After travelling in 50 countries over the past 15 years you would think I could get used to the heat … but there are tips for travelling in hot weather to make it a healthy, happy experience.
I have come to the conclusion that I am not evolutionarily suited to being in hot climates, let alone engaging in active travel. I have Type 1 skin: pale, freckly, sensitive even. I also find the heat saps my energy, particularly when combined with humidity.
Cue lots of travel photographs featuring me looking hot, red-faced, sweaty and even sometimes sunburnt. I have included a few with this post for your edification and amusement.
Unfortunately there is so much fascinating travel to be experienced in the hotter parts of the world and I am particularly addicted to destinations in Asia so … here are few things I have learned along the way to help me deal with travel in hot weather.
What to wear travelling in hot weather
Light trousers or a long cotton skirt, long-sleeved cotton shirts and a sunhat with a broad-brim are my rule when travelling in hot climates. Covering up in light fabrics makes you cooler than exposing as much flesh to the sun as possible. In many non-Western countries it is culturally offensive to go about in a strappy mini-dress or tiny shorts, and in the west it is just plain stupid. I often pick up suitable light cotton clothing in local markets.
Taking care of your skin while travelling
Over the years I have learnt to use more appropriate products to take care of my skin while travelling in hot countries. Of course the climate could be extremely humid, as in tropical Asia, or very dry, as in many African countries. Find a face cleanser that is gentle but will really get rid of the grime after a hot day of travelling. Then think about the humidity level when choosing a moisturiser. You don’t want your skin to end up like these salt pans in Namibia!
Dealing with a blistering sun on a daily basis when travelling you have to learn to be wary of it. Sun protection is always my first consideration and so a moisturiser must have a reasonable SPF level. I like anti-redness moisturisers particularly and non-greasy is a must. Skin like mine is very susceptible but the sun’s UV rays can damage anyone’s skin.
I have always struggled with using makeup in hot climates because the heat just seems to cook foundation both inside and outside the bottle. Recently I have started using brush on powder foundation, which provides a very light coverage, over a primer.
Think about the bugs
As well as the sun, another danger to consider in some hot countries is the insects. Not to alarm you but in tropical and subtropical areas around the world mosquitoes carry malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis. There are also ticks, fleas Tsetse Flies and sandflies to consider.
Talk to your travel doctor about vaccinations and prophylactics; and carry a supply of effective insect repellent. When planning on your long, cool travel trousers and shirts I recommend the type that has in-built insect repellent. These are often made from quick-drying, easy-to-wash fabric and some even have UV protection included.
Look after your feet
From standing in line at the airport security to city sightseeing to mountain hiking, travelling involves a lot of time on your feet. Invest in a quality travel sandal. Get one that will support your feet, fits firmly but comfortably and one that dries quickly. There’s nothing worse than walking around in wet sandals after a monsoonal downpour or river crossing.
Take time to revitalise
As every travel buddy I have ever had will swear to you, I don’t do things by halves when I travel. I want to go everywhere and see everything even if that takes all day, every day. But I find hot weather extremely enervating and I have learned to scale back my ambitions to match my energy levels.
Make sure you carry enough water for the day and I have started to add an electrolyte-enhanced drinking tab to my water bottle to replenish vital nutrients, especially when I will be doing a lot of walking in the heat. I also take multi-vitamins regularly while travelling because it is often difficult to keep up a diet of fresh vegetables and fruit.
And finally, spend the hottest hours of the day in the shade relaxing. For some people ‘hammock time’ may be an obvious thing to do while travelling but I had to learn the hard way.
The ultimate travel packing list
Have a look at my travel pack list post for my absolute travel essentials but is there anything else helpful for dealing with the heat? I always include sunglasses to protect my eyes and a big cotton scarf is very useful as a cover-up, headscarf, towel, blanket and beach or picnic mat.
By Natasha von Geldern
Do you have any tips for travelling in hot weather?