How to survive the heat in a hot place
Vacations full of fresh fruit and beaches always sound really good to me, but to be honest, I’m just not a hot weather kind of Jane. I prefer sweaters to swimsuits; they are softer and I can eat ice cream without feeling guilty. That being said, sometimes you have to put up with the heat if you want to see cool places. No matter how you shake it, Hawaii is going to be hot. It can still be worth it though, if you know some strategies for handling hot weather. If you are like me and start to sweat at 85 degrees, here are some things that might help you survive your next trip to paradise.
Like the handsome cowboy in ‘Country Strong’ croons, timing is everything. If the place you are desperately wanting to visit has seasonal weather, go when it isn’t hot. Seems totally obvious, right? I love Italy. I had a wonderful time visiting in April and May, but even then we had some days that were pretty steamy. B, on the other hand, last visited Italy during February. She had a very different packing list than I did. Sure she didn’t go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea like I did, but she did experience Venice during Carnival–not a bad trade off for not being sweaty. Bonus: lots of people don’t like to travel internationally during the winter months. You will get much better deals and much fewer tourists if you go during the low season.
Clothes–like you before you give a public speech–need to breathe. We’ve talked about this before on this blog; it really pays dividends to purchase clothes that are made of materials that survive in hot weather. In a sticky situation, cotton is most definitely not king. Instead, opt for natural or synthetic blends that will help wick sweat off of you. It might sound crazy, but wool does a very good job of this. Now I’m not saying you should pack a wool sweater for your next trip to Fiji. I am saying you should pick up some thin merino wool underwear, though. Seems counterintuitive, but if a material takes liquid off your body, it will allow some air to get in there and will keep you cooler. Oh, and speaking of letting air get in there, I highly recommend skirts in the hot weather. A little breeze around your legs will cool you off in a jiffy.
We are made mostly of water + when we are hot we sweat = we need to replace the lost water in our bodies. Heat exhaustion is a real downer on a trip. Even beyond the immediate feeling of relief you get when you drink some cold water when you are hot, your body will handle the heat much better if your are properly hydrated. That being said, make sure you drink water that is safe to drink. We are big proponents of reusable water bottles here at Jane Sees, but we are not big fans of giardia. A compromise could be to buy gallons of water and refill your water bottle yourself along the way. On our tour bus in Ecuador we had three seats: one for B, one for me, and one for our three-gallon jug of water.
When you are hot, air blowing on you makes you feel better. These are things we all know. What you might not think about is that you can very easily pack a small fan and in hot situations bust it out. You can even pretend to be a sexy flamenco dancer and open it with flair. It will get the job done of cooling you off that much faster.
When you are hot, not much sounds better than jumping into some cold water. It feels really great too, as long as you stay in the water. Here’s a crazy thought: instead of taking a cold shower, you should actually turn the dial to the middle instead of the far left. Here’s why: taking a warm shower can lower body temperature. Cold water can make you shiver, which is your body’s way of heating you up. You definitely don’t want your body to kick into that mode. Here’s my additional (albeit not scientifically proven) rational: if the water is hotter than the temperature outside of the water, the temperature outside will feel cooler to me when I turn the water off.
Cool key places
If you’ve taken a basic first aid class, you will have learned that one of the quickest ways to cool off someone who is overheated is to place something cool in specific areas of victim’s body. To cool yourself off in a hurry, hold a glass of ice water against your wrist or the back of your neck. You could also do this in your groin area or armpits, but you might want to reserve these maneuvers for extreme situations only or risk getting a few raised eyebrows.
This is gross, but not as gross as dripping sweat. If you carry around a rag or handkerchief you can use this to wipe the sweat out of your eyes. If you are really hot, you can get this rag wet and then use it to wipe your face.
You’ve heard of work smarter, not harder. This can be applied to beating the heat. Again, we all know it is cooler in the shade than in the sun. If you do a little proper planning, you can use the shade to your benefit. At an outdoor music festival this summer, B and I noticed that some trucks along the edge of the grassy area provided a sliver of shade around 1:00 p.m. We reasoned that as the sun set further we would get even more shade. So while everyone else got close to the stage, we set up camp right next to those trucks away from everyone else. Sure, we looked weird for a little while. But a few hours later while they baked, we had a little patch of blessed relief.
When we were touring the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in old San Juan, Puerto Rico, we walked along the outside of the massive walls that protected the people inside from people outside. We were walking along this path in the morning and were in pretty much direct sunlight the entire way. Once we got on the other side I realized that had we decided to walk on the other side first, we would have been shaded the entire time. Proper planning fail.
Air blowing on wet skin cools you off. You can use sweat as the liquid in this scenario or you can use a spray bottle to do this job. Think of the long lines at amusement parks. The best part of the line is when you are under those mister things; a spray bottle brings the mister with you. I’ve seen combo fan/spray bottle apparatuses that do both at once. This probably feels awesome, but might not be so practical if you are trying to pack light. Do what you gotta do to survive, though.
I have a friend who didn’t have air conditioning in her car during a hot Idaho summer. Instead she would keep the windows rolled down and spray herself and her kids as they rolled along. The spray got them wet and the wind from the windows cooled them off as part of a 1-2 punch. It might not have been as sophisticated as normal AC, but it helped them survive.
When all other tricks fail, just get yourself a cold smoothie. One of the best things about the tropics is the tropical fruit, so you might as well embrace it. My personal faves are piña colada, passion fruit, or watermelon/pineapple. One of the most brilliant inventions for resort visiting is the swim up bar. This way you don’t even have to leave the water to get your icy fruit beverage. Genius.
Some people are built for the heat and others are not. If you are in the latter category, you just have to make the best of the situation and deal–otherwise you might miss out on a really great trip. The strategies for handling hot weather above will help you along your path to acceptance. Oh, one last thing, make sure to pack your anti-perspirant!