Everyone loves the sun. Sun exposure is good for your health. It gives you vitamin D. However, you only need an average of 10 minutes of sun exposure a few times per week to reap these benefits. But what about traveling?
Too much sun during travel can cause premature aging, damage your DNA, and increase your risk of skin cancer. In the immediate future, it can ruin the rest of your travel, making it difficult to shoulder your backpack or wear that striking new travel outfit because of unwanted sunburn lines.
The biggest risks of inadequate sun protection during travel are sunburn and heat sickness. Sunburns cause temporary damage to your skin, and they can happen even when it’s snowing. Cloudy days or skiing in the middle of winter when the sun is peeking through should still be accompanied by things like long sleeves and regular sunscreen.
Heat sickness can be much worse, including fever, chills, nausea, exhaustion, rash, and cramps. While sunburn can be incredibly painful during the rest of your travel, heat sickness can sweep you off your feet and prevent you from seeing the sites you waited so long to see.
You should apply sunscreen on a regular basis, no matter where you are traveling. You don’t have to be on vacation to use sunscreen. Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher can protect you from UVA and UVB light. Without sunscreen, especially on sensitive areas like your face and neck, you expose yourself to deeply penetrating rays that can cause sunburns, wrinkling, and skin cancer.
- Reapply sunscreen every hour.
- If you are swimming, exercising, sweating heavily, or doing anything else that might result in the sunscreen wearing off or getting wiped off early, apply it again.
- Make sure you cover every part of your body thoroughly, including things like the tops of your eyes and your ears, and for people with a part in their hair, the scalp.
You can’t very well put sunscreen over your eyeballs, but you can protect them. Sunglasses are the best way to protect your eyes from long-term UV exposure. When you wear UV-blocking sunglasses make sure to reapply sunscreen around the ears and eyes because it’s more likely to get wiped off if you take your glasses on and off regularly.
Even when you wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes and apply sunscreen regularly, it’s easy to miss a spot or to forget to reapply. Simple mistakes or delays can result in severe sunburns that ruin the rest of your trip.
Choose lightweight & long-sleeved shirts and pants when you are out, under the sun all day. When you are traveling, going in and out of museums or restaurants, you end up spending more time outdoors than you normally would. Most people forget to consider the walks to and from public transit or the time spent walking across a city from one location to the next.
You can protect yourself by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses for your eyes and UV-blocking or long sleeve shirts and pants.
- Lightweight summer shirts and pants can protect your skin even when you forget to put on sunscreen.
Don’t forget to wear hats. Hats protect the top of your head and provide shading for your eyes, face, and neck. A wide-brimmed, breathable hat is preferable because it gives you the widest amount of coverage, protecting your face, ears, neck, and shoulders. Barring that, you can bring an umbrella and use it as a parasol if you don’t own a parasol. This can be a viable alternative for people who are regularly visiting churches or other institutions that don’t allow you to wear hats indoors.
- If you plan to travel in the heat of the day, consider attaching a cloth underneath a baseball cap to protect your neck.
Sun exposure is different throughout the day. Each hemisphere has peak hours when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you can, limit your sun exposure during peak hours while traveling. Something as simple as staying in a museum, in your hotel, or at a restaurant for some quick relaxation and refreshment can prevent a sunburn that sticks with you for the rest of your trip and causes unnecessary pain.
- Peak hours are between midday and early afternoon.
- If you have to move around outside during peak hours, be sure to hydrate, have long sleeves and sunglasses, and take a lot of breaks in the shade.
- Reapply sunscreen if you are sweating a lot.
- If you have to be in the sun, stay hydrated. You should drink water before you feel thirsty and be sure to compensate for any excess sweating or exercise you do while traveling.
Overall, sun exposure is very dangerous. All it takes is one extreme sunburn to not only cause great pain and discomfort during your travel but also increase your risk of skin cancer. When you wear UV-blocking sunglasses, apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit your sun exposure, you can go a long way toward protecting yourself.