You might have seen in the news recently that Europe has been hit with a pretty big heatwave this summer. While I’m sure that most of you who have European holidays planned for the coming weeks were delighted when you heard this, I was decidedly not.
As I write this article I am sitting in a hotel room in Bordeaux, with the signs of a heat rash already starting to appear on my arms, having only been in 25 degree temperatures for merely two days. I know that sounds ridiculous – believe me, it is – but given that this is something that affects me practically every time I go south of Dover, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way for tackling the heat.
Obviously it’s always going to be hottest in the middle of the day, so if you’re clever about your scheduling you can plan to avoid the sun at its peak
First things first, try to walk around the heat. Obviously it’s always going to be hottest in the middle of the day, so if you’re clever about your scheduling you can plan to avoid the sun at its peak. Get up early in the morning, do any outdoor activities before lunch, and then head to a museum for the afternoon. If that sounds like a bit too much work for you, and you’re more the type that prefers a relaxing holiday, the temperature is a perfect excuse to test out the European tradition of siestas.
Next, and maybe the most important point of all, is to drink lots of water in high temperatures. I sound scarily like my mum right now, but the last thing you want is to get ill from dehydration and have to waste a day of your holiday trying to see a doctor. Just make sure you take a reusable water bottle with you (lots of cafés will fill it up for free if you ask) and take drink breaks throughout the day. Sitting in a local cafe for half an hour is a great way to both rehydrate and recharge, as well as just to soak up the atmosphere around you.
Speaking of sunscreen, I know it’s greasy and stains your clothes, but it’s still a much better alternative to skin cancer
Since I’m as pale as a sheet of paper, I burn scarily quickly. That means no spaghetti straps, no off-the-shoulder tops, and nothing strapless. Summer shopping would be pretty miserable for me, but the best way I’ve found to work around those restrictions and stay covered in the sun is to bring a light-weight, long-sleeved shirt with you that you can use to cover your shoulders. Just remember to be mindful of colour choices – white is great for keeping you cool, but has a tendency to get stained by sunscreen.
Speaking of sunscreen, I know it’s greasy and stains your clothes, but it’s still a much better alternative to skin cancer. I’d like to think everyone would already be using sunscreen, but make sure you find one that’s right for you. I’ll be slathering on the factor 50, but you might need something waterproof, or prefer lotions over sprays. It’s also worthwhile to test out different brands, particularly if you have more sensitive skin. Remember to take your sunscreen with you throughout the day, as you’ll need to reapply, particularly if you are going in the water.
You always need to be careful when travelling, and as much as that applies to safety and security, it also applies to being mindful of the temperatures
I think it’s fair to say that not many people struggle with the heat as much as I do, but on the off chance that someone reading this does, I’ll impart to you my knowledge on how to deal with a nasty heat rash. The best thing you can do is take antihistamines – if you start taking one a day, a week before you go away, it helps to build up your resistance. If you are unlucky enough to still get a heat rash, my number one rule would be to not go in the water. You might think it would help you cool off, but the chemicals in pool water or salt in the sea can really aggravate and escalate the issue. If things get really bad, you can see a doctor and they’ll give you hydrocortisone cream, which should do the trick.
I know it seems like this is all a lot to think about, especially when you’re meant to be off relaxing or having fun, but trust me, having to waste a day of your holiday waiting to see a doctor, or even just in bed all day because of heat stroke, is not the way you want your trip to turn out. You always need to be careful when travelling, and as much as that applies to safety and security, it also applies to being mindful of the temperatures.