Oh, summer, that blissful time of year when both temperatures and flight prices skyrocket. Unless you’re planning on heading to the Southern Hemisphere for Winter: Round Two, you’re going to be dealing with heat, heat, and more heat. If your travel plans consist of lounging next to a body of water and your only walking tours include those taken from the pool to the beach to the bar and back again, the only thing you need to worry about this summer is sunscreen, a good book, and wondering if 10:00 a.m. is too early to start drinking (It’s not. We checked). If you’re taking on something slightly more strenuous, make sure to plan accordingly. Nothing puts a damper on one’s enthusiasm for seeing the relics of ancient Greece than dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Do I even need to put this? Please wear it. Even if you don’t think you burn, put it on anyway. Before you get dressed in the morning reach for the sunscreen. I’ve had two separate vacations with two different individuals who refused to put sunscreen on because they claimed they wouldn’t burn. Both individuals got severely sunburned and suffered from heat stroke. Epic travel fail. Don’t do this.
Normally traveling during the hottest part of the day is considered a good idea and it is if you’re in a plane or an air-conditioned car/train/whatever. However, bus trips aren’t exactly known for their comfort. Unless, of course, you have the option to hop on a luxury bus line with air-conditioning and reclining seats. Assuming you don’t have the luxury of this choice, plan your bus trips for early in the morning or late at night when the weather has cooled down. Remember those uncomfortable summer camp trips on the yellow schools buses with the vinyl seats? Yeah. Definitely not an experience anyone needs to relive.
Researchers estimate that 50-70% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. That’s not a good thing, especially while traveling in the heat. Drink water and lots of it.
You’re on vacation. Take a nap. You deserve it. If you’re traveling through areas like Italy or Spain, you should plan to take a nap anyway. Although areas heavily frequented by tourists will remain open, it’s still a time of the day where not much happens. You know why? Because it’s hot. Take a hint from the locals, and kick your feet up for a bit. You’ll be renewed and refreshed for an evening of tapas and dancing. If you’re not up for an afternoon siesta or a trip to the pool, designate the afternoon for indoor activities like air-conditioned museums. Avoid attractions that will have you standing in line in the sun for hours on end.
Wear a hat. Seriously. I’d opt for one of those stylin’ umbrella hats. You know what I’m talking about. This is one of those times when that whole “less is more” thing doesn’t necessarily apply. Covering more of your skin with lightweight clothing made of natural fibers can actually be cooler than walking around half-naked. For the ladies, a long, breezy skirt will keep you infinitely cooler than the shortest of shorts. Repeat after me: Jeans are not my friend.
Keep meals light and fresh, particularly during the heat of day. Cold soups, salads, fresh fish, and lots of liquid is the key to keeping your body fueled, but not overloaded. For the record, gelato does not count as a liquid and I never thought I’d say this, but keep the margaritas and ice cold beers to a minimum. I’m not saying don’t drink alcohol. I’m just saying to make sure your water intake is greater than your tequila intake.
Slow it Down
Traveling is exciting and while it’s tempting to try and do and see everything, rushing around in 95 degree temperatures is the quickest way to crash and burn. Plan your most strenuous activities earlier in the morning and try to take it easy during the hottest part of the day. If sitting around for a few hours isn’t your style then find activities that won’t have you standing out in the sun. You know, like spelunking.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Know the symptoms. If you or anyone in your party is exhibiting dizziness, muscle weakness, and nausea or vomiting, find shade (or an air-conditioned building) and water immediately. If symptoms persist, see a doctor. One more reason it’s always a good idea to know the emergency numbers of your host country.