I never realised the impact heat had upon our mental stability and tolerance until I travelled with kids.
And I never realised how much the heat impacted children until I travelled with kids.
As someone who hates the cold, I welcome the heat in like a long lost friend – even when it’s baking 40 degrees. But, when I’m travelling with my kids, I ask it to leave more often than I would travelling solo.
I think it almost trumps being tired as the number one thing that will create meltdowns. (You can read about the meltdown Kalyra had in the most important temple in Thailand here.)
That was heat AND tired generated.
The heat reduces tolerance levels so you can get highly agitated and antsy quite quickly.
There are other things to contend with when the heat comes out as well: flies that tip you off the edge of sanity with their constant pestering to climb up your nose and in your mouth; biting mossies and midges; sunburn; stickiness; and stinky sweat.
The girls start whining like banshees, which only adds to the list of irritants, mostly because I want to lay down and whine like a banshee too.
But parents can’t do that sort of thing.
There were times in Broome I could have happily whipped off my clothes and walked around naked. Everything I put on seemed to stick to my skin and add ten degrees to my body. And this was at a time when other places in Australia had snow dumps.
Craig and I have spent some summer months in Broome, and the heat is brutal. It takes all your effort to walk ten minutes to the store. You soon give that up and spend the rest of the day getting grandma skin in the swimming pool.
So my first tip for travelling with kids in the heat is don’t visit Broome in the summer.
A reader recently asked a question:
“How do you manage travelling in the heat with kids? How do you go sleeping? How can you be bothered cooking? I’m a bit precious when it comes to the heat and I’m dreading it for when we do our big lap.”
Such a great idea to want to prepare for this before you leave on your Australian road trip.
Here are my suggestions:
Tips for travelling in the heat with kids
1. Choose your destination wisely
Be very careful of where you travel to, but mostly when. The top end of Australia is an absolute no go during summer with kids. I’d consider that a waste of time and money.
Be careful of any tropical region. April in Thailand is the hottest I’ve ever been. It really depends on your children and their ages, but I’d carefully consider it.
2. Know your children
What is the temperament of your child? What sets them off? How do they manage heat in your own home town? Do they love being outdoors? Are they happy to have quiet moments inside?
It’s important to know how they tick, their interests, and where the meltdowns might happen so you can put some preventative strategies in place. This will help you decide the best destinations, the activities to do, and when you should bring them for a laydown and a movie.
3. Stay hydrated
Even if you don’t feel thirsty drink, and ensure your children are taking sips of water every ten minutes. They will dehydrate quicker. Forget juices and soft drinks, it will only dehydrate them further.
I find coconut water is the bomb for rehydration.
4. Time your activities well
Get up and out as early as you can to do your activities, particularly if it involves hiking. 10am is when the heat starts to kick in, although in the top end it never goes away.
During the heat of the day escape to your inside activities or just rest in your accommodation. Evenings are best spent lapping up the cooler air outside with an amazing sunset and a barbie.
5. Stay in an apartment or hotel
If your kids have the wrong temperament, or are really suffering, stay in accommodation that has air conditioning. This tip is mostly for those doing the camping experience.
Or, if you have a caravan with AC your sweet.
6. Know your kids’ signs
Flushed faces, glazed and droopy eyes, curt replies, I can tell pretty quickly if we are going into heat-affected meltdown. Once I see the signs, I spring into action. Water, food, sit down and rest. Move to a shade or cooler area.
Plan to wrap up the activity and go home and rest. If you can’t do that rest in the shade somewhere until they find their strength. Look for a sprinkler or water to cool themselves down.
Although when we went to the Australian Open this year on a baking 43-degree day, our girls were rudely chased away from the water fountain by the security guards. For some reason, they preferred to deal with heat stroke in children then let them cool down with little splashes of water #AusOpenFail
If you start noticing symptoms such as muscle cramps, tiredness, nausea, vomiting – even an altered mental state, head to the AC as soon as you can and start cooling them down.
7. Head to the water
Find swimming water wherever you can. Stay in campsites or apartments that have them, or look for nearby beaches, rivers or swimming holes.
Note: If you are in the Top End of Australia, you must find out where it is safe to swim. Crocs are everywhere.
8. Eat light, healthy meals
Stock up on fruits, nuts, yoghurts, vegetable sticks, and other light snacks. Indulge in a refreshing ice cream every now and then. I rarely have them, but I did a couple of times in Broome. (here are some of the best places for ice-cream in Australia)
BBQ’s are really easy in the heat and goes well with salad.
If you do cook a meal, then make enough for left overs. I eat quinoa a lot so I cook up a big batch, and then I’ve got it ready for my meals through the week.
You can easily throw in some veggies for a quick salad. We also have a high speed blender to make smoothies for breakfast – frozen fruit is great to cool you down. We also have a cold-pressed juicer, which substitutes for many lunches – full of greens, light, cool, and full of nutrients.
9. Let in the breeze when you sleep
There’s no doubt the heat can prevent you from having a good night’s sleep. There will be some nights when the fiery stickiness keeps you tossing and turning, but we’ve found them few and far between.
If you choose your travel right to time with the seasons, the nights will generally be cooler and manageable.
We leave all our windows open in the van to let in the cool breeze. We also have a small fan above our beds and if need be, we have a larger fan in the living area of the fan that we will blast. That system works well.
You can always soak face cloths in water and put that over your face if the heat becomes too much.
Want help with family travel planning? Pop your name below for instant access to the free toolkit.
10 Use frozen face coolers
You can buy little face cooler packs that you can pop in the freezer and pop on your face when it gets too much. It’s great to cool down the kids.
11. Have your siestas
Take time out during the heat of the day if you can. Laze around, read books, have quiet time. I always like to take the girls to the movies on the really hot days if there are cinemas nearby.
12. Wear light, loose clothing
Cotton is best for breathing. Lightweight, light-colored clothing is best. Opt for loose-fitting garments that allow air to circulate against the skin.
Your clothes will need to suit where you are travelling too. I don’t find I burn in humid heat, but in dry heat, I do quickly. In that situation, wear clothes that cover most of your skin.
And of course, slip, slop, slap.
13. Drive in the heat of the day
It will use more fuel with your AC drain, but escape the blazing daytime heat by driving from one destination to another. Choose the hottest day of the week to do it. Just pack the car up early so you’re not doing that during the hottest part of the day.
14. Don’t forget you’ll adapt
You will adapt to the heat, so give yourself the space to do that. It will take some time, but pretty soon you’ll find yourself in places where it’s only 31 degrees and you are hesitant about swimming because it feels a little cold today!