Summer is right around the corner and many people will be looking forward to an exciting holiday over the coming months. Besides packing your favorite clothes, looking for delicious restaurants to try out and perhaps taking up a new language, remember to consider your health and safety when abroad too.
Nobody likes getting sun burnt, hay fever, mosquito bites or headaches. Therefore, my quick fire tips below will help to prepare you for a more enjoyable and safer time on your travels. From sun cream to staying hydrated in the heat, read on for my pick of the top things to remember for a safer summer this year.
1. Sun Screen
Having great skin comes in part from protecting it against sun damage. You can wear moisturizers with sun screen in them throughout the year but it is especially important to consider using sun protection in the hotter summer months. This is because the UVA and UVB rays from the sun will penetrate your skin with greater intensity in warmer climates.
It is worth remembering that this is the case even if you are sitting in the shade and even if you can feel a gentle breeze in the air. The sun is able to get through light clothing as well so being prepared is really the only way to avoid skin damage in the heat.
Use a sun cream, lotion or spray with a sun protection factor (or SPF) of at least 15 for day to day use. Look for one with at least SPF 30 when you are on holiday for example too. However, always check the approximate predicted temperatures for the region you are travelling to online prior to your departure date. Ask a pharmacist or shop assistant in the drug store for further advice before you purchase your sun cream too. This way you can get the SPF factor which will best suit your needs and location.
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It goes without saying that one should avoid staying out in the sun in the hottest part of the day which is often between 10 am and 2 pm. Use sun umbrellas for shade, hats and sunglasses to protect your head, neck, shoulders and eyes. A layer of light clothing such as a t-shirt or beach cover-up will also protect your shoulders and upper arms which can often be exposed to sunlight from directly above you in the day time.
Remember to put sun cream on the more delicate areas on your face such as your ears and nose and use a moisturizing chap stick for your lips with SPF in it. The ears and mouth are areas of the face which most people forget about protecting from the sun and they are delicate and easily burnt, so it is worth remembering this tip! In addition, if you are swimming regularly then always re-apply your sun protection to your whole body again once you are out of the water and dry again.
2. Insect Repellent
In addition to using sun screen, you may be travelling to a region of the world where there are mosquitoes or other insects. To avoid getting bitten and suffering whilst you are trying to enjoy yourself, a little bit of insect repellent can go a long way. Only apply the spray or cream formula to the exposed parts of your skin and be careful when applying it around the facial area and especially avoid getting it in your eyes or mouth.
Always start with a thin layer of insect repellent on your skin because you can build it up again throughout the day if you notice an increase of insects at certain times. If you start getting bitten then try to cover up as much of your skin as possible. For example, switch from a skirt or shorts to longer trousers and from a short sleeved top to a longer sleeved one.
Some insect repellents can have an usual smell and contain strong chemicals. Therefore, it is best to wash it off your face and body in the evening time (or in the morning if night time is when mosquitoes are most active in your current geographical region). It is true that some people attract mosquitoes more than others and this is because of the natural odours our skin produces.
Every individual has their own unique smell or ‘scent profile’ which mosquitoes can recognize. Some people are lucky in that their particular scent repels mosquitoes naturally. However, these individuals are in the minority! But if you have ever wondered why you never get bitten by insects then this could potentially be the reason why. However, it is still best not to take any chances, especially when venturing to a completely new region or continent.
Remember to always check with a medical professional first if you are traveling to an area or country where there are tropical insects present so that you can get the best travel advice possible. This is especially important if you are already on any long term medication, pregnant or breast feeding at the time of your journey.
3. Covering Up
As was touched upon in tip number one, covering up your skin in the heat will help to protect it from sun damage and dangerous UVA and UVB rays. Try to wear a hat whenever you are out in direct sunlight because one does not usually apply sun cream to the head. Therefore, your scalp is at a great risk of burning, especially if you are bald. Remind any family members or friends in your group that are traveling with you to protect their head and neck from the sun, especially if they have lighter blonde, ginger or light brown hair. This is because lighter skin tones have far more sensitive skin which can burn more easily in the sun.
Sunglasses are a must when on holiday and abroad in sunny weather, but always look for ones with a UVA and UVB protection sticker on them. Cheaper makes may not be as reliable, for example at local markets abroad. So it is best to take your own pair before you set off on your journey. If you have an expensive pair of sunglasses, then always try to keep them safe in a hard case. I always take a spare cheaper pair of sunglasses with me when I travel abroad in case something happens to the first pair. This way I can rest assured that my eyes can always stay protected from the dangers of the sun.
As was discussed in point one, covering up is very important in the sunshine although this is easier said than done for many. However, when you are by the pool, try to wear a t-shirt or beach cover-up for at least part of the day. Although many people will want to get a great tan when on holiday, one needs to consider the safety of your skin as well.
4. Keep Your Allergies In Check
If you suffer from hay fever then always pack enough medicine for the duration of your trip. I would also recommend taking an extra week’s worth of medication for ‘just in case’ situations too. This will often only be another seven tablets but could be very useful for emergencies or perhaps if something happens to delay your flight or airline company. This way you can stay one step ahead of the crowd and feel prepared and healthy.
The same advice goes for contact lenses if you are a lenses wearer, and for anyone taking regular long term medication too. Always ensure that you have slightly more than you will need so that you are covered in a last minute emergency situation.
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5. Stay Hydrated
Lastly but by no means least, it is vitally important to stay hydrated in hotter weather by drinking lots of still water. It is water alone that can quench your thirst and re-hydrate your body’s cells most efficiently. Fizzy drinks contain high levels of sugar and this can give you a headache in the heat if you drink too many of them. Not to mention that they can also damage your teeth and cause tooth decay.
Certainly, when on holiday most people will have the occasional alcoholic drink as well. Try to enjoy such beverages in the cooler temperatures of the evening because you will be less likely to get dehydrated or to get a headache or migraine from the alcohol at this time. The last thing anyone wants is to have a few too many drinks and to fall asleep in the sunshine, only to wake up to being painfully sun burnt.
If you can, try to sip on water in between your alcoholic drinks as well to stay more alert for the following day. Most of all, enjoy your trip and remember that by putting your safety and health first you will have a far more enjoyable time!