Packing Tips for a Tropical Vacation

Hey, friends!  This is the last post that includes my trip to Key West!  You will get some tips for a hot, humid tourist (non-beach) tropical trip.  We were there a couple of weeks ago at the end of May, right
on the cusp of summer (warm, humid, trade winds).  I really made some blunders for this short trip, which you wouldn't think would be the case because I live here!  

When I'm out and about in the 'burbs, it's hopping from a/c to a/c.  On the island, there isn't much in the way of air conditioning.  Most of the dining is outdoors and stores frequently are mildly air conditioned (there are some exceptions) with some fans to help them along.  

Part of the planning problem was I was out of town (Texas, Michigan) in succession right beforehand, and there was not much time between booking the trip and going.  (When the trip was suggested to my husband, I wasn't sure if the ferry set sail during hurricane season which starts June 1.  (They do, but Darling Husband booked it for May, anyway.))  I'd like to think I would have gotten the fabric-thing right if I'd have had a little more time---Ugh! 

The boat took off from Ft. Myers (a two-hour drive), so we left our house about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, stayed at Ft. Myers Beach overnight, then caught the boat early Wednesday morning.  What I packed:  A pair of denim shorts, t-shirt, sleeveless cotton top, knit tank dress, lightweight cardigan, bathing suit, scarf/sarong, pjs, flip flops.  I wore a tank top, denim shorts and Birkstocks on the ferry, carried my cardigan (which I needed as we were enclosed with a/c), hat and belt bag.  I knew I didn't want to wear/bring denim shorts, but didn't have a choice, as I didn't have anything else.  That why I am so adament that you pick up these Old Navy linen/cotton shorts!
I highly recommend Blue Heaven restaurant--I ordered a vegetarian dish and it was so darned good!!!

The knit dress (above) was not the best because, although it was 100% cotton, being knit made it warmer.  It was purchased for this trip in TX, but I'm not sure I'll wear it again--it may go to eBay, boy, that wasn't the wisest...  I almost, almost wore my sleeveless top with my bathing suit bottoms and sarong tied around my waist on Day 2.   

For reference:  Day 1 we went to lunch, dinner and did some exploring/walking around.  Day 2 we took the Conch Tour Train a couple of times.  Once to a stop near Hemingway's house.  We walked to a pier and the southern most point and had lunch in that area before catching the train back, we lounged at the hotel for awhile before walking to the boat dock.  Sadly, I can't walk as much as I used to with my arthritic knee.  Darling husband looked pretty heat exhausted, so he didn't want to walk a lot, either.  If you can, I would suggest renting scooters--I haven't ridden one before, so didn't want to learn on the go.  They seemed like they would be a lot of fun and easy to find a parking space for.

Here are some tips that I will follow(!) next time:

  • Over-pack makeup.  I went ahead and carried what I would normally wear or take with me.  It was too much.
  • Pack denim or knits.  Denim is, for sure, too heavy.  You may get away with knits if they are lightweight or don't cover much skin, i.e. tank tops
  • Take a heavy handbag.  Leather, unless it's very small, looks out of place.  Try straw or fabric and keep it compact.  My woven belt bag was perfect.  The one I have looks like a traditional fanny pack, if you have one that looks like a small purse attached to a belt, you may like that better from a style standpoint.
  • Worry about your hair!  Don't hate me, but my hair thrives in this kind of weather.  However, I still had to fluff up "hat hair."  If you do it in the morning it will be undone when you step outside.  Stick to whatever is easy and natural, or will work under a hat.

  • Take Minimal Makeup:  Mascara, tinted lip balm, loose or pressed powder.
  • Bring a Hat that has an adjustable brim or tie, so it doesn't blow off.  We experienced trade winds, so either I had to hold my hat on or take it off periodically.  (Hats in widget were not checked for ties.)  
  • Pack sandals, sandals, sandals.  IMO athletic shoes looked overly touristy, hot and clunky, but you know your own feet, if you must wear athletic shoes, then go for it!  No judgements here! 
  • Pack Breathable fabrics.  Trust me, if you generally don't like how linen wrinkles, you won't care!  So linen, cotton, or rayon.  I'd probably stick to above-knee skirts/dresses, too.
  • Have a quality pair of sunglasses.  I only wore my prescription sunglasses and left my regular eyeglasses at the hotel.

A word about:
My fanny pack.  This was a spur of the moment purchase at Earthbound with no specific plan/purpose.  I've been looking at fanny packs whenever I'm out, but haven't seen anything that meets my requirements.  Until this one.  I love the colors, weave and brown strap (all the ones I've seen in this style have been black).  It was marked down under $20, so I bought it.  When I was packing for this trip, it seemed the most practical, as all of my other crossbodies are leather.  It turned out to be perfect.  My wallet and a few other essentials fit into it.  The only other bags I considered were my Boho one, or a canvas backpack.  Yes, I wore this crossbody style, 'cause I'm trendy like that!

Sunscreen:  We packed an SPF 30 spray.  It was only used one day on Darling Husband's face--he should have used it all over, as he gets sun poisoning easily.  I used it on my back/upper arms.  I didn't get burnt at all--there was a lot of walking in and out of shade.   

Dining on the waterfront at Ft. Myers Beach, the food was just so-so.

There you have it!  I know I'll be checking this list if/when we take this trip, or one like it, again!  I hope this has been helpful!

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