Tourists in Heat

Tom Swick: Ten tips for how to stay cool while traveling in an increasingly hot planet. (#2: Choose countries with cold soup.)

07.22.10 | 9:54 AM ET


A lot has been written about the record high temperatures all over the world this summer, but surprisingly little has been said about their effect on tourists. Yet this is tourist season. Not only that, tourists—unlike locals with homes and offices and sense—go out in the midday sun. With just one week in Germany, three days in Mumbai, we have no choice. We can’t camp out in our hotel with a good Kindle; we have to venture forth into the blinding streets.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with 10 helpful tips for travelers in our hot new world:

1) Add “Hot enough for ya?” to your list of useful phrases. Nothing unites people like a good cliché, and being able to say this one, in the language of your host country, will win you scores of admirers.

2) Consider visiting countries famous for cold soup. Spain and France are obvious ones (gazpacho and vichyssoise), but don’t forget the Baltic lands; Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Latvia all serve up a delicious cold borscht. These countries are also good choices because no matter how high the temperature, or how long the day, they’re full of reminders of the Cold War.

3) Always travel with your own ice cubes. Not just for health reasons; some countries simply refuse to make the things.

4) Walk about with a parasol during the day. It gives you protection from the sun and a weapon with which to fend off pickpockets. (Most of whom will not be tempted to get anywhere near someone so eccentric in the first place.)

5) If your hotel doesn’t have air-conditioning, ask about the cost per hour of being fanned by a maid.

6) Connect with the locals by exchanging refreshing drink recipes. For instance, after your new French friends (“Il fait assez chaud pour vous?”) whip you up a panaché (beer and lemonade), you can show them how to make Long Island Iced Tea.

7) Be thankful you’re not on a cruise ship listening to “Hot Hot Hot.” Unless of course you are. In which case, run to your cabin and take a cold shower.

8) The North Africans say that drinking hot tea actually has a cooling effect, in part because it makes you sweat. Tell them you’re already sweating enough, thanks, and you’d like a cherry popsicle.

9) Pack, or download, appropriate chill-inducing reading material, like Barry Lopez’s “Arctic Dreams” or Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” even if you’re going to Death Valley.

10) Don’t go to Death Valley.

Tom Swick

Tom Swick is the author of two books: a travel memoir, Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland, and a collection of travel stories, A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler. He was the travel editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 19 years, and his work has been included in "The Best American Travel Writing" 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2008.

10 Comments for Tourists in Heat

Ben Keene 07.22.10 | 11:12 AM ET

Hilarious. And yet helpful? Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard is another travel read that’s bound to lower your core body temperature. 07.22.10 | 11:59 AM ET

Great advice!  Who knew that drinking hot tea could have a cooling effect.  As always, drinking water is a great way to stay cool.

Uygun Otel 07.22.10 | 2:54 PM ET

Travelling with own ice cubes is a very useful is so important for me.

Olivia Raths 07.22.10 | 6:52 PM ET

Just returned from hot Turkey - and indeed, hot tea has a cooling effect that I haven’t expected at all!
And if it’s still too hot: Go to Iceland, it has a nice cooling effect!
P.S. Is Switzerland one of the countries which refuse to make ice cubes? ;-)

AnaVar 07.23.10 | 8:04 AM ET

You won with the first one!!!

Reeta 07.24.10 | 5:27 AM ET

Hey that’s cool stuff! Amusing and literary :-)

Alabama Travel Guide 07.26.10 | 7:16 PM ET

HAHA I laughed when I saw this.. cool stuff for sure keep it up!

home business 07.27.10 | 9:00 AM ET

Very funny picture it is!

Deborah-Eve 08.01.10 | 6:14 PM ET

Hilarious—and #7 is oh so true!  Love the soup advice and I’m off now to try some hot tea.

John M. Edwards 08.25.10 | 8:34 PM ET

Hi Worldhum:

The Swickman cometh!

John M. Edwards

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