Summer Vacation 2016: What We Brought

I think our summer vacation was successful in large part due to the time we took to get the right gear to take. We have taken many trips to the Keys and have learned a lot each time. I think now we know exactly what to pack and what we need to make our lives easy and fun while on vacation.



So every time our kids have gone out on a boat they have been absolutely miserable in their life vests. They must wear them on the boat so I knew this was one item I was going to have to shop around for in order to get the best one. In previous years the ones we had for the kids were very bulky and cumbersome and when they wanted to rest the vest would always rub them in the face. I looked all over, at Academy Sports, West Marine and even Amazon for slimmer vests. I finally just happened upon two in Target and they turned out to be perfect!! The link to hers is here. This is what it looks like on. Very slim and comfy! She had no problems wearing it constantly.IMG_1409


Here is hisIMG_1415

We wore our bathing suits A LOT. It was basically our uniform for the month. I got most of the kids suits at Target and Old Navy. I brought 5 suits each so I didn’t have to do laundry every second (I actually ended up doing laundry every second anyway). 


Here was my outfit pretty much every day. 





I absolutely love the Athleta Twister Bikini. It has the best support and still looks really cute. I have one in Jazzy Purple (shown above) and also Electric Jade. I don’t think I will ever buy another suit top. I bought the Shirred Bottom in Electric Jade and also bought these bottoms from Target and just mix and matched. 50726464


My sunglasses

You MUST have polarized sunglasses to be out on the boat all day. I mean I guess you don’t have to but it makes such a difference in the water color and you can actually see really far into the water while wearing them. These are very comfy and unlike my cheap aviators I normally wear I don’t squint at all. They are cute and protective at the same time. This company is really great to because they have a lifetime warranty! You can read about it here! My whole family loves Costa’s and they are never more perfect than in the Keys. Here is what they look like on.FullSizeRender

Shoes for the Boat

These are tricky because most boat shoes aren’t really adorable. I wanted to find something with a light bottom so it wouldn’t scuff the boat but really needed to grip well and and also be a little cute. These were perfect and extremely comfortable! I just threw them on each day and they had a great grip!

I wore the shirt in the collage as a cover up (along with a rotation of 4 others) and threw on the earrings and I was good to go.

Normally, on all my other trips I would leave off my wedding rings completely. Swimming and snorkeling, I found myself holding on to them so they wouldn’t fall off and I just couldn’t do what I wanted while in the water. Before this trip I came across Qalo rings and ordered one for myself and one for my husband. They are PERFECT. I could wear this and it stays on tight, doesn’t shimmer in the water (hello barracuda) and if it were to slip off I wouldn’t be heartbroken (only $20). I still wear mine every day when I go to the gym. These are so perfect!FullSizeRender


We all had masks, snorkels and fins for the trip. I got these before we left and they were great. The mouthpiece did come off somewhat easily but it wasn’t enough to be a real problem.IMG_1821

Every day we loaded up the boat to head out. I used two of these Thirty One bags every day  to carry what we needed and they were perfect. One held towels and the other one held sunscreen, a grocery bag with snacks, any extra swim shirts, and drink koozies. 

Another item I wouldn’t be able to live without is this waterproof  phone case. It was perfect. I even loved it just to keep my phone from getting wet while on the boat. The underwater pictures turned out pretty good too!IMG_7347


Food and Drink


You definitely need one of these if you go on a boat, to the beach or anywhere you take your cooler. They are perfect for keeping things like sandwiches (or limes) from getting soggy in the melting ice portion of the cooler. There are also Tacklewebs for your boat. These are great for keeping things organized while you are on the water.IMG_1681

If you are visiting the Keys during the summer it is really really hot and if you enjoy beer I would recommend bringing lots of koozies. I normally keep some in my purse because even restaurants have a tough time keeping beer cold. It is just really hot. Having koozies handy really helps. IMG_7323


If you forget one, some places will loan one to you.

They even have koozies for wine glasses!IMG_1473

Another item for keeping drinks cold is a Yeti or RTIC cup. We used these every single day. They keep drinks cold even overnight. We have both Yeti’s and RTIC’s and we didn’t notice a difference. They both work great! I also brought one of these bottles and we used it to mix up margaritas and mimosas. IMG_1537

So that is a little look into what we took on vacation that really helped to make our lives a bit easier.  I know that when you are prepared from the start, you are able to spend more time having fun. If you decide to take a Keys trip or any boat trip really, maybe some of these things will help you too.IMG_1653

Here are the other posts if you missed them!

Summer Vacation 2016: Where We Stayed

Summer Vacation 2016: What We Did

Summer Vacation 2016: What We Ate


Summer Vacation 2016: What We Ate

We ate really well while on vacation. I mentioned here that we ate in a lot which not only saved money but also saved my sanity. Taking children to a busy restaurant at night after a long day in the sun is not my idea of fun. If we did go out to eat it was normally for lunch when everyone wasn’t too tired and the restaurants weren’t too busy. 

Here is a look at some of our meals over the course of the month.

Breakfasts looked something like this for me. The kids ate eggs and bacon almost


Lunches were salads if we were home, sandwiches if on the boat.



Dinner was normally on the grill.




We did go to a few restaurants that really stood out.

While in Key West we ate at Schooner Warf for lunch and it was great!


Fish Dip


Tuna Nachos


Conch Fritters


Blackened Snapper Sandwich

IMG_7321This place was no frills. It is open air and everything is served on paper plates with plastic silverware. That didn’t bother us at all because the food was DELICIOUS. 

We also ate lunch here one day. We sat by the water and it was great! The shrimp were amazing.IMG_7354


Mango Mojito


Royal Red Shrimp – These were a special and were amazing


Fish Dip


Cracked Conch


Mahi Sandwich


Conch Chowder

While in Marathon one day we ate here for lunch. They are known for their Lobster Reuben so I gave it a whirl. It was great!



The No Name Pub was close to us in Big Pine Key. We ordered take-out a few times and ate at the house but we did go in for lunch one day. Their pizzas are great and their fish dip is amazing. I got the Taco Pizza and it was great. I love any kind of pizza you can put a salad on. Sorry it is really dark in there so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. IMG_1677

We definitely ate at home a lot but there are no shortage of great places to eat while visiting.

If you are ever in Big Pine Key you definitely need to put these places on your list.

Square Grouper – I have personally never been here but everyone I know who has gone has loved it. I would suggest going for dinner and getting there early. It fills up fast!

Bistro 31 – This place is a great spot when you want a restaurant to cook your catch. We did this last year and it was fabulous. We brought in wahoo and the chef fried it for us. It wasn’t heavy at all. Super delicious! Their spaghetti was also great.


Wharf Waterside – This is another great dinner spot. They have live music and great specials. Their mussels are wonderful!IMG_1659



Boondocks Grille & Draft House – This would be one of my least favorite as far as food goes, but the atmosphere is great. There is live music and the whole restaurant is open-air. The kids also like it here 1. because their meals are served on take-home Frisbee’s and 2. there is a put-put golf course attached. So be ready for your kids to beg you to play the entire time you eat-ours did. I would suggest the appetizers over the entrees. IMG_1432


Eating in the Keys is somewhat of a sport in and of itself. There are so many amazing places to explore. You could really center a whole trip around just restaurants and I would definitely recommend doing that if you have the opportunity. 

Now, excuse me while I go do some additional Burpees to work off all the vacation food.

Next up, I will post about what we took. A good trip all depends on good gear. I will share what worked for us.

If you missed where we stayed, you can find it here.

If you missed, what we did you can find that here.


Summer Vacation 2016: What We Did

Our Keys trip was really jam packed. We really made the most of every day. We found a routine and went with it. 

Unless the weather didn’t cooperate we went out on the boat at least one time a day. Whether it be snorkeling, fishing, or just riding around, we really wanted to get on the water as much as possible. 

Our days pretty much went like this.

8-8:30- Get up and moving. Coffee and breakfast and taking our time.IMG_1423

9-10 – This was normally my exercise time. I would either walk or do my own “boot camp” style workouts outside using this app.  
11:00 -Pack up the boat and head out to snorkel, fish, and hit the sandbar. I did paddle board one day also!









4-5 – Head back home, swim in the pool shower up.

6-7 – Make and eat dinner.

10:00- Lights out and then start all over again the next day.

These were typical days but we did manage to get some other things in too. 

One day it rained a bunch so we couldn’t go out. That day was filled with lots of “Crazy Eights”.


One day we went to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. This was great for the kids. We learned a lot about different turtles and what we can do to keep them safe.IMG_7291






We also took a couple of trips to Key West. Although it was very very hot, we did have a good time. IMG_7298






We mostly ate in on this trip and I cannot say how great this was. As much as I LOVE going out to dinner it was so much easier to not have to get everyone cleaned, dressed and packed up into the car after a long day outside. We used the grill A LOT and it was perfect!

We also took the boat back out a couple of times after dinner to catch the sunsets. So perfect!!IMG_7326




We had such a great time. There are so many things to do in the Keys. Even if you don’t have a boat there are tons of ways to get out on the water. Hiring a charter is easy and there are plenty! I think just being together every day was great for us. We have been to the Keys many many times without a boat and we still enjoyed ourselves. 

This will definitely go down as one of the best vacations we have ever taken. Such a great time.

If you missed where we stayed it is here.

Next up – what we ate!