Will Rodgers State Beach, Santa Monica, California. April 2014.
Whether or not one believes that the climate is changing to extremes, I am pretty sure we all agree that summer temperatures are getting a bit crazy. From news stories to magazine articles, this fact seems to be everywhere. I’m a SoCal girl, so I’m pretty much programmed to be all about the sun all the time. However, as temperatures skyrocket and the sunshine beats hard all over the world for longer and longer periods, the plain and simple fact comes down to one fact: sun exposure is way, way up.
But what does this have to do with travel?
Well simply, traveling usually makes people be outside for more than their normal amount, so not only is the sun out more but, as a traveler, you are out in it for a longer period of time.
So, what is the best way to protect yourself?
A few easy steps to add to your daily travel to-dos will save you the worst of what happens when you are over exposed:
First, I don’t care what you are doing, where you are going, or what the weather is like when you get there: WEAR SUNSCREEN! I’m talking everyday. To cover a person’s entire body, you should use approximately a shot glass worth of sunscreen, reapplied every few hours, especially if you have been sweating or are in and out of water. My best advice is to put on your first layer before you even get dressed in the morning, this way you cover everything and it has time to set before you are running out the door.
The sun does not need to be beating down on you 24/7 for you to get burned. More people get burned and with higher intensity when it’s overcast, not necessarily because of higher intensity but the heightened chance that people are not protecting themselves! There are tons of brands, levels of protection, and methods of applications. I like real lotion over sprays; sprays tend to layer over each other and then peel oddly but are easier to apply while lotions take longer and are heavier but have the added bonus of being lotions—they sink into your skin and keep your moisture up.
Wearing sunscreen goes double for your face. Makeup, no matter the amount of SPF it says it has, is not enough coverage for all day wear. There are light sunscreens made specifically for the sensitive skin on people’s faces and they layer very nicely under most foundations. If you are prone to oily skin, I suggest looking for oil free versions and carrying a few napkins in your bag as easily disposable blotting cloths.
Second bit of advice is to wear protective gear, specifically hats and sunglasses. You can’t apply sunscreen to every part of your scalp or your eyes so the best protection is to cover them. This can be really fun when traveling; pick fun styles in neutral colors and you can really amp up your travel wardrobe for both glasses and hats (but we’ll get into that when we talk about packing). Also having light longer layers that can block the sun from direct contact (especially if you have a paler complexion and are easily burned) will help, especially if you have still healing burns. This is also a great time to add the benefit of Aloe Vera; it’ll help heal any burns that you may accidentally acquire and hydrate your skin (fresh is better but not really practical for travel needs)
Third, stay hydrated. This has a bit to do with skin care—full hydration means less chance of your skin drying out—but more to do with overall health. If you aren’t hydrating, you are increasing your chances of getting heat stroke or any number of problems that can seriously screw up your travel plans. I mean, do you really want to miss a few days of travel all because you refused to drink enough water?
I really mean these tips, too. When my mom was traveling in her late teens, early twenties with her best friend, all they packed were shorts, tank tops, and tanning oil. Most of their trip centered on the Sydney coast of Australia which is a really lovely part of the world but also the home to a slowly growing hole in the ozone—not a great addition to sunbathers. As the stories go, the traveling besties sent day after day running around seeing the sights but always ended on a beach or poolside soaking up the lovely rays. Then they spent one day entirely in the sun, just getting a little pink before they had to jump on a bus to their next stop and a concert and festival that awaited them. Half way there a little old lady pointed out that the girls were sunburned and that it was looking pretty bad. That night, the girls poured themselves into bed, miserable with sun poisoning. They not only had to miss a few days of their vacation and the events there because later. Today my mom still has scars and sun spots from a trip she took two decades ago, all of which could have been avoided with proper clothes, skin care, and some of today’s knowledge.
So be safe, until next time,
I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.