When leaving a cold climate, it can be quite confronting and overwhelming when you breathe in and experience the heat that greets you at your next destination. Depending on the place in Australia that they land and the season in which they arrive, it is quite common for international visitors from cold climates to be surprised and take time to adjust to the Australian heat.
There are a number of actions you can take to help you make the most of your travels in hot climates, while being healthy and comfortable.
1: Stay hydrated on your Australian tour
First and foremost, it is essential that you stay well hydrated when travelling in countries with hot climates. As you partake in all of the exciting adventures and activities that will make up a memorable holiday in Australia (perhaps you will take a Melbourne tour, sail around Sydney Harbour, visit some of Queensland’s stunning beaches and go wine tasting in South Australia), be sure to have plenty of water with you. While it may be readily available wherever you are, carrying your own water ensures you are not left thirsty and at risk of dehydration. As well as carrying water, ensure that you sip often — not feeling thirsty is one of the first signs of dehydration.
Remember that in places like the Australian outback, where extreme temperatures are experienced, a person may need as much as 10 litres of water per day to stay hydrated.
2: Avoid heat exposure
In hot climates, it is important not to overexert yourself in the heat. You should stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the day (which is 10am to 4pm) and seek refuge and the opportunity to stay cool in the shade or in air conditioning. You can further reduce your risk of heat exposure by dressing comfortably in light clothing and wearing a hat with a wide brim. Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 should be worn and reapplied at least every two hours — or more frequently if you partake in water-based activities.
If exhausted from the heat — and this can happen quite quickly if a person is from a colder climate and not used to the sun and its heat — a person may show the following signs:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Urinate more frequently than usual
- Excessive sweating
- Weak pulse
- Damp, pale skin
- Mild disorientation or generally being ‘out of sorts’.
If a travelling companion or anyone else exhibits these signs, assist them to sit down in the shade and take sips of water. With rehydration and rest a person usually overcomes heat exhaustion quickly, but medical help should be sought if symptoms do not abate.
3: Be mindful of symptoms of heat stroke
Heat stroke can occur suddenly and is more serious than heat exhaustion. With heat stroke a person may have a headache, high temperature, rapid pulse and/or hot, dry skin. A person experiencing these symptoms should be taken to a hospital and it is particularly important that professional medical help is obtained if they are vomiting or lose consciousness.
4: Be safe with food and drinks on your tour
Travellers from cold climates often experience (and are inconvenienced) by diarrhoea early in their holiday in a hot climate. After planning and looking forward to your Australian holiday, the last thing you want is to have your Great Ocean Road tour, trip to Uluru or far north Queensland hindered by discomfort, pain and frequent trips to the toilet.
If you do experience diarrhoea, medicines can help to reduce pains and cramps and consumption of fluids and electrolytes will rehydrate you as well as help you to recover quickly.
The guidelines for food safety that are followed in colder climates should continue to be followed in hot climates, but remember that in very warm temperatures (usually over 30 degrees Celsius), food starts to spoil in less than one hour. The general rule is to think carefully about what you intend to consume, where it has come from and how it has been prepared. While Australia generally enjoys high standards of food hygiene, if you are doubtful, do not eat or drink it.
While holidays in hot climates offer wonderful opportunities to engage in activities that may be different from those on offer at home, it is important that travellers are vigilant and protect themselves from the harmful impacts of excessive heat.