If you are driving on your own try to map your destination to avoid long traffic delays. In general, most theme parks and big city attractions are south of the Downtown Orlando area, and sometimes even as far as surrounding cities like Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee. Afternoon traffic jams are unfortunately common and Orlando—though not as populated with residents as you might think—is still the 8th worst state in the U.S. for traffic congestion. One handy feature is 511 a free automated service reporting live traffic updates. The main Interstate connecting all points and parks around the city is Interstate 4.
Orlando is certainly a speeding city, and most motorists ignore speed limits, tailgating slower drivers who go less than 80 mph in the faster left lane. Beware of Orlando Toll Roads, which are known for photographing and ticketing unsuspecting motorists who do not understand how tollbooths work.
Remember the street name International Drive as this I-4 parallel road will take you to many of the top attractions in the city. Congestion and worldwide popularity spells bad news for motorists trying to find parking. Summer during summer can be disastrous and so you might do well to simply travel by shuttle service or bus when possible. There are a few gas stations around theme parks who take advantage of motorists and mark up gas prices well beyond the market rate. If you do choose to drive yourself, you will be dealing with well-known rental companies like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z Rent-A-Car, L & M Car Rental, National, and Thrifty.
The LYNX Bus Service takes passengers on about 60 routes serving the greater metropolitan area of the city, and at $2 per ride, it’s far cheaper than a taxi or car rental. The I-Ride Trolley runs along International Drive and Universal Boulevard for most of the day and evening hours. The Trolley is practically a glorified bus and does adhere to traffic laws. However, fare is cheap at $1.25 per ride and there are also unlimited day passes. The flaw of LYNX is that it doesn’t go everywhere other buses go, for example Disney World.
One of the best timesaving tips is to buy a Go Orlando Card, which provides package deals for more than one park in the area. Disney World is not covered, but many of the other parks are; not to worry, Disney World has its own discount system when you book directly at their website, choosing the sites you most want to see.
Orlando is not completely safe nor is it excessively dangerous. Like any other big American city, it has dangerous areas and areas that are completely safe. Naturally, all theme parks are well guarded. However, certain parts of the large Downtown area are questionable, such as the Parramore District where there is a significant number of homeless people. The Orange Blossom Trail near Sand Lake Road is regarded as an unofficial vice district, while Pine Hills also reports a higher than average crime rate. Avoid using the Greyhound bus station in Pine Hills, if possible.
Tourists are often susceptible to scams, theft, assault and vehicle damage because of their unsuspecting nature. Exercise common sense by avoiding leaving any valuables showing in a car, locking away valuables in a hotel safe, and not leaving pets or children alone while sightseeing. Lock and deadbolt your doors, especially your hotel doors. Orlando is not as unsafe as Miami, another well-known city in Florida, but every large city has its share of problems and unsuspecting tourists are easy to take advantage of, which is why basic common sense warnings are issued.