Gear and Packing
How to Survive The World's Hottest Travel Destinations
February 12, 2019
There is a huge section of the traveling population that plan their trips around warm weather, chasing sunshine, beaches, sunny days and balmy nights. For them, the heat is something to be embraced rather than avoided.
But there are places in the world that are not just hot – they are very hot.
For these destinations, extra special care must be taken in the planning process to ensure that you are safe and comfortable. From the time of year you choose, to the clothing you bring, and the measures you take to avoid sun overexposure, the earth’s very hottest destinations require unique considerations.
If you are planning a hot trip abroad, don’t get burned in the planning process – be prepared for whatever the heat might bring. Let's breakdown some of these top destinations and how to pack with merino wool travel clothing and sun-safe accessories
The World’s Hottest Destinations
You can find intense heat on pretty much every continent (Antarctica notwithstanding, of course), but there are a few regions that rise above the rest, temperature-wise. If you like your trips and vacations scorching hot, these are the places for you.
The hottest place on earth is El Aziza, Libya, and the hottest inhabited place on earth is Dallol, in Ethiopia. While the latter isn’t technically regarded as North Africa, it’s close enough to the region that you get the picture. Saharan Africa, from Morocco to Sudan, can be blisteringly hot, with a dry, arid quality that many people find punishing. Push past the temperature barriers, however, and you find a wealth of cultural treasures, from the bazaars of Marrakech to the great Pyramids of Giza.
The South of India and Sri Lanka
Despite its sweltering heat, southern Indian destinations like Goa continue to entice global backpackers. It might have something to do with the colourful counterculture, the chill beach lifestyle or the vibrant, fiery cuisine. Sri Lanka, which is a little less traveled, is equally as warm and equally as amazing. Try to avoid monsoon season, which can be uncomfortably wet, or pack some quick-drying Merino clothes for the trip. One of the reasons we started this clothing company (you can learn more about our story here) was to give travelers a handy hack for this kind of hot, wet weather.
One of the quintessential backpacker destinations, Southeast Asia is hot in a few senses of the word – it is sometimes crowded with partygoers, and nearly always warm. Most people are well aware of Thailand’s warm weather charms, but all across the region you will find hot weather, much of it humid. With the humidity comes lush vegetation, tropical rainforests and – unfortunately – muggy city centres. Oh, and mosquitoes. Plenty of mosquitoes.
The Middle East
The Middle East has two seasons, pretty much: winter and summer, sometimes referred to as “hot and hotter”. The southern half of the region, encompassing Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and parts of Israel and Jordan, have a hot desert climate characterized by dryness, very high temperatures and an abundance of sunshine (an average of about 78% of daylight hours).
With distinct wet and dry seasons – the wet runs from June to October, while the dry runs from November to May – the heat in Central America is not static. It is also a pretty diverse region, with hotter weather near the Pacific Coastline, and slightly cooler weather in the mountainous regions. Regardless of its diversity, though, the entire region tends toward a year-round humidity.
The American Southwest
Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth, with average highs in July of 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit), and an insane record high of 57 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit). Arizona also gets blisteringly hot in the summer, to the point where some people in Phoenix have taken to wearing oven mitts when they drive, to avoid burning their hands on the steering wheel!
If you are a traveler, there is a lot to love about Australia – the odd and majestic wildlife, stunning beaches and – you know – the fact that English is spoken. But Australia can be hot. They ended 2018 with a record-breaking heat wave (the New Year being their peak summer), and about ten years ago, in 2009, Southeastern Australia saw one of its worst heat waves ever. Due to its size, temperature does vary quite a bit, but in general the southern part of Australia, with the desert and bush interior, are the hottest areas.
Choosing a Time to Go
Because each country, region, and even city are different, it is always best to consult local forecasts in advance to decide when you want to go. A good way to go about choosing a time is to pick a number – your “ideal” temperature, at which you feel most comfortable – and try to find a month that most closely represents that number. Of course, there is no predicting the weather, but this will get you as close as possible to a temperature you are cool with (pun intended).
Of course, when you choose your time of year, you have to consider other factors. For some regions, a milder time of year might coincide with monsoon or rainy season, so while it might not be unbearably hot, it can be unbearably wet and stormy. To avoid any unwanted surprises, before you book a ticket, take to an online forum or two to check what you can expect of your chosen time and place.
You might also want to travel for a certain festival or event, in which case you need to do some research beforehand. Take a look at our list of holiday festivals from around the world for a good primer on winter festivals, and check back in on this blog in the months to come for more lists on must-see events, festivals and countries.
What to Pack
Where the sun is concerned, it pays to be prepared. If you get the maximum possible enjoyment out of your hot weather travels, pack comfortable clothing, protective gear and plenty of sunscreen. While not an exhaustive list, here are a few must-packs for a trip to a hot country:
It can difficult to lather sunscreen on your scalp (if you have hair, that is), and even if you can, it will never be as effective as a covering. Your head, face and neck see a lot of sun during the day, which is why it is wise to wear some kind of hat. It doesn’t have to be the old fashioned Tilley Hat style – just something that you think amply protects your head and neck.
Sure, David Caruso looks cool when he rips his sunglasses off at the beginning of CSI, but more than just being cool, sunglasses are necessary to keeping your eyes save from UV rays. Travel + Leisure compiled a list of 19 pairs of sunglasses perfect for traveling, which is great place to start looking. You want something with UV protection, and if you are traveling somewhere “bright”, it is best to get a pair with polarized lenses. Past that, just look for a pair that suits your face.
Merino Wool Clothing
Before you hit the heat, check out our collection of travel clothing for men Merino wool clothing is uniquely suited to very hot weather for a number of good reasons:
- Breathability: Merino wool, as opposed to other types of fabric, allows your skin to breathe, making for a cooler, more comfortable clothing item.
- Sweat Wicking: Merino is adept at taking sweat and moisture from your body, and moving it to the surface to be dissipated. With a wicking garment, you won’t get the sweat-drenched look when you are out in the heat.
- Antimicrobial Properties: Because of Merino wool’s antimicrobial properties, it resists odours, staying fresh and pleasant-smelling for much longer than other types of clothing.
- Soft and Non-irritating: The last thing you want, when the temperature reaches blistering highs, is to be itchy, sticky or otherwise uncomfortable. Merino wool is soft, and feels great even in the most extreme weather.
Shorts & Pants
To keep you legs cool, it is best to go with a light pair of pants – nothing overly bulky or weighty. Depending on where you are going, you might also need pants, as some museums, places of worship and restaurants require you to wear a full pant leg. Just be mindful of the cultural dress norms where you are going, and you should be fine.
Again, footwear might be something dictated by local dress norms. Not every country is cool with flip-flops, but the vast majority are. Aside from flip-flops, it’s wise to bring a pair of shoes as well, whether deck shoes, runners or – if you plan on doing challenging walks – a pair of light, breathable hiking boots.
The best way to cool off in a hot country is to hit the water. Many warm destinations happen to be coastal, with plenty of beach options to hit, but if not you can usually find a public or hotel fool to refresh yourself after a blistering day. In any case, it pays to pack some swimwear.
As mentioned, hot weather is no guarantee of dryness. Many hot countries get their fair share of rain, sometimes coming down in flash floods and thunderstorms. While it is no substitute for taking cover, a good quality rain jacket can keep you dry in a pinch. Find a light, breathable one, so as not to overheat.
For packing light, a collapsible water bottle is best. In hot weather, you should always endeavour to stay hydrated, and the best, most ecologically friendly way to do that is to carry a water bottle.
Everybody knows the importance of sunscreen. Whether or not they actually heed that importance is another story. In very hot destinations, sunscreen is imperative, saving you from the deleterious effects of UVA and UVB rays. To protect against both, look for “broad spectrum” sunscreen, and go for one that is at least 30 SPF.
Lotion and Balm
Especially in arid regions such as those with hot desert climates, you should pack some lotion and lip balm to avoid drying out. Dry heat can be hard on your skin, especially your lips. Balm doesn’t take up a lot of room in your bag, and it can be a real godsend.
Safety Tips for Intense Heat Destinations
As mentioned, perhaps the most important thing you can do while traveling in intense heat is stay hydrated. In hot weather, your body aggressively sweats and excretes moisture, and if you aren’t replenishing that moisture by drinking water, your body’s equilibrium gets seriously thrown off. It is recommended that you drink water before you even feel thirsty – thirst is a sign that your body has already lost too much body water composition.
Other than that, sun avoidance is pretty key. When you book a beach vacation, of course you are going to want to spend a good chunk of time outdoors. That’s what you paid for after all. But taking breaks from the sun, especially in very hot weather, is important. Equally important is, when you are in the sun, applying sunscreen regularly. The short-term consequences for a burn are bad enough, but overexposure to the sun can also cause in cancer in the long-term.
Other than that, get your AC where you can, whether it’s in the hotel room or that the local mall, and consider observing the midday siesta – not only does it give your body a chance to rest up, but it takes you out of the sun during some of the hottest hours.
Watch for the warning signs of heat illness, like dizziness, nausea or headaches, and if you feel any negative symptoms, get yourself to a cool area and gulp some cold water down. Always get medical insurance before you take off, just in case something happens, and jot down a few local emergency numbers in your phone.
Sometimes the hottest destinations on earth are also the hottest. If you are planning on traveling to any of the world’s hottest countries, expect the best and plan for the worst. In order to stay healthy, happy, safe and comfortable, pack some breathable Merino wool clothing, limit your sun exposure and have your water bottle and sunscreen handy at all times.