Sunny days, clear skies and warm weather make summer travel ideal. However, make no mistake: there are plenty of pitfalls and traps doors making hot weather travel unpredictable and dangerous. Whether you are planning a road trip with the family or an international flight for a weeklong getaway, heatwaves can complicate your travel and your health unless you plan and prepare in advance.  

“There are numerous ways to reduce the level of risk with extreme heat. The following five pro tips are designed to protect your travel plans and your health as you get ready for a summer of fun,” said Harding Bush, a former Navy SEAL and associate manager of operations for Global Rescue.  

Tip #1: Acclimatization

Being physically safe in a hot environment requires acclimatization to the warmer conditions. Acclimatization is a gradual process that gets your body used to being active in warmer temperatures.

Help your acclimatization process by not setting your air conditioner to the coolest levels. Setting the A/C to a warmer temperature will reduce the difference between the temperature in your home or hotel and the ambient air temperature. 

Tip #2: Hydration

Drink water throughout the day, not just at meals, to avoid dehydration.

“Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions,” said Dave Keaveny, medical operations specialist at Global Rescue. “Be sure not to overhydrate before or during your hike so you don’t wash out important electrolytes. Replacing and maintaining electrolytes is just as important as replacing and maintaining hydration.”

drink water

Eat smaller portions at meals and increase the frequency of your meals. These mini-meals help your metabolism work more efficiently, according to a Cleveland Clinic report.  

Tip #3: Save Activity for Cooler Weather

Reduce your level of physical activity during the hottest times of the day. Shift these activities to earlier or later in the day when the weather is cooler.

“Extend physical activity into the hotter times of the day only as your comfort level allows,” Keaveny said. 

[Related Reading: Summer Water Safety]

Tip #4: Travel Early in the Day

During summer months you should plan your air travel for earlier in the day.

“Afternoon thunderstorms usually accompany hot summer weather and shut down or delay air travel at a higher rate than winter snowstorms,” Bush said. “Thunderstorms build quickly in the Midwest and move rapidly toward the busiest airports on the northeast coast during the most active travel hours during the busiest travel season.”

The late arrivals, departures and cancelations of connecting aircraft through the busiest airports cause a cascade of travel delays lasting for days.

“While traveling during extreme heat, avoid afternoon flight connections in the busier airports like JFK, Newark or LaGuardia and thunderstorm-prone regions like Charlotte and Atlanta,” Bush said.

Tip #5: Maintain Your Vehicle

Extreme heat also affects road travel. Keep your vehicle well maintained and watch the temperature gauge closely, especially if the engine is working harder while towing a boat or trailer. Air conditioning also stresses the engine so resist the urge to turn the air conditioning on full blast. The temperature of the asphalt road can be twice the ambient air temperature, and the friction between the tires and road causes even more heat increasing the likelihood of a blowout.  

Here are some additional summer travel tips to safeguard a trip:

  • Do your research first, and be sure to check multiple reviews from several sources.
  • Book as early as possible to get the best options, discounts and deals.
  • Be certain to read the fine print of your travel plans including flights, ground transportation, lodging and health requirements.
  • Watch out for overpacking; it is the leading mistake travelers make year after year.

Although the impacts of the pandemic are easing, the biggest concerns among travelers include COVID-19 infection, being quarantined, civil unrest, accidents and trip cancellation.

Getting to destinations may be a challenge, too.

“Flight schedules remain thin and available seats are in short supply. Additionally, the TSA is facing significant staff shortages, making it difficult to keep up with the increasing number of air travelers,” Bush said. “Balancing these variables can be difficult.”

Smart travelers obtain travel protection services, including Cancel For Any Reason insurance and medical evacuation services, before embarking on a long-awaited vacation or getaway. It is the best way to travel with peace of mind.