PACKING

Packing Advice for Hot Climates

We’ve recently written posts about how to pack for trips to cold and medium climates. To round out the advice, this post will be how to pack for trips with hot, hot, hot weather. This might seem strange considering it is mid-January, but last year at this very time we were packing up for peak summer in Australia.

Proper clothing is crucial in the heat

I’ve discussed how I really don’t like being hot, much less hot and humid. But here’s the thing: there are so many places in this world that are super rad that have super high temperatures. You just have to suck it up and do your best to stay cool. Clothing choices are pivotal in helping you survive the heat, so you have to make sure you pack well. If this sounds too doomsday, there is a plus side for packing for hot climates: summer clothes are usually pretty small so you can cram a lot more in your bag! Here’s the packing that we did a few Februarys ago when we took a nine-day trip to Hawaii.

*Again, I’m not going to include incidentals like undies and pjs since you’ll have to bring that for every trip anyway and everyone has their own preference for how much to pack.

Footwear

Sandals, sandals, sandals. Done. Just kidding…it’s not that easy. For Hawaii, it made sense to have three pairs of shoes: my trusty hiking sandals, flip flops, and waterproof close-toe shoes.

Hiking sandal

In Hawaii, we knew we were going to do a lot of hiking, but hiking sandals are also great for non-hiking trips as they have great support, letting you walk long distances with them on without hurting your feet. On some of our trips we log over 30,000 steps in one day (I’m looking at you Warsaw), so you need to make sure your shoes are up to the test.

Flip-flops

I actually didn’t pack a pair of these to take with me to Hawaii because I wanted a new pair and thought the selection would be better there than in ol’ frozen Idaho. Flippers are really useful for when you are going to be spending a lot of the time at the beach because they are so easy to slip on and off. They can also be real handy when you are in sketchy shower situations and because there’s nothing to them they don’t take up much space in your pack. What the heck, throw in a pair.

Close-toed shoes

B grew up with horses, so whenever we have a chance to go horseback riding on vacations, we usually do. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pack cowboy boots, but you will need to make sure your little feets are fully covered or sometimes they won’t let you on the horse. For Hawaii, I purchased a pair of shoes that would work for horses and also were capable of getting wet for some of our more adventurous snorkeling excursions. It would be a real bummer to kick a piece of coral and scratch up your toes!

Riding horses on the Big Island
Close toe shoes are important for riding horses.

Bottoms

For a weekish long trip, I pack one skirt, one pair of shorts and one pair of pants that can be rolled up when it gets too hot. We’ve discussed material in the other posts, and it plays a very important role when it comes to hot temperatures. My skirt and shorts are made of a lightweight synthetic material that wicks moisture off my skin and keeps me cooler. My pants are made of linen and are nice and breezy.

Skirts are a must in hot climates because you get a nice breeze all the way up your legs and cooling off all that real estate helps keep the rest of you cool. I have a black skirt that has seen many different countries. The black is a good choice because it hides dirt and can look dressier if you want to be fancy.  

Posing in Morocco
Good material will help keep you cool even when you have to wear a lot.

Tops

Since it is hot in Hawaii, I packed three t-shirts and two tank tops. The shirts are nice and thin so I could throw in a few more and not have to worry about it. You’ll want to make sure the material is something that is quick drying. One because you are going to get sweaty, and two, when you wash them out in your sink because they are smelly as all get out, you want them to dry in just a few hours while you sleep. I also packed a long-sleeve shirt for evenings. (A fleece also came with me, but that’s because we left Idaho in cold temperatures and I needed something to wear to the airport.) A scarf or pashmina could also work in place of a long-sleeve shirt.

Dresses

Another option for a travel is a dress. In the heat, these are breezy like a skirt. The down side of a dress is that you don’t get as much use out of it because you can’t switch tops and bottoms to mix up your look, but if you are good with that then go for it. With a dress you never have to worry about your outfit coordinating!

Having fun with leaves in Ecuador
Dresses (and leaves) can help you beat the heat.

Outerwear

You won’t need much in terms of outerwear for a hot climate. Just make sure to bring at least one long-sleeve shirt or scarf and a raincoat. Even if it is hot as a hellfire, it can still rain on you, resulting in you being hot and wet. Gross.   

Incidentals

Swim gear is gonna be big in most hot climates. Since most hot places we go to are also tropical, that means it is also going to be pretty humid. Due to this, it is best to pack more than one swimsuit so you can alternate days and never have to put on a semi-dry swimmer. That is the worst! Heck, since suits are so small, you can even go crazy and pack three if you really feel like it.

Hot springing in the Azores
Multiple swimsuits for multiple thermal pools.

For Hawaii, B tried out a new swim-related item: swim pants. These look just like tight, capri workout pants that are made of swimsuit material. They are great for adventures that including water (think paddle boarding). She recommended them so highly I picked myself up a pair and wore them in the Azores. I very much appreciated the extra sun protection they offered (sun-burnt upper thighs are no fun) and they made me feel like my cellulite wasn’t on display for the world to see. Even if you don’t get swim pants, you should definitely look into a rashguard. These are tight tops made of swimsuit material that keep you from burning or from getting a rash during surfing, etc. My sun-burning fair skin appreciates any extra protection against the sun in hot climates.

Kayaking in the Azores
Swim pants are an excellent way to enjoy kayaking.

Cultural Note

Some countries with crazy hot climates are also very religious and conservative: think Middle East and Northern Africa. In these countries, packing clothes is way more challenging because you can’t just throw on a skimpy tank top and mini skirt. Well, I suppose you could, but you really shouldn’t. For our trip to Morocco, we had to change up our normal hot climates go-tos for some more conservative options. We made sure our skirts were longer but still nice and airy. For tops, we picked very lightweight material that covered our shoulders and didn’t dip too low in the front. Material was VERY important for that trip.

Conclusion

If you want to see the world you are just going to have to come to terms with traveling in places that spike the thermometer. What you pack can make a real difference in your comfort level when you are soaking up the sun.

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