There has been a lot of news coverage recently about the extreme temperatures in much of the northern hemisphere. Traveling in the summer has its perks – generally it’s peak time for tourism so everything is open and running, but you do need to be weather-aware. Compounding the issue is that some countries are ill-equipped for dealing with hot temperatures, with air conditioning being a rarity. It’s always best to prepare for and plan your itinerary around the possibility of a heat wave. Here are some ways to stay safe, healthy, and happy on your next summertime vacation.
Stay hydrated. This seems obvious, but keep in mind that many places in Europe do not have water fountains like much of the U.S. does. Bring a water bottle with you whenever leaving your hotel, and especially be sure to drink water if you plan to consume alcohol. Water alone may not be enough to maintain hydration; especially if planning a physical activity think about bringing something that has electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Hydration packets to add to your water are easy to carry. Remember, you’ll usually be more active when on vacation versus staying at home. Even if you’re not feeling thirsty, drinking water will help ensure you have the energy to withstand the heat.
Clothing. Wearing layers are key, especially in northern climates where the temperatures can swing dramatically during the day. During a heatwave, covering up with light fabrics can have the benefit of keeping you cool while also protecting your skin from direct sun exposure versus simply wearing less clothing. Also, avoid synthetic fabrics which tend to trap in heat.
Build in a nap. There’s a reason why the “siesta” is popular in Spain, because it takes place during the hottest part of the day. Think about doing most of your walking and other physical activity early in the morning or at night when the temperatures are lower. Taking a brief nap in the afternoon will also recharge you for the evening. And if you are just too excited to nap in the heat of the day, then…
Spend time indoors. During the midafternoon when temperatures are at their peak, consider planning indoor activities/visits like museums, art galleries, shopping, performances, movies, etc. work nicely if air-conditioned. This makes for a nice break after walking around outdoors and gives you a chance to recharge for a fun night at a long dinner during the evening.
Sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must regardless of how long you plan to be outside. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and apply it every two hours. Remember, you can get sunburned even when it’s cloudy outside; so apply it regardless of the weather – your skin will thank you! It’s great to get some vitamin D exposure but do so when the sun is lower in the sky.
Listen to your body. It may be tempting to think “I’m on vacation, so I’m going to see as much as I possibly can.” But be honest with yourself and how you feel. If your body is overworked or overheated, there is nothing wrong with taking a break and just soaking in the destination out of the sun. Listen to the cues your body is sending and you’ll have a much more relaxing trip.
Summer is a great time to travel, but hot temperatures can be a burden if you’re not prepared. Pay extra attention to the details and take additional precautions. That way you’ll remain healthy and safe regardless of how hot it is outdoors.