what is hiring a car like in the US if I only want it to drive one way (though I'll be driving back the other way two weeks later)?
posted by dougrayrankin to Travel & Transportation around Florida (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Start with The Florida Express Bus website, and see if that suits your needs. Once you're in Vero Beach, you have local bus access to all localities in Indian River County.

The Orlando Airport (MCO) is not as big as Heathrow, but it seems just as busy, especially around baggage claim and ground transportation. Probably 75% of the arriving passengers are heading by ground transportation bus to the theme parks.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:02 AM on March 4, 2012

You are going to Florida. Floridians don't understand public transit. The top four most dangerous cities in the nation for pedestrians are in the sunshine state. Someone walking around is considered suspicious, or eccentric. In short, I can't imagine flying into Orlando and not renting a car unless I was only going to Disney.

You can probably find a long distance bus to Indian River County, but once you get there, don't expect sensible public transit. You might have to wait an hour or more between buses and they definitely will stop running early at night (sometimes before dark!).

You won't find a manual transmission at any car rental agency in the States, but surely if you can drive stick you can drive automatic? Renting a car is really the only thing that won't be a huge hassle. I've never driven in Britain, so I don't know how difficult it is to adjust to the driving-on-the-other-side of the street thing (although I know how difficult it was to re-arrange how I thought about crossing the street when I was in London), but I think that's a much smaller hurdle than trying to do any real travelling in Florida without a car.
posted by dis_integration at 6:19 AM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, and generally, one way rentals are much more expensive than rentals where you return it to the place you rented it. You can probably get the car for $200-300 for the whole two weeks. I would expect two one-way rentals to be the same. And in any case, you'll want the car the whole time unless you plan on never leaving your hotel or wherever else you're sleeping or unless you're meeting up there with someone with a car.
posted by dis_integration at 6:20 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live in Central Florida. I would not count on public transportation to take you that far. I'm 99 percent confident that it does not exist. I would absolutely rent a car. I understand your apprehension about driving in a foreign country. Allow me to assure you that you will be fine. The interstate system and roads are good. You will have plenty of room and get the hang of it quickly. It would be simple to choose a commercial rental company, such as Enterprise, rent a car one way, drive to Indian River, drop off, and do it again when you are ready to return to Orlando.

A thought: Florida is big and sprawling. Most cities and towns are designed for driving. Unfortunately, you won't see many people walking around. Our "city centers" aren't that great. If you don't have a friend in Indian River county to drive you around, I would highly suggest keeping your rental car. You might feel trapped without it because in a lot of places the bus comes ever hour, or three times a day, not every 15 minutes.
posted by Fairchild at 6:21 AM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is a twice daily Greyhound bus from Orlando Airport to Melbourne Airport. After that, you're kind of on your own. Florida is notorious for bad - or non-existent - public transportation. I've had great luck with one-way rental cars from Enterprise in Florida, oftentimes they will do one-way rentals for no fee if its within a reasonable area (Vero Beach is only 30 minutes away from Melbourne, to give you an idea of distance), at least in the metro areas like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, not sure how it would work in Indian River.

It looks like Indian River has a local bus line, I've never used it, but if you've got time and patience, might also be an option. It doesn't go as far north as Melbourne so if you took the greyhound from Orlando to Melbourne, you might need to take a cab (18 miles) to get into the Indian River transit system's reach.

Good luck!
posted by danapiper at 6:33 AM on March 4, 2012

Oh dear, apologies for the overzealous href...
posted by danapiper at 6:34 AM on March 4, 2012

If you wind up renting a car, note that Orlando is thick with toll roads. Most of the toll booths on your route have staff who can make change, but there are occasionally unmanned exits that absolutely require change ($0.75 if I remember correctly), and they reputedly take automatic photos and report violations to your rental company. I'm not sure we were taking the best route, but the last time I went from the airport there to the Florida Turnpike, my wife and I wound up going through one of those to get to the turnpike. You'll also want to allot cash for the turnpike. Getting to it without knowing what lanes to use for the tolls and off/onramps will not be a very enjoyable half-hour, but once you're on the turnpike, the drive is about as easy as it gets.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:24 AM on March 4, 2012

Greyhound bus line at will get you from Orlando to Ft Pierce for about $33.

Before that, you'll have to find a way from the airport to the bus terminal; you can either get a cab or use the transit system.

Once in Ft Pierce you can use GoLine transit to bus most places along the coast.

What other comments say is true: without a car in Florida, especially in a non-metropolitan area, it's going to be quite difficult unless you're staying close to food/work.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2012

Renting a car for two weeks will be about $400 at the cheapest plus gas, according to It may be more if you go for the damage waivers and whatever.

The transit/bus solution will work but depending on when your flight arrives it may take most of a day or even overnight for all of the connections to happen, and trying to build an itinerary and navigate under time pressure (especially getting back to the airport where a missed connection means a missed flight) through three unfamiliar transit systems for a two-time trip is quite a lot of hassle. Possible, yeah, but worth it? You'll be "transiting" for most of the day on both days. When with a car you'll simply be driving for a couple hours door-to-door.

Here's another website with helpful info

The Florida Express Bus that halfbuckaroo linked seems legit but according to their ticketing system the only bus leaving to Vero from the airport itself leaves at 5AM. The 3PM bus requires you to start at the bus terminal.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:22 AM on March 4, 2012

For what it's worth, my Fiance and I made the drive from Vero Beach (in Indian River Co.) To Orlando and back for the first time a few years ago...and it was a very easy drive with the GPS in tow. So if you get a rental car, just know it's not a terrible drive for those not from the area. :)
[OT: Indian River Co is a lovely area. You'll enjoy it. :D]
posted by PeppahCat at 8:26 AM on March 4, 2012

MeMail me - we drive that route several times a week and might me able to get you to Vero.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:40 AM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

My inlaws used to live in Cocoa Beach, which is just north of the area you're headed. We'd fly into Orlando and drive to Cocoa, it's about a hour. You should just rent a car. You can probably rent a stick if you want.
posted by Brittanie at 8:51 AM on March 4, 2012

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