In the Florida Keys, we do not have the typical four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Instead our seasons consist of hurricane season and tourist season. As we approach the cooler weather months and the onslaught of tourists, here are a few tips to spot them and make sure you’re not dressed like one of them.
As a local, your wardrobe should look more beach chic than beach bum. For women: think lightweight colorful dresses, sandals, shorts, and ladylike tops. For men, opt for kahki shorts, button down shirts, polos, leather sandals, and loafers. Beach bum looks to toss: Hawaiian shirts, long white socks with sandals, and any t-shirts you might find at a souvenir shop.
Dress for the Weather
In the middle of winter, its easy to spot the tourists. On a cool January day, the locals will be wearing sweaters and slacks while the tourists will be in t-shirts and shorts. Even though it feels cool to us, fur is really never acceptable when standing next to a palm tree. Save your cold winter attire such as fur for the truly cold weather up north like when you’re visiting Tallahassee.
I remember when we first moved to the Keys, the weather got cool and I knew I’d become a local because I threatened to put on socks. Unless you are planning to go for a run, there really isn’t any need for socks in the Keys. The Keys are all about comfort and the one who can get their toes in the sand quickest always wins.
Tourists always have the most amazing tans…said no one ever. When friends visit us from the north we are constantly reminding them to apply sunscreen. They seem to think that in January, when the weather is cooler that they won’t get a sunburn. As locals, its important to wear sunscreen every day unless you want to make weekly trips to the dermatologist.
Capture the Moment
You used to be able to spot a tourist a mile away by the bulky camera hung around their neck. Todays tourists are a bit more techie and can instead be found huddled around their selfie sticks. We locals know its important to capture the important moments in life, but we leave our selfie sticks at home. Instead, we ask our local bartender friend or acquaintance at a neighboring table to take the picture.
The Fanny Pack
The 1980’s popularized this awful contraption as a way to keep valuables safe and tourists have been donning them ever since. I realize the fanny pack could be considered convenient with their hands-free wearability and easily accessible zipper pockets but even if you are chasing after your kids at the park, opt for a crossbody bag or backpack to keep your items secure.
I always know when it’s a holiday weekend in the Keys because of the horrendous traffic. It’s especially bad the closer you get to bridge. The cars slow, the cameras come out and everyone seems to forget that they should be focused on the road. We locals know that the best place to take in the view and the salty air is at our favorite watering hole with a drink in hand – not while driving on the Overseas Highway.
If you’re a tourist reading this and I just described you, don’t take it personally. After all, most of us came to the Keys on vacation and never left.