Avoid These Common Travel Mistakes in a Heat Wave

Record-setting heatwaves have been making headlines this summer and are likely to continue in the coming weeks. This means that those planning an upcoming trip should pay extra attention and take proper precautions.

Naveen Khosla, pharmacist at telehealth and online pharmacy company Now Patient, said: “Enjoying the sunshine is part of going on holiday, especially if you live in a country where nice weather is a rare occurrence, but the temperatures some popular tourist destinations are experiencing are downright dangerous, and many people may not have experienced temperatures like this before.”

In fact, extreme temperatures pose serious health risks, so it’s always best to prepare and plan your itinerary around summer.

“As someone who lives in Phoenix all year round, the biggest mistake people make is underestimating the power of the sun,” said Melissa Yeager, senior news editor at Lonely Planet. “You can freak out and think, ‘Oh, it’s not so bad.’ But, the heat can really get the better of you, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outside and haven’t prepared.”

HuffPost asked experts to share the biggest mistakes people make when traveling during a heat wave and their advice for staying safe, healthy, and happy on vacation.


“Remember to drink lots of water,” Yeager said. “Start your day with a glass of water. Bring a bottle with you. Try to avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol. If you drink poolside cocktails, make sure you’re also drinking more water to compensate. If you’re doing outdoor activities — whether it’s walking, hiking or biking — set aside places to fill up on water along the way.

His rule of thumb is to refill it when you’ve passed the halfway mark. And if water isn’t available along the way, return after reaching the halfway point of your water supply to make sure you don’t run out of water.

In addition to drinking plenty of water and avoiding dehydrating beverages such as alcohol and coffee, you may want to consider additional hydration boosters and electrolytes.

“Water alone may not be enough when facing the extreme temperatures of a heat wave – you also need to replace the electrolytes you’re losing,” said Justin Chapman, travel specialist at the tour company. Go2Africa, “Without minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium that provide hydration to your cells, your body cannot absorb the proper hydration it needs. electrolytes Can regulate muscle and nerve functions, which is why dehydration can lead to muscle weakness, as well as tiredness and headaches.”

avoiding indoor activities

“There’s a tendency to feel like you have to stay outside when you’re on vacation, but during a heat wave, it’s important to spend a few hours of the day indoors or, failing that, in the shade,” said Hugh Owen, co-founder of the vacation-planning marketplace. travel local,

Check weather forecasts and advisories and plan your day based on that information.

“Early afternoon to late afternoon is usually the hottest time, so keep outdoor activities to a minimum during those hours,” Yeager said. “Instead, opt for activities like museums, movies, eating a meal indoors or maybe taking a nap.”

Owen recommends using the summer as an opportunity to immerse yourself in cultural activities, such as exploring museums and art galleries and taking long lunches and coffee breaks in the shade.

“For example, in Seville, the Andalusian Contemporary Art Center is a great place to spend a few hours, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts,” he said. “Madrid is home to some of the best art galleries in Europe, including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, where you can see some of Picasso’s most famous works.”

And if you’re feeling hot and tired after hiking to the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens, consider relaxing at the nearby Acropolis Museum, which displays important artifacts and provides more information about the famous site.

“It has also been awarded several times for its beautiful architecture and natural light inside,” Owen said.

Sylvain Sonnet via Getty Images

Spend the hottest hours of the day visiting the impressive indoor sites your destination has to offer.

trying to do too much

“Be soft on yourself in terms of holiday expectations during a heat wave,” Yeager said. “We get so little time for vacations in America. I think people feel pressured to pack everything into one vacation—especially when you’ve spent so much time and money planning the trip.”

Don’t feel bad if you fail to visit every attraction, especially when it means over-exerting yourself during the hottest hours of the day during a heat wave.

Yeager urged, “Adopt the Italian phrase ‘dolce far niente’ – the joy of doing nothing.” “Spending time eating gelato and people-watching at an Italian cafe can be just as rewarding as seeing many of the sights.”

She added, “And a special note to parents: I know there’s a lot of pressure for your kids to create a perfect holiday memory, but it’s a kind reminder that this is all new to them.” “They are thrilled to be in a new place and to spend time with you. So don’t feel bad if everyone has to go through the summer to check off every milestone, instead of spending the afternoon by the pool or on the beach.

slept in

Of course, you want to relax on vacation, but if you want to do some sightseeing, it’s usually best to do it in the morning when the heat isn’t so bad.

“As many Europeans do and it’s best to reschedule the day,” Owen said. “Dawn or early evening to early hours, is the time when the days are coldest, so it’s best to avoid walking during these times, if you can, to avoid the heat. This means a short night’s sleep, but you make up for it in the middle of the day – build a ‘siesta’ into your day as the Spanish do. It’s a great way to get more energy to experience the nightlife, and it’s good for your health too.

Specific times can vary from place to place, so do your research to determine the hottest and coldest times of day at your destination and plan your sleep and activities around that.

Choosing the wrong clothing strategy

Wearing cool and comfortable clothing can make a difference in how you feel throughout the day. Consider layers to easily remove or add items when the temperature changes.

“It can be tempting to wear as little as possible when it’s so hot, but covering up with light clothing can help you feel cooler than sun-exposed skin,” Chapman said. “In warmer weather, use light-colored, natural fabrics like cotton and linen. These are breathable and will keep you cool, unlike synthetic fabrics that will trap bacteria and odor as well as heat and make you feel hot.

Ignoring Your Body’s Signals

“I think the most common mistake people make when traveling is not being honest with themselves about how they feel,” said Dr. Gregory Katz, cardiologist and assistant professor at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. “They’re thinking, ‘I’m traveling, I want to do all this, so I’m going to get over any weird sensations in my body.’ And as a result, they’re ignoring the signals their bodies are sending that something is wrong.

He recommends paying attention to how you feel throughout the day, especially if you have a chronic illness. Traveling naturally disrupts your routine, so you’ll want to make sure you carry any medications you take for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease — and that you take them on consistent schedules throughout your trip.

“Be honest with yourself about your overall risk profile,” Katz said. “Do you take medication for chronic conditions? Would you mind telling that your health is not at all good? This puts you in that category where you need to be even more vigilant and listen to your body.

Not Applying – and Reapplying – Sunscreen

“Regardless of how much time you spend in the sun, it’s important to wear sunscreen throughout the day because you want to protect your skin as much as possible,” Khosla said.

Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply at least every two hours. Remember, it doesn’t take long in the sun for your skin to burn.

“Most people believe that your skin can only burn when the sun is at its hottest. However, you can still get sunburned when it is cloudy or windy, so it is important to keep that in mind,” said Khosla.

too much direct sun exposure

“It’s important that you limit the time you’re in direct sunlight and consider seeking shade during the afternoon, which is the hottest part of the day,” Khosla said. “Take other steps to keep your body from overheating, such as using a fan or placing a wet towel over your head and neck.”

Although lounging in the sun is a big part of many people’s vacations, you may want to amend your sunbathing plans during a heat wave.

“After spending months looking forward to your vacation and dreaming of lying on the beach, the thought of staying inside because it’s too hot can be depressing,” Chapman said. “But there are risks in sunbathing, even at low temperatures, so during a heat wave, it can be dangerous. It’s best to stay out of the sun as much as possible, so try to spend the day at the beach – go to the beach in the late afternoon, when temperatures are slightly lower so you can still get some vitamin D.

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