As you may already know, many parts of the world have experienced heat waves in recent months, including the United States, Europe, and China. And of course, these extreme conditions raised concerns among travelers visiting these regions.
If you’re planning your next trip and wonder whether traveling during the heatwave is a mindful choice, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Is it safe to travel during a heatwave?
- Health risks
- 10 heatwave safety tips for travelers
Ready? Let’s get started
Is It Safe to Travel During a Heat Wave?
If your destination is affected by the heat wave, you’ll likely need to adjust your plans. This is especially the case if you suffer from chronic health conditions or are part of a high-risk demographic, like young children or seniors.
If you’re visiting an area at risk of:
You may find some tourist attractions closed or evacuated. This is why we recommend you stay updated with local news and government safety advice.
Additionally, people with asthma or breathing difficulties should be aware that not only wildfires but also high humidity levels can exacerbate their conditions.
Health Risks: Heat Exhaustion, Heat Strokes & Sunburns
The health risks associated with high temperatures can vary. Some individuals may only experience discomfort, while others face more severe symptoms. Extreme heat can lead to heat exhaustion, heat strokes, and sunburns.
According to the CDC, heatstroke symptoms include:
- High body temperature: 39.4°C or higher (103°C F)
- Hot or red skin
- No sweating
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should move to a cool place or take a cool bath, don’t drink anything, and seek medical attention immediately. In extreme cases, a heat stroke can lead to permanent disability or death.
On the other hand, heat exhaustion symptoms include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Cold, pale skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast, weak pulse
- Loss of consciousness
In these cases, you should immediately move to a cool place, take off tight clothes and put on wet ones, or take a cool bath. If you’re vomiting, your symptoms last longer than an hour, or they simply worsen, you should seek medical attention.
And last but not least: sunburns. We’ve all experienced sunburns at some point in our lives. If you want to learn how to treat them (including extreme cases) and know when to seek medical care, check out our sunburn guide.
10 Heatwave Safety Tips for Travelers
Traveling amidst a heat wave is feasible, but it requires strategic planning. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a heat wave:
- The morning is the best time to get out and about. Temperatures start to rise around 11 a.m., and heat keeps building until early evening, so getting out early is a good idea.
- Use water to cool yourself. Wash your hands, wrists, arms, and face with cool water as often as possible. Plus, don’t forget to take cool showers.
- Indoor areas are your best friends. Experts advise spending three hours in air-conditioned spaces. Museums, restaurants, and galleries are great refuges from the heat.
- Wear loose, light clothes, and avoid many layers. In fact, UV clothing would be ideal. Plus, don’t forget to put on a hat!
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Make sure to reapply it every two hours, especially if you’re in direct sunlight.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water (more than usual) and skip sugary drinks and alcohol. Besides, when planning your meals, it’s a good idea to prioritize water-filled foods, such as fruits and raw vegetables.
- Book a doctor’s appointment before your trip. If you suffer from a chronic health condition, make sure to visit your doctor before your trip and follow their advice. Even if you must reschedule your trip, it’s better to be safe than sick while traveling.
- Don’t engage in strenuous activities. If you were planning to hike, climb, or simply walk uphill, it’s better to skip it.
- Enjoy green spaces. They tend to be several degrees cooler.
- Get travel insurance. You don’t want to break the bank in case of an emergency.
All in all, it’s possible to travel in such hot weather, but you’ll still have to take some precautions and adjust your plans.
The pandemic’s worst days are behind us. We now know more about COVID-19 and have vaccines available. Yet, globally, the virus remains a concern and its variants are unpredictable. There’s also a rising trend in US COVID cases.
If you happen to experience any COVID symptoms before or after your trip, it’s a good idea to get tested promptly. After all, it’s better to be cautious than to risk losing vacation days to illness.
Need a COVID test? No matter where you are, find testing locations near you with our international directory.