by- Elizabeth Schaaf
If you’ve ever been on the roads in Florida, you may have noticed there’s a lot of toll roads, especially in central Florida. Even I-4, the ever busy interstate that runs right by Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, has its own set of toll lanes that allows for drivers to skip over the local congestion in Orlando central.
But as a Florida visitor, how do you handle toll roads? Do you just carry change and small bills to stop at the higher priced cash windows? Do you choose to pay the surcharges from the car rental company to use their transponders?
Don’t overpay on tolls just because you are a visitor!
If you are flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and are renting a car, you can take advantage of the Visitor Toll Pass program. All you have to do is download the Visitor Toll Pass app to your phone. Create an account, then reserve your pass. Don’t stress if you’re in the airport (or like me on my last trip and doing it from the plane) and the app won’t allow you to make an immediate reservation – just take the first available one, which is typically an hour from your current time. Add a credit card to your account, and that’s it!
The trick is finding the pick up vending machine once you are in the airport! There is only one machine, and it is in Terminal A near the rental car counters. It’s also somewhat hidden – there are some small signs that point you in the right direction. Generally speaking, if you’re coming down the main escalator to the car counter level, make a left. Walk down the concourse a bit, and the machine will be on your left between the counters and the windows. The machine being in Terminal A may mean that you have to be strategic – in my case, I went off to find the machine while my husband and our teens went to get the luggage in Terminal B. It took us about the same amount of time!
Once you find the machine, if you are there during normal business hours, there will be an attendant to answer any questions you may have. However, the machine is pretty easy to use. You’ll receive a QR code on your app, and you just scan that for your pass to dispense. Very important – once you have your pass and your rental car, go back into your app to update it with your rental car license plate. Our rental car had a transponder, but we just kept the case closed and hung our pass. Success!
When your trip is over, it’s very easy to return your pass. There’s mail style boxes coming in from the rental car areas in both terminals. Just slide your pass in and keep going!
Our toll rates were very reasonable. We drove from the airport to Disney World, then Disney World to Port Canaveral, then Port Canaveral to the airport. It was almost completely on toll roads, and our total was about $12.
Another toll payment option is for those who drive into Florida, and it’s a great option if you run into toll roads elsewhere. You can purchase a SunPass Pro at many different locations, including at the state Welcome Centers. It runs around $16, and then you just add money to your toll account. It attaches to your windshield with suction cups, so you can use it in different cars, including rental cars. Just don’t do what I did on this trip and leave it in your car at your home airport (which is how I ended up with the Visitor Toll Pass!). I actually got this transponder because it also works in 21 states, including my home state of North Carolina. It allows you to pay the lower rates in the locations it serves instead of the higher ‘by mail’ rates.
Now go have fun on your Florida vacation and save some money on your driving! If you haven’t booked your vacation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or your SAT agent at https://straightawaytravel.com/meet-our-team/