Temperatures are rising everywhere, heat waves are more frequent, and it’s becoming harder to schedule your travels to completely avoid unpleasantly hot days. But there are ways to cope: yes, you *can* travel in the heat and still enjoy yourself! (And equally importantly, not get heat stroke.)
Choose your clothes wisely. Fabric and flow are more important than color. (White jeans are still…jeans. And they will make you hot.) Wear lightweight, loose fabrics that don’t cling. Skirts (knee-length or so) are great for air flow.
Choose your hotels carefully. In many parts of the world, including much of Europe, air conditioning in hotels is not a given. If the hotel website doesn’t say it has AC, it probably doesn’t. If you have trouble sleeping when you’re hot, watch out for this.
Bring your own shade. A lot of the heat you feel comes from being in the direct sun. When you can’t find shade, make your own with an umbrella. (They’re not just for rain!) Even a small travel umbrella casts enough shade to keep you covered and lower your temperature by a few degrees. Umbrellas are also much better than hats, which trap the heat coming off the top of your head and therefore make you hotter (and give you sweaty Hat Hair). And don’t feel weird about walking around with an open umbrella on a sunny day – more and more people are starting to catch on to the brilliance of portable shade.
Bring your own breeze. A hand fan, even though you have to power it yourself, actually generates quite a nice breeze and makes a tremendous difference in stuffy air or when you’re otherwise overheated. Opt for the foldable variety – like the lacey ones we associate with the flamenco (olé!) – so it will slip easily into your bag when you’re not using it.
Get misty. A misty spray of water (though it wreaks havoc on frizz-prone hair) is also a good way to relieve the heat. In Italy, many of the outdoor cafes have water misters blowing over their tables. You can bring your own mist, too, with a small spray bottle of water. I found a travel spray bottle that has a locking mechanism on the handle (so it won’t spray the inside of your bag) and a fine, wide spray (you don’t want a solid stream of water shooting you in the face). Spray it on your skin and let evaporation do its cooling work.
Hydrate (and then let it go). Speaking of water, don’t forget to drink it. A lot of it. More of it than you think you need to. On the plus side, you’ll sweat out so much of it, you won’t even need more frequent bathroom breaks. And speaking of sweating, just embrace it. You’ll sweat through all of your clothes, so pack accordingly or plan on doing laundry. You’re going to be a sticky mess at the end of the day, but that’s okay; so is everybody else.
Pace yourself. Finally, don’t underestimate how much the heat will wear you down. You simply can’t move as fast or as far in elevated temperatures, and if you push yourself too hard, you’ll eventually collapse into a heap. Walk a little slower. Take more breaks. Don’t feel guilty about napping through part of the afternoon (hey, it’s a cultural tradition in many countries!). Eat more gelato. And enjoy the peace that comes with a more relaxed pace.
Since “relaxed” is a better way to travel anyway, maybe there’s an upside to the heat after all.