Tips For Traveling In The Heat

I spent the first half of my summer completely drenched in sweat.

Unintentionally, we followed a heat wave for four weeks as it traveled through Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. It hovered between 30 to 40 degrees celsius (86-104 fahrenheit) and the humidity was almost unbearable at times. Indoor markets and museums felt like saunas, the chocolate in the grocery stores had melted, and we found very few places with air conditioning. Even getting a cold drink with ice was difficult at times.

While the locals hung out lethargically and waited for it to pass, we kept on traveling and managed to have a good time despite the sweltering temperatures.

Here are some tips I learned along the way for staying cool (and cheerful!), even in extreme heat.

1. Sightsee in the Mornings and Evenings

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When it’s hot, the best thing to do is wake up early and stay out late. Things are less crowded during these times, and the weather usually cooler. In the afternoons I like to take a nap, read a book, or relax in a shady place. From what I learned this summer, markets, historical sites, and hikes are much better in the early morning, and anything with a good view is better saved for evenings.

2. Stay Hydrated

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Yes, ice cream sounds much better than water and it makes you feel cooler for the moment, but it isn’t hydrating. Water is always the best thing to drink. To save money on bottled water, use a water bottle with a filter and take advantage of water fountains in bigger cities. Water purifiers and purification tablets are also great for camping/ visiting more remote places.

3. Simplify your Itinerary

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You can’t do as much when it’s hot outside and you shouldn’t.  Pick two things to do/see in the morning and evening and keep the afternoons low-key. If you are traveling somewhere with air conditioning, going inside a museum/mall is also a good idea for hot afternoons. Trying to hike to the top of a castle, or standing in line in the hot sun when it’s a sweltering 40 degrees celsius isn’t fun, or smart.

4. Indoor Activities Are Not Always Better

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In many places (North America aside) air conditioning is not a normal thing. Older buildings especially are less likely to have it, as I learned this summer in Eastern Europe. Markets, grocery stores, and museums, especially in Budapest felt like saunas and the small fans they had did nothing to help the heat. In these situations, it’s best to stay outside in the shade, or if you’re lucky to be somewhere where you can, go swimming.

5. Don’t Sleep In A Hot Room

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After spending a day in the heat, you are going to want a refreshing place to come back to. If it’s an option, try to get a room with air conditioning, a fan, or a window that opens. Trying to sleep in a hot stuffy room is miserable.

6. Bring A Hat

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Even if you do all your sightseeing in the mornings and afternoons, and try to stay in the shade as much as possible, you’re going to have to face the sun eventually. A good hat not only protects you, it keeps the sun off your face and head, making you feel much cooler, and a lot happier.


Did I miss anything? Have you ever traveled in extreme heat? I would love to hear your ideas for staying cool when it’s hot. Share your thoughts in the comment section!

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