Beat the Heat: What to Pack for Warm Weather Vacations

Fred Perrotta

Despite growing up in western Pennsylvania, I never acclimated to freezing winters or humid summers.

I prefer the temperate climate of Northern California.

Not wanting to miss out on warm weather vacations, I’ve adapted my packing list to make the hot weather bearable.

Below is what I pack to stave off the heat. Let us know what you pack in the comments.

Bandana or Buff

Merino wool buff with UV protection

When the sun is beating down, you may need more protection than sunscreen can offer.

Keep the sun off your skin with a bandana or a buff.

Either option can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun.

As a bonus, they can both be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Her Packing List has a great run down of the benefits of a buff.

When I felt overheated in the 100+ degree temperatures of the California desert at Coachella, I soaked my bandana in cold water then tied it back around my head. The relief was instantaneous.

Soak your bandana or buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.

The Right Fabrics

Women's Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt

Thankfully, performance fabrics and high-quality wools are now readily available and often stylish.

Specialized clothes aren’t cheap but at least they don’t make you look like a middle-aged man on safari anymore.

To keep cool, look for lightweight wools and moisture-wicking performance fabrics.

Icebreaker’s Featherweight or Ultralight lines are 90-100% wool but extremely lightweight. Both are expensive but will keep you cool in the heat and can be worn as base layers in warmer temperatures.

Best of all, they can be worn for a few days without smelling like it.

Moisture-wicking performance fabrics are a cheaper alternative. Nike Dri-Fit and Under Armour HeatGear are both good options that I often wear to the gym.

The usual caveat with performance fabrics applies double when you’re sweating: they stink.

These fabrics will wick the sweat away from your body but will quickly start to smell. Just make sure to give them a quick wash at the end of the day if you plan to wear them again soon.

If need something more stylish, consider linen, seersucker, or a lightweight chambray. Every mainstream clothing brand sells shirts and shorts in these fabrics at summertime.

Sunglasses

Knockaround Fort Knocks Tortoise Shell

You can spend any amount that you’re comfortable with on sunglasses. From a few dollars at a convenience store to hundreds of dollars on designer shades.

To hedge against breaking or losing my glasses, I like to keep my costs low. I wear Knockaround sunglasses. Knockaround carries a few simple styles and everything is under $30, even glasses with polarized lenses.

Summer Shoes

Men's Sperry Boat Shoes

In summer, you have to walk the fine line between weight and comfort. Heavily padded sneakers are comfortable but will leave your feet and socks soaked in sweat.

The lightest option is a pair of flip flops. If you’re in an underdeveloped country with tropical weather, everyone will be wearing flip flops. You’ll fit right in.

If you don’t want to show off your feet, choose a shoe with more coverage. Sandals, boat shoes, and espadrilles are all good options.

If blisters are a concern in your shoes, grab a pair of no show socks to protect your feet without looking like the dorky tourist in sandals and high socks.

Water Bottle

0.75L Camelbak water bottle with bite valve

Drinking water is good for you, especially when you’re in hot climates where you’ll be sweating out everything you drink.

You can buy bottles as you travel. Refilling them is less wasteful than continually buying (and throwing away) plastic bottles.

To be even more environmentally friendly, bring your own bottle. Jeremy likes the Vapur, which can be flattened and rolled up when empty, saving on packing space.

The Wirecutter likes Klean Kanteen among other good options.

I’ve been using a Camelbak (the kind with the bite valve) since I got a free one and liked the design.

The bottle you choose isn’t important. The fact that you aren’t throwing away dozens of plastic bottles is what matters.

What to Buy When You Land

Most toiletries and small items can be bought at your destination. If you buy them at home, you will pay more money and will have to pack them, get them through security, and carry them halfway around the world.

Save money and hassle by buying them after you land.

You can pick up sunscreen and even ice packs after arrival.

In tropical climates you may also need mosquito repellant and a mosquito net. Google your destination to see if these are necessary.

One Last Thing

Don’t forget to search for a hotel, hostel, or apartment with air conditioning. Unless you want to rough it.

Most accommodation search sites will have a filter or checkbox for AC. Take advantage of it.

TL;DR Packing List

When traveling in warm weather, shield yourself from the sun with breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics. Consider a summer-weight shoe and don’t forget you sunglasses.

Here’s what to add to your regular packing list:

What else do you bring for warm weather vacations? What do you leave at home?

Images: Thomas Galvez (Flickr), Buff USA, Knockaround