Coping with the heat

I'm in St. Goar where the sun is shining bright. Of course nothing is air conditioned. I have my ways of coping with the heat, but want to know your tips. How do you beat the heat when traveling during a heat wave?

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

When we're out and about and get to the beyond miserable point we find a grocery store, go to the freezer section, stick our head in and find a bag of frozen peas and put it on our chest and neck. Sounds really bizarre I know, but in Venice (first time we did this) I was desperate.. it was so hot I thought I was gonna lose my mind. The other thing we do is stop at cafes often, order sparkling water and a glass of ice and sit for a while. Get up, go as far as we can, then stop at another cafe...

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Soak a towel in cold water and put it around your neck - runners do it and it help cool you off

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1409 posts

Don't get dehydrated. Drink a lot of water -- constantly.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Wear a wide brimmed hat. Drink water. Carry a small bandana and get it wet under a faucet and wipe down my neck and face. Carry a small folding fan. If I'm near a water source (lake, ocean, river) take my shoes off and stick my feet in!!
Put a little electrolyte replacement powder (like Gatorade) in my water bottle.

Posted by Mona
Santa Barbara
231 posts

We are at an apartment in Paris right now and at the beginning of the week we went out and bought an inexpensive electric fan. We also take a morning and evening shower, keep bottles of water in the refrigerator to take with us when we go out for the day and don't go out if we can help it in the sunniest/hottest part of the day. We weren't planning to go to a particular museum this time (we've been several times before)but bought tickets yesterday b/c its air conditioned (maybe this should go under Shameful Travel Secrets). We bought a fan for an apartment in Venice one other year, 2002. We also were in Europe in 2003 when they had the hottest temperatures on record and nothing we did helped much: multiple showers, sleeping with damp towels on us, sitting with our feet in the fountains (like everyone else)... We even spent $$ go up the gondola at Chamonix hoping to buy a drink and cool off at the restaurant up there but it was sweltering at the top and the glaciers were pouring rivulets of water everywhere. Next year we plan to go to southern France or Italy and I'm only looking at exchanges that have pools. That is another coping method we've used.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

Bets when my stepmother spent a summer in Rome doing her doctorate thesis she couldn't afford to stay anywhere with a/c. She stayed in a covent. The floors were tile. She said it was so hot sometimes she would just lie on the tile floor at night to cool down.. after a cool shower of course. not my idea of fun.. When I was in Rome early in Am we would buy frozen water bottles and I found holding it to my neck helped keep me cool.
My dd also bought a parasol.. we found there just wasn't enough shade for us.. so we carried our own.. we know it looks funny , but it was 100 degrees day after day!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4754 posts

I like to take a shower when I come in from tramping around the city. It really cools me down. Ask your hotel for an extra duvet cover, which you can then use as sheet, rather that roasting under a duvet. Keep your shutters or drapes closed all day while you are out, and if your windows tilt open, this will let the air circulate while you aren't there. At night, open them up wide once the sun has sunk down a bit. Walking around the city, I try and splash water on myself from fountains including my clothing a bit, stay in the shade, fan myself, sit in cool churches, use my wet paper towel after washing my hands to also wipe off my face, which is cooling. Frozen bottles of water are great, just make sure they aren't the ones with gas.

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Bets, a wet handkerchief/bandana around my neck feels so good in a heat wave. I usually pack two in different colors; hardly takes up any space and they are lightweight. Happy travels, Linda

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

So here is what we over here to keep the house cool: - Set alarm for 4:45am, get up and open up all windows - Close all windows and shutters at about 8:30 am
- Keep windows and shutters closed during the day

Posted by Anna
Tucson
3 posts

I live in Arizona, where is it as hot as the dickens for 5 months of the year. Here is what I have found helpful: 1. Wear loose clothing 2. Don't wear blue jeans 3. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and give up any cares you have about hat head. 4. Drink a LOT of water 5. If you have no A/C, alternate water with an electrolyte-replacement drink 6. Try to stay out of the sun between 10am-4pm 7. Get up early and do stuff in the early a.m. 8. Here in Arizona, people kind of hibernate in the middle of the day. All of the local wildlife does it, too. So they're out in the early a.m. and at dusk/after dark.
9. If you are worn out and not feeling well, listen to your body and rest. The last thing you need is a trip to the local emergency room due to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

This is a time that a wet t-shirt makes sense. Very cooling!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

HMMmmm well perhaps this should go under "shameful travel ... " but last time I went to Rome I took a small battery operated hand held fan.. it was a LIFESAVER ... and better yet.. wet hands and slide up and down arms and splash face,, then use fan.. and yes. do this in public.. trust me you look dumb but people are envious when they see the fleeting look of relief on your face..

Posted by Lo
Tucson
645 posts

When we lived in WA with no AC and an upstairs bedroom, we would take spray bottles to bed. We'd lie there and spray straight up and enjoy the spray when it hit us on the way down. It was our version of the misters you see here in AZ. Last summer, the 3rd floor apartment we rented in Aix-en-Provence had no AC. All the advice given here about opening the shutters at night, shutting them in the AM to keep the sun out but allow the breeze really worked. And so did sitting in cafes in the shade with cold drinks.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

My mom's trick is to get an empty spray bottle and fill it with water, and the spritz herself as the need arises.

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
129 posts

You can buy special cooling bandanas at REI and other camping stores (about $10)-- they contain a gel which holds wetness for a longer period so you can keep turning the cooler side against your neck. This was recommended to me by a RN.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

A few years ago, during a very warm fall in Italy, I discovered what a blessing my umbrella was on hot sunny day. I now always travel with a collapsible white/patterned umbrella and use it regularly in hot weather. In addition to preventing sunburn better than anything I've found, it really does make an appreciable difference in the perceived temperature.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9091 posts

For travel, I just flat out don't plan any city trips during the months of July and August (Scandinavia exempted). This is mountain or beach time. Because I despise hot weather, my beaches of choice are those on the North Sea in Belgium and the Netherlands. The temperature may be hot, but at least the breeze blowing off the water is always cool (I imagine I would also enjoy the beaches of Denmark or Germany's Baltic coast for the same reason, but I've never visited either). The Bodensee offers the same sort of refreshment, but it isn't as reliably windy. If it's hot in Munich, grab a book, go to the English garden and soak your feet in the stream that runs through the park. More refreshing than even a large, cool Radler. Enjoy the company around you who are probably doint the same thing.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2442 posts

Hot shower suggestion is absolutely true, so is hot tea.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3496 posts

Some of these very good tips only work in dry climates. If it's humid, there's little you can do except fan yourself, use cold packs on the nape of the neck and your wrists, and cold drinks. Loose clothing, always. As Tom said, the best idea is to not go in the summer.

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

Much the same as the others: -- take a cool shower every time I walk in my apartment, and often before bed. -- what Jim said about keeping even the WINDOWS closed when the temperature is high 80s or above sounds counter-intuitive but is one of the most effective ways to keep the heat OUT. -- when out and about, I have a fan and a bandana with me -- the latter to mop up the sweat. -- of course, lots of water,eat gazpacho, ICE CREAM etc. :)
-- in bed I often take a wet washcloth and lay it either on my feet or behind my neck, etc. It really does feel funny to complain so much about temperatures that at home would be considered cool, but a t least here in Paris, the buildings are not built in a way to dissipate heat,so it gets pretty miserable at much lower temperatures. My biggest trick, of course, is trying to stay OUT of the heat as much as possible, but that is a real drag when you've come to see things!!! Walking with an umbrella, or taking the time (and perhaps the slightly less efficient route) to walk on the shady side of the street also make a huge difference in helping you preserve your stamina. But I'm a wimp who LOVES to complain about the heat!!!!

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
648 posts

Bets , sorry to hear about the heat , I'm no fan of it myself ( my family always tells me the house is like a meat locker in summer with the A/C going . Kim is certainly right about Paris ,but any large city ( like NY ) is the same . buildings tend to act like heat sinks and retain the heat they have absorbed during the day well into the evening . One trick I'd like to suggest ,which might at least afford you some sleep ; Taking a shower at bedtime is a great idea ,but make it a HOT one !! While it seems counter intuitive , and without getting into a drawn out explanation of thermodynamics ( the branch of physics that deals with heat ) by taking a hot shower it warms your body up . When you come out your body will be somewhat warmer than the surrounding air . Since the laws of thermodynamics provide that heat flows to cool and never the other way around , as you give up heat to the cooler surrounding air , you will experience a feeling of relief ,albeit temporary . The less you move around the cooler you'll stay . Generally , right before bed this works best to help get a night's sleep . Best wishes , Fall is on its way !!

Posted by Emily
Chicago
256 posts

Hi Bets! Water. Water. Water. Water. Water. Water. Hope that helps ;) One more thing: My friend who has spent a lot of time in India and Southeast Asia told me their secret: tea.
Yes, I know it sounds insane, drinking a hot beverage in heat, but in areas with no air conditioning and undrinkable water, their only option was to boil the water and flavor it, thus making them sweat profusely. What does sweating do? You got it, cools the body down! Coffee will not work because of the caffeine, which is a diuretic, and urinating all the time on top of sweating will lead you on a one-way road to dehydration. Enjoy!

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

Hi Guys,
FYI I'm doing fine with the heat, having lived and traveled in non-air conditioned areas my whole life. However, there had been a few threads the past few days in which people were not doing well. I thought your collective knowledge would serve everyone. You've been great! I hope this thread helps a lot of people. BTW, we froze the water bottles last night (non-gas type, Jo) and that cooooold water was heavenly today. Can't wait to try the bag of peas. The powdered Gatorade is so logical, but I think the sparkling water has a high salt content too. I will bring some Gatorade next time (and a sweater b/c you never know it might be cold here).

Posted by Tara
Sarasota
139 posts

These are great tips. We were in Paris a few weeks ago when it was starting to get really hot. The travel fan I brought with me was a life saver.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

Tried the hot shower, mainly b/c I can't get the water regulated well. As Zoe said, works like a charm. Thanks Steve.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9091 posts

Supposedly, this is why spicy food is more common in hot weather countries. It provokes a small amount of sweating without actually raising the body temperature, and hence, you benefit from the effect of evaporative cooling. Given the German pallate though, Bets, you're unlikely to find any food spicy enough to try this experiment!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4754 posts

Using those frozen peas may work, but I hope that you are then purchasing them. I have this picture of sweaty tourists going into grocery stores, rubbing bags of frozen veg all over their necks, chests and arms and then putting it back into the freezers. Not very appetizing for the person that then comes and buys them. Also, good luck finding big freezer compartment doors here, like they have in the US. more common are freezer chests. Hard to get your head into there.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

I'm glad to announce that the heat wave has broken. If you are east of Cologne, relief is on its way.

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
416 posts

In Texas the heat can be pretty bad and it's amazing how much cooler an umbrella can make you. We wear wide-brimmed hats but the umbrella is a big help. Check out the original use for them. Umbrella and Parasol.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

I think the hot or warm shower works because when you get chilled in a cold shower, your body responds by shivering to warm you up. Then you get hot again.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3194 posts

Yes Jo, we buy the peas. That's the whole point. Didn't realize I had to actually say that. When you buy a bag of frozen vegetables have you considered all the dirty, sweaty hands that have already touched them? The dirty conveyor belts at the factory and grocery store they've been on? It's a plastic bag. You're not eating the bag. And yes, we've had "good luck" finding large door freezer sections all over France and Italy, even in small little grocery stores.

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

Jo -- that is exactly what I was thinking!!! What about the poor person who gets stuck with the bag of "already-loved" peas??!!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7185 posts

I find being well-hydrated is the best way I can keep myself cool. Your body's normal cooling mechanism is evaporating sweat (evaporation consumes heat) so you need water to replace it. I generally try to have breathable clothing to help my sweat evaporate. I also use antiperspirant anywhere sweat isn't likely to help me cool down (but may make me uncomfortable).

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Pat, if it's hot the first week in September (and I'm hoping it is NOT), but just in case, I talked about taking a couple battery operated fans as well! Those trains can be a nightmare, and even finding shade doesn't always help. To heck with how I look. You're my role model :-) I've soaked myself down (in Rome), as well. Seriously allowed the water to just flow down my top and soaked my head. Had a headful of curly locks, but I didn't want to pass out. I can handle the cold, but the heat makes me quite ill.

Posted by Tara
Sarasota
139 posts

We found bigger freezers in little grocery stores in France. Not just Paris, but other towns and villages.