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TPG's best tips for traveling during a heat wave

July 20, 2022
5 min read
people outdoors
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Cities across Europe are experiencing a historic heat wave, with England reporting an all-time high of 104.4 degrees at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) on July 19, exceeding the previous record by three degrees. A United Kingdom government agency issued an official warning, saying it is "important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”

France is also experiencing record-high temperatures, with multiple cities exceeding 100 degrees this week; the southern town of Biscarrosse reported a temperature of 109 degrees.

Temperatures in the U.S. are also reaching extreme heights this summer. Extended periods of triple-digit temperatures are occurring in areas across the South and Southwest.

If you're planning to visit any of these record-hot areas or other typically warm regions, it's best to follow some basic health-conscious and comfort tips when traveling.

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Avoid peak sun hours

(Photo by Laurie Noble/Getty Images)

When traveling, it's wise to stay indoors during the height of the midday heat and escape the worst of the daily temperatures. There's a reason why residents of many Mediterranean and Latin American countries partake in the midday siesta tradition: It's too hot to get anything done outside.

If you're planning a day in the park, find some shady sections for your picnic. The sun can be deceptively strong — particularly on windy days when you may not feel the rays' effects until you wake up the next day with a terrible sunburn.

Keeping out of the sun isn't just important for your comfort and travel enjoyment; it can be a critical health factor. The U.S. National Weather Service publishes a guide with hot-weather safety tips which says that "heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year."

Particularly when embarking on ambitious travel adventures, such as all-day city walking tours or hikes to famous viewpoints, it's important to take heat into account. Apply some common-sense recommendations. "Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day," the NWS advises.

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When traveling, you don't have to completely eliminate outdoor activities — just dial them back a bit. "Balance your time outdoors and try to stay inside at the height of sun," Dr. Jenny Yu, head of medical affairs at Red Ventures website Healthline Media, recommends.

In some European countries unaccustomed to extreme heat, air conditioning may be unavailable in some hotels, rental homes and restaurants. On especially hot days, it might be a good choice to visit major indoor tourist attractions, such as museums, that offer climate-controlled systems.

Related: Can it get too hot to fly a plane safely?

Stay hydrated

(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

High temperatures and intense sunlight can be downright dangerous. Dehydration, sunstroke and heat exhaustion can send tourists to the hospital. Perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent emergency situations is staying hydrated.

During this especially hot summer, it's a good idea to supplement with the occasional Gatorade-type beverage in addition to filling your water bottle. "Stay hydrated, but also remember to keep electrolytes balanced — more than just water, it's good to have electrolyte-enhanced water," advises Yu. It's healthier to eschew the sugary electrolyte beverages and go for the unsweetened or lightly sweetened options.

If you can find a public fountain or water park to cool off, dive right in — just mind the local regulations, as American tourists have been cited for frolicking in historic landmarks. Also, be careful when swimming in unfamiliar waters: Britain has reported a series of drownings (in both lakes and the sea) amid the current heat wave.

Related: The best hotel pools

Wear cool clothing

(Photo by Jena Ardell/Getty Images)

Your wardrobe can help you stay comfortable and safe when traveling during hot weather. "Wear loose clothing," Yu recommends. Bring shirts and pants that allow airflow, protect against sunlight and are light enough to not be burdensome.

"Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight," the NWS writes in its heat advisory notice. It's also important to wear "clothes that cover as much skin as possible to protect against permanent skin damage," Western Australia's health department writes in an advisory to travelers. "Use long sleeves, pants and skirts in a lightweight, loose-fitting fabric to provide protection for the sun."

Headwear is important too. "Wear a well-vented, wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, head, neck and ears from the sun," the Australian health advisory says.

TPG's guide to packing for cruises also applies for general summer travels. Bring comfortable clothes that are versatile enough to wear both for touring outdoors and dining indoors. Consider that even in a hot-weather location, some indoor spaces may be overly air-conditioned, so bring a light sweater for those circumstances.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees