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7 essential travel tips if you’re dealing with a heat wave

If you are traveling during a heat wave, know how to beat the sun at its own game with these tips

Man with a beard standing on the beach.
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It’s always the warm weather times of the year when we can take time off work and school and do a little traveling. But that means we’ll be out in that sun, heat, and humidity. And, this year, it feels worse than ever, with heat waves just about everywhere. Deaths caused by extreme heat are on the rise in national parks, according to CNN, and record-breaking temperatures aren’t contained to just the U.S. — countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece have also reportedly seen extreme temperature spikes.

If your upcoming travel plans take you from sunny to sunnier, keep these travel tips in mind to stay cool and safe in a heat wave. We want you to get through the trip without turning into a melted mess.


Tips for before you go

Pack for the sun

Don’t do any of that “I’ll buy it when I get there” stuff with things like sunscreen, hats, or other protective sun wear. You won’t. You’re going to be too busy, too tired, or not have the time to go shopping. Go get the items and pack them before you go.

You also need to make sure your clothing matches where you are going. Light, breathable fabrics like linen are a must.

Make sure the AC works everywhere

From your car to your rental car to wherever you are staying, make sure it all has working AC. Ask if you aren’t sure or can’t find the information on the website. You will go from grumpy to miserable if you aren’t able to at least crash in a cool hotel at the end of the day. (And keep in mind that there are areas of the world — Europe, for instance — where ACs aren’t a given, particularly if you’re staying at a smaller hotel.)

If you get traveler’s insurance, make sure it has medical

This is if you are high-risk or don’t do well in extreme heat. If you purchase traveler’s insurance, ask if it covers medical in case you need to seek treatment for any heat-related issues.

In the same sense, before you go anywhere, talk to your doctor about if you would be okay to be out in an excessive heat warning situation and for any advice they could give you to stay safe.

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

When you get to your destination

Speaking of the sun, wear sunscreen and actually reapply it

Putting on the sunscreen once and calling it a day is definitely how walking tomatoes are made. Reapply how often the directions on the bottle say to. 

Drink all of the water

Please drink water. As much as you can, whenever you can. When you go out to eat, make sure you get water — and drink it — in between those vacation drinks. Staying hydrated is so important to keep yourself upright in the heat. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty either, because by then it’s too late. Drink more than you would normally, and drink it all day.

Cool yourself down often

Either wash your hands and face every few hours or bring wipes to run over your neck. If you go overseas, there are fountains where you could easily splash down your arms and neck.

When to see the sights

If your schedule allows it, see the cool things in the morning or the late evening when the sun isn’t trying to kill you. Use those harsh midday hours for indoor things like museums.

Staying safe during a heat wave takes some planning even when you’re just at home on your couch, but if you take a vacation in extreme heat circumstances, please remember these tips. We want you to enjoy your vacation, not be known as the one who fainted or had to spend the week after it hating life because your clothing is still irritating your sunburn. 

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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