This summer was the first time I’ve traveled extensively in I don’t know how many years. I despise traveling in the summer when it’s hot and crowded, but travel plans made it a necessity this year.
The heat (upwards of 95 degrees in Greece and Croatia) really zapped me, but I found a few ways to make it more tolerable.
1. Hang Out in a Park
Every city has at least one shady park, and not only is walking around one a great way to cool off during the hottest part of the day, it’s also a fantastic way to experience a city. I don’t go for visiting a ton of museums; I feel I learn more about a place simply by walking around and observing.
In Athens, I had an afternoon after checking out of my hotel and before needing to go to the airport, so I spent a good hour meandering a cool, shady park and taking photos.
2. Shop in the Air-Conditioned Stores
Personally, being so damn hot makes me not want to shop, but that doesn’t mean I don’t pop into over-air-conditioned stores to cool off. They use the AC as an enticement to sweaty tourists…so take advantage of this! You don’t even have to buy anything.
3. Stop for Restaurant Breaks
As I sweat my way across Athens, it occurred to me that I could change the dynamic of what was quickly becoming a cranky experience. So I found a cute, shaded restaurant and plopped down for an hour. I ordered a beer (or wine or snack) and just relaxed.
This is also a great place for connecting to free wifi and looking at the map to see what else is around…or catching up on your Facebook feed if you are so inclined!
4. Visit a Museum
Again, I’m not a big museumgoer just for the sake of going to a “must-see” museum, but if there’s one of interest, I’ll check it out. Especially between noon and three when the sun is at its hottest.
In Athens, the National Archeological Museum was interesting and kept me busy for several hours. Admittedly, I began to glaze over after reading hundreds of signs about ancient relics, so I just beelined for whatever caught my eye.
This museum has a great cafeteria downstairs, surrounded by even more artifacts. I highly recommend ordering a piece of dark chocolate pie and a fresh-squeezed orange juice (oranges picked from the trees in the courtyard!).
5. Rest Up in Your Hotel Room
There’s no rule that says you have to sight-see from dawn til dusk. Especially since the sun sets a lot later in the summer, particularly in southern Europe. I’d go out in the morning while it was still coolish, then return to my room after lunch for a siesta and maybe a cool shower. Then I’d go out after four when the sun was starting to dip behind buildings and wasn’t as intense.
6. Go for a Swim
If you can plan to stay somewhere by the beach or with a pool, traveling in the summer will be a lot more tolerable. In Perissa, I took a dip every day. It became part of how I enjoyed the island. In Croatia, I was fortunate enough to stay in a house with a pool, so that became a ritual as well.
Any time I’d start to get irritated that I was so effing hot, I’d ask myself what I could do to change it. I wasn’t in a hurry, so having a leisurely drink in a cafe or sitting on a park bench were great strategies to cool off and recenter myself.