How to keep cool while traveling

By Fareboom Staff, Thu, Jul 5, 2018

I’ll never forget the time my husband poured water all over my cousin’s baby.  We were on a family trip to Tuscany, and as usual, the summer heat was brutal.   For my American family, the thing to do when you get too hot is duck into the nearest store or restaurant or just head home – pretty much everywhere you go is air-conditioned.  But as a lifelong resident of not-so-air-conditioned Europe, my French husband knew to watch the baby, and what to do when it seemed like he was getting too hot.  It was a dramatic gesture, but it definitely worked.

Luckily there are lots of other, less extreme strategies for staying cool while you travel.  Here are a few that should help when you’re trying to take in the sights in a relentlessly hot place where a.c. isn’t omnipresent.


- Ask about A.C.  While air conditioning is pretty standard in hotels, motels, and homes in some places, that’s not the case in most places around the world.  Before you book accommodations, be sure to find out if there’s air conditioning. If you have a choice, always take this option, even if it means paying a little extra. A cool night’s sleep or refreshing siesta can make a major difference in how you feel and what you’re able to do during your trip.



- Pack light.  If you’re traveling somewhere hot, plan to dress as lightly as possible.  Try to wear fabrics like cotton or linen. If you’re a girl who likes dresses, make those your main item of clothing.  Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a wide-brimmed hat.   If you’re one of those people (like me) who hate having hot feet, look into sandals specifically made for walking.  Even if you wear orthotics, you can probably still go the sandal route; talk to your podiatrist about getting a pair made for sandals with removable insoles.  It’s a big investment, but if you’re going to be traveling for a while, it’s worth it.


- Plan around the heat.  Sometimes, you only have a day or two to explore somewhere. But if your stay is longer, you should consider planning your sightseeing and activities so that you can avoid hot afternoons.  For example, get up early and do things in the morning, then wait out the heat by having a long lunch on a breezy terrace, taking a splash in the hotel pool or at the beach, or relaxing somewhere indoors (that’s air conditioned).  You could even head back to where you’re staying and take a siesta.  In the late afternoon or early evening, head back out again. 


- Be shady.  When you’re discovering a new place and taking in the sights, you might forget this very simple way to stay cooler (and be a little more protected from the sun): Stay on the shady side of the street whenever possible.


- Be fan-tastic.  In places like southern Europe, you’ll see lots of people using paper or cloth fans, and it’s no surprise – they do actually provide at least a little relief.  Battery-powered, hand-held fans, especially ones that also spray water, can also keep the heat at bay.  And if the place you’re staying doesn’t have air conditioning, think about investing in a cheap electric fan to put by your bed.  It will make a major difference.


- Drink up!  We all know it’s vital to stay hydrated when it’s hot outside.  So make sure you’re drinking non-carbonated water or juice regularly.  Carry a bottle with you – and also use the heat as an excuse to sit down at a café terrace from time to time; you’ll get in some quality rest, relaxation, and people watching with your cool beverage.



- More powder to you.  In addition to making sure you wear sunscreen, lots of travel experts advise using talcum or medicated powders to soothe sweaty skin.  These are especially popular in the hot, humid climates of many South Asian countries.


- Go to church.  Lots of religious sites in Europe, South America, and Asia are made of stone, or have cool areas where breezes pass through.  Stopping to check one out can be a great way to discover something new and quite probably beautiful, and to beat the heat for a while.  Just a word of advice: In some countries, religious sites might have a dress code, like covered head, shoulders, or even legs.  Bring a shawl or non-transparent plastic parka with you, just in case.


- When all else fails: ICE CREAM!   It may sound like a sweet tooth’s ultimate excuse, but gelato or ice cream, or whatever cool frozen treat is available where you are, really does feel like it gives you relief from the heat, at least for a while.  And when the effect wears off, well, that’s an excuse to have some more!



Wherever you travel, here’s wishing you a safe and very cool trip (in all senses of the word)! 


Alysa Salzberg is a writer and trip planner.  She lives in Paris with an eccentric Frenchman, a car-obsessed toddler, and a dog-like cat. Besides them, she loves travel, books, and cookies. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by and check out her website.




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