Ah, summer breezes, making us feel oh so fine!
Unless of course, it's a dry hot gust of air blasting into your already sticky face.
The love/hate relationship with summer is real. On the one hand it often means poolside (or even sprinkler-side) mojitos, golden tans, barbecue, and foreign lands. A large majority of people take their summer holidays in August.
In Italy, the whole country gets 2-3 weeks in August off, causing a bit of mayhem at the beach. Within the first two weeks of August many Europeans choose to escape the blistering Mediterranean sun and swarms of tourists and instead visit cooler climates while many of us foreigners find ourselves flocking to their coasts.
That said, as beautiful as a holiday in the sun can be, if you're not totally prepared it can also be quite overwhelming on your system. With heatwave warnings plaguing Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and even Finland, no matter where you are travelling this summer, it's important to know some ways to keep cool. Dehydration or even sun-related illness can be a real bummer when you only have a couple of weeks to enjoy time off from work. To help cope we've compiled a list below of 20 hacks for keeping cool during your sweltering summer holidays.
Check it out below!
20 Pack lightweight, loose fabrics like linen
Can you imagine anything worse than trying to squeeze into your leather leggings or skinny jeans during a humid summer day? We really can't. Trust us, it's better to be cool and comfortable during your summer travels. Not only do fabrics like linen and cotton travel well (when rolled) but they also breathe!
Linen, in particular, is a fantastic summer fabric because you can cover your body from the strong rays of the sun during peak hours while also feeling the breeze on your skin. Linen clothes are popular because linen is an incredibly strong and versatile fabric. With jumpsuits, skirts and two-piece suits coming in a variety of colours and cuts - you can find a linen outfit for any kind of travel that you're looking to do during these months. Opting for lighter colours versus black and brown can be helpful in warding off the heat.
19 2. Avoid sugary drinks
With those tempting advertisements of an icy cold cola with a single drop of condensation dribbling down the side, it can be tempting to rush to the nearest shop or vending machine and order a Coke. What your body really needs to maintain its equilibrium however, is water.
Again, you may be tempted to order a frosty glass of water with ALL of the ice cubes in an attempt to chill your body. Unfortunately, your body has to work much harder to normalize the temperature of the water to its resting temperature of 37 degrees C which in turn, continues to generate heat. The best temperature to drink water in the heat despite all evidence to the contrary, is room temperature.
18 3. Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
If you're not a big fan of water (some people swear they don't like 'the taste') you can still stay hydrated by upping your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables which are full of water too! For example watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, fennel, carrots, oranges, berries... you get the idea! These fruits and veggies power you up without weighing you down as heavy carbs tend to do.
A great hack to flavour your water may be to add a few slices of cucumber or an orange and lemon combo to the water. That can be enough to make it palatable so that you get your hydration. Frozen grapes are also great because they can keep liquids coolish but also serve as a hydrating snack as well. Just pretend it's a regular glass of virgin sangria and say bottoms up!
17 4. Mist Yourself Regularly
It sounds ridiculous but it really can be an effective way to staying cool. You can purchase the fancy atomizer sprays with Evian water in them from almost any pharmacy, or if you're on a tighter budget, hop on over to the dollar store and buy a regular spray bottle and fill it with tap or mineral water. Even using a toy water shooter can work (as long as you don't try to get it through airport security - some questions may be asked). You can combine some coolants like aloe vera or peppermint oil to the mix for a hydrating and cooling effect. Used as a body spray, facial spray or even foot spray can be incredibly refreshing!
16 5. Take Shade
It can be hard to resist the suns rays when you're surrounded by perfectly bronzed Mediterranean natives. The difference however, is their bodies are acclimatized to these conditions and therefore can tolerate more sun exposure. Even still, many take breaks in the shade to protect themselves from the harmful effects of too much sun.
Not only can baking in the sun make you lethargic and zap any energy reserves for later in the day, but roasting your skin to a pinkish 'medium rare' hue, is just not a good look. I don't care if you think it will turn into a tan tomorrow, the permanent damage you are causing your skin is simply not worth the risk. Take regular break under a tree, in the grocery store (freezer aisle), in your bed... wherever you are hidden from the sun to avoid the tomato effect.
15 6. Wear A Wide Brim Hat
It can be a real lifesaver if you're planning any treks or a long day at the beach. The straw material is great because it's woven nature allows the air to pass through and cool your head while providing shade to your face, ears and the back of your neck. The trouble is straw hats can be difficult to pack and may get damaged in travel.
For a much more flex version of protection, a baseball cap can do the trick just as well for blocking your face, just make sure you slather some SPF 30+ on your ears and the back of your neck. These areas are most sensitive to the sun and often get missed.
14 7. Carry an Umbrella / Parasol
It looks a bit looney but carrying an umbrella can block between 77-99 % of UV rays (depending on material and size of the umbrella). For a list of sun blocking specific umbrellas, (many of which have a layer of UV blocking material built-in) check out this handy dandy list. Most of the umbrellas are under $30.
Does it look a bit ridiculous? Sure. Do we care when its 43 degrees and we're walking along the cliffs from Marinha to Benagil in Portugal? We do not. Having an extra layer of protection from the beating sun means you are less likely to get sun stroke, sunburnt or worse.
13 8. Hit The Beach
Speaking of Portugal, one of the surefire ways to cool down on a hot, hot day is to dunk yourself in the sea! Not only does the sea water naturally treat any skin ailments (including sunburns) effectively and sooth you from head to toe, but it's one of the coolest places you can be. That being said, be mindful of the peak hours of the sun and avoid being in the water at that time. Usually this is between 12-2pm.
The water can act as a reflective surface for the hot sun and create an even more powerful effect on your skin. It's best to (see above) take a time out to take some shade during these periods.
12 9. Plan Outings Later
In Spain, many residents don't even consider dinner before 9pm and after a series of intense heatwave warnings, it's easy to see why. It's just too darn hot! It's good to follow this mentality sometimes and take regular breaks (or siestas) during the day when the sun is the strongest and do your exploring about town in the evening/night. You will be surprised that the temperatures may not even drop too much so you will still experience your hot holiday, albeit more bearable in the evening time. Many shops and festivals go on into the night so you don't have to worry about FOMO.
11 10. Run Cold Water on Your Wrists and Feet
You'd be amazed at how instantly you can cool the whole body by paying attention to these two pulse points. Your wrists have a number of veins in them so by running cold water on them it cools the blood traveling to the rest of your body which can result in a cooler bodily temperature.
In fact, your body receives temperature cues from places like the wrists, feet and ears so keeping them cool is a good start. After a long day of sightseeing or even just before bed, make it a habit to rinse your wrists and feet in cold water.
10 11. Tray of Ice In Front of a Fan
Now this is assuming you have access to modern amenities but whether you're staying in cost-effective hostel or budget hotel that lacks AC, chances are there will be a fan and a fridge. By placing a pan or bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan, the icy cold vapours will be blown across the room lowering the temperature of the space. Fans can be great for temporarily relieving the heat with some circulation but this trick will actually change the overall temperature of the room bringing sweet, sweet, relief.
9 12. Mint
Mint is a universal coolant so having some on hand can really be a game changer. Whether you pluck a few leaves for your water, throw some drops of essential oil in a lukewarm bath or roll a peppermint salve or ointment along your forehead, you will experience a cooling sensation. Just be careful not to get any peppermint oil too close to your eyes as it is extremely powerful and can sting. A bonus effect of this miracle herb is that it is also great for alleviating any headaches and/or fatigue associated with the heat. A gentle energy buzz can go a long way when you're in the middle of a heatwave.
8 13. Water Bottle Sprinkler
In most places in the world, you are bound to find a simple garden hose so why not change it into a DIY sprinkler system for a quick refreshing hit? Simply poke a few holes in the side of an empty clear plastic water bottle and attach it to the end of the hose. Turn up the water and watch as the fresh water sprays upwards. It won't be as big a stream as say a traditional sprinkler but you will be able to get some last minute emergency relief anywhere there is green.
If anyone asks, tell them you're the gardener!
7 14. Get Low
No we aren't talking about the ever-famous (and ever-haunting) song by Lil Jon. We are instead talking about the scientific fact that heat rises! So if you are having difficulty sleeping or just finding the air stuffy while upright, why not build yourself a small fort or siesta pad on the floor. With a few cushions, blankets and your added creativity, you will be able to find relief right where you stand.
Bonus points if the floor is covered with cool tiles or if you place the ice cube fan in front of your fort.
6 15. Neck towel / Cooling Bandanas
What a glorious invention! Remember those pulse points we discussed earlier? It includes the back of your neck. If you are in sun, covering the back of your neck with a towel is a good first step. If you want to be ultra savvy, you can pick up a cooling bandana that stays cool for hours once wet with water. It is said that the towels work like a common radiator by circulating molecules while regulating the rate of evaporation. They are available in a series of colours, sizes and styles - check this list for ratings and to see which best suits your travel needs.
5 16. Swap Coffee for Tea
While there's nothing like a hot cup of java first thing in the morning to get your revving for another great day in a foreign place on your summer holiday, the downside is that it is notably quite dehydrating. No one is telling you that you have to give up caffeine (gasp!) altogether but it can help to make a small swap from coffee to tea. Options like green tea have even more caffeine that distributes itself more evenly throughout the morning and has a slew of other 'perks' too. If green tea isn't for you, you can always go for an iced black tea - it has a highly hydrating quotient to it that coffee just can't compete with.
4 17. Spice is nice
There's a reason why hot, spicy foods are mainstays in sweltering locations like India, and Morocco. Spice helps the body to sweat which in turn cools it down. It sounds crazy, doesn't it? Trust us, if you want to beat the heat, make a pit stop at your local taste of India take-out for some Pork Vindaloo or Chicken Tikka Masala and ask for (extra) spicy, please!
If you're not a big fan of these dishes, maybe just some spicy pasta, kimchi, or tacos! It will all depend where you are in the world, but we're positive you can find something to spice it up and cool you down.
3 18. Put Your Cream In The Fridge
If you haven't tried this before you can thank us later. Putting your creams in the fridge including your sun cream, face cream, even your facial cleansers and body washes can serve as a soothing surprise when you get back after a long day in a warm climate. By keeping them fresh, you will also prolong their shelf life as many active ingredients like aloe, prefer to be kept fresh. Talk about a win-win! If you don't have access to a fridge, even keeping them in a cooler with some ice cubes will definitely do the trick.
2 19. Wet Socks
Wet socks. It sounds weird and gross but man is it ever fresh on your feet! Of course, you don't want your socks to be dripping all over the place creating a mess (or a hazard!) for anyone you share the space with.
By wetting your socks and wringing them out carefully you will reap the rewards of fresh feet while you sleep. The vessels in your feet will constrict as your feet cool down, which sends all the good nutrients into your organs and tissues. This trick can also be said to help to cure the common cold!
1 20. Tepid showers
A cold shower is a common myth to beating the heat but in actuality can cause your body to generate more heat as it works hard to bring it back to its resting state. In other words our body may feel cool on a surface level but our core temperature will remain hotter as there is less blood rushing to the skin. So while a cold shower may alleviate immediate hot skin, after a few moments out of the cold water, we will begin to heat up again. As counterintuitive as it is, try showering in tepid or a little warmer than room temperature water for maximum cooling benefits.
References: Reuters, theconversation.com, huffingtonpost