Eric Stoen has taken his kids to 58 countries and all 7 continents, and has experienced a wide range of weather, including extreme heat in many destinations. We asked him for his tips for traveling when it’s too hot out for kids to want to do much of anything.
Our vacation windows are defined by the school calendar. We can primarily travel in the summer, and we have shorter breaks in December, February and April. Unfortunately the world’s weather doesn’t always cooperate with our schedule.
We love Europe in the summer, but the continent seems to experience a heat wave every time we visit. We frequently travel through the Middle East during the summer as well, which is never pleasant from a temperature perspective. And this summer we’re in Southeast Asia for three weeks. I don’t think it will be under 95 any day of our trip. And it’s humid! As much as we would like to avoid hot days, we simply can’t. So how do we, and how can you, make the best of it?
Do as much as you can when it’s still cool out. I love walking around at sunrise anyway, and sometimes my kids join me, but we’ll also head to the beach before breakfast to play, or go out for a bike ride, before the sun gets too high in the sky. And of course this has the added benefit of experiencing a destination with fewer people around.
Are there any indoor destinations on your itinerary? Save them for the hottest time of the day. This includes art museums, children’s museums, planetariums, historic buildings (e.g. Florence’s Orsanmichele) and anywhere else out of the sun, as long as there’s not a long outdoor line to get in in the first place!
Hit the Water on Hot Days
Or head to the water to cool off a little. Kayaking and paddle boarding don’t offer much relief from the heat, but whitewater rafting, tubing, water skiing, swimming and diving do.
Take Cooking Classes
We take cooking classes everywhere we go, most recently in Istanbul and Hanoi. If we’re able to, it works well to do them either at 10am leading up to lunch, or starting at 3 or 4pm for dinner. Or there are always non-meal classes, like bread-making or macaron-making, that can be scheduled for any hour. Stay inside and learn new skills!
Have Lots of Water and Ice Cream
Make sure you’re drinking enough (we’ve ended up in hospitals in Hawaii and France with dehydrated kids on hot days), but also cool down with frequent ice cream stops. In Europe there are always people getting gelato in the morning. Do the same! It’s vacation after all. Then get more in the mid-afternoon.
Find Shady Parks and Fountains
If you’re in a mid-size city and there just aren’t museums or water sports to occupy your time, look for parks with shade and playgrounds, and search out fountains. A lot of parks, like Millennium Park in Chicago, have areas with fountains for kids to play in (bring a towel and a change of clothes). And in larger cities, customs are relaxed. Ordinarily people don’t wade into the fountains around Paris’ Louvre museum, but when the temperature approaches 100, it’s a different story.
Most importantly, reduce your vacation expectations and build downtime into your schedule. If you’re pushing your kids to do too much when it’s hot outside, no one is going to have a good vacation. Slow down. Relax in your air-conditioned hotel room for a couple hours after lunch. Recharge. Adults can push through and deal with the heat, but kids can’t.
Do you have other ways to occupy your kids on hot days? Please comment below!
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