If you’re like many Americans, you don’t get nearly enough vacation — giving you an extra reason to make the most of the experience. You don’t have time to waste dealing with sunburn. Why let possible skin damage derail your plans?
It’s simple enough to take proactive steps to protect your skin and overall health. Why become a grim skin cancer statistic when prevention takes little time or money? Here are five ways to stay sun safe while traveling.
1. Consider Your Venue
Skin protection begins at home. When packing your bags, consider your destination. Are you heading to a lush, tropical escape? A mountainside where the snow reflects and amplifies the sun’s rays? While you should always wear sunscreen, your destination dictates the strength you need, how often you must reapply cream and the other protection you may need for comfort.
Consider the venue and your activities, too. For example, will you participate in outdoor yoga classes at a beach or park? While many facilities feature ample trees and shade structures like gazebos, you can’t count on a covered spot. Fortunately, many more resorts now offer virtual tours, enabling you to inspect the class accommodations before you attend.
2. Wear Sunscreen
It should go without saying that wearing sunscreen is a must. Even if you run a low cancer risk and tend to be cavalier with your health choices, doing so reduces signs of premature aging — let your vanity inspire behaviors that fear of disease does not.
Keep in mind that sunscreen comes in two varieties — which one should you choose? It depends on your unique needs and skin type:
- Chemical sunscreens: use ingredients like avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene and homosalate to absorb UV light.
- Mineral sunscreens: use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for the same purpose.
You might find chemical formulations too itchy if you have sensitive skin. Some varieties contribute to coral bleaching, so use caution if traveling to the ocean. Furthermore, they take up to 30 minutes for maximum effectiveness.
Mineral sunscreens are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores and take effect immediately. However, some people still find them too thick and greasy-feeling. They can also leave a white coating on your skin.
Whichever sunscreen you choose, you should reapply it throughout the day when spending time outdoors. Most experts recommend doing so every two hours, especially if you’ve been swimming or sweating. Are you heading toward the equator or planning considerable exposure? Why not double up with a chemical and mineral model, upping the SPF to keep you covered all day?
3. The Right Hat
Are you among the many women who shun wearing hats because of what it does to your ‘do? Please, work on breaking this mindset. A quality head covering can be one of your best beauty investments, preventing you from squinting — and requiring a fortune in Botox treatments to combat those worry lines.
What should you look for in a sun hat? Comfort reigns supreme — a cap that lies unused on your shelf won’t protect you from the sun. You should also consider your activity level. Will you need a model with a chin strap or string to hold your chapeau in place while you zipline through the forest?
Consider whether you need protection only in the front or around the sides. A simple baseball cap or visor — for the “don’t mess my ‘do” folks — provides coverage for watching sporting events. However, you might feel more comfortable with a wide-brimmed floppy straw hat when spending the day on the beach, lest the glare from the side interfere with your reading pleasure.
4. Remember Your Peepers
You know you should protect your skin, but please remember your eyes, too. Excessive UVA and UVB light exposure increase your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness. Protect your vision for life with the right set of shades.
Look for pairs that block both UVA and UVB light. Here, too, comfort matters. While you want a pair that stays securely on your face, overly tight models that squeeze your ears can give you a headache. Invest in a neck chain so that you don’t lose your shades instead.
5. Dress for Success
The clothes you choose can help keep you sun-safe while traveling in two ways: they protect you from the rays while mitigating body temperature changes.
Are you flying south for the winter? Look for lightweight fabrics such as linen and cotton that let the air pass through while protecting your skin from the sun.
The winter months are a bit trickier. You’ll want to bundle up, which provides a barrier between your skin and the sun. However, you should also use layers so that you can strip down when necessary to avoid becoming overheated, then freezing later:
- First layer: These fabrics should be a blend that wicks moisture away from your body — avoid old-fashioned cotton long-johns.
- Mid-layer: Your insulating layer should consist of fabrics that hold heat without adding weight or bulk. However, you might add an extra vest or fleece for your chest and vital organs.
- Outer layer: Finally, you should include a weather-proof outer layer that keeps the wind and rain from penetrating your other layers.
You probably get precious little vacation time, so stay sun safe. Why waste it nursing a sunburn?
Instead, follow the above tips to stay sun safe while traveling. You’ll experience a more enjoyable journey while safeguarding your health.
See some more of my travel posts here!