Packing for the desert:  tips for your first time in a hot country

Whether it is a city break to an exciting destination such as Dubai, a relaxing holiday in a luxury resort, or a more adventurous trek across the desert terrain, packing for that very first trip to a hot country can be a nightmare.

Dubai sunset (Creative Commons)
Dubai sunset (Creative Commons)

Picking up heatstroke, sunstroke or sunburn, or becoming dehydrated, are all surefire ways of ruining a holiday and, unfortunately, there are still far too many US tourists visiting scorching, desert destinations without taking any of the extreme conditions into consideration.  A big mistake!  Even for those about to take a holiday in the most cosmopolitan of resorts, it is still essential to be prepared for every eventuality.  As well as planning the perfect wardrobe, it is vital for holidaymakers to consider the effect that the beating sun and relentless heat will have upon their bodies, and to pack accordingly.

Don’t forget .. tips for packing your desert suitcase

First things first.  Sun-seekers should consider a capsule wardrobe for their holiday, including a number of key pieces to keep them cool and confident throughout their stay.  Light, pale, and floaty fabrics such as linen are fantastic for warmer climates; loose-fitting trousers and long-sleeved shirts are particularly good at helping the air to circulate, keeping bodies cool and comfortable.  For those taking a trek across the desert, jeans or similarly thick trousers are ideal, as are long shirts, as these will protect limbs from scratches and scrapes.  Finally, holidaymakers must not forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, as well as suitable footwear depending on the activities they will be undertaking while on their desert getaway.

Before traveling, the discerning tourist must be sure to research the area’s rules and regulations regarding clothing.  Certain countries will expect tourists to stay covered up.  While it may be possible to get away with a bikini or swimming trunks in the resort, how much skin will the locals be tolerant of?

Desert Safari, Dubai by Robert Paul Young
Desert Safari, Dubai by Robert Paul Young

Skin care

As well as keeping cool it is essential, of course, for anyone heading into the desert climate to remember to take good care of their skin.  High factor sunscreen and after sun lotion are absolutely key to keeping skin burn-free and cool, while lotions taken in travel size bottles, such as Vitamin C serum, will help to keep skin looking great, and feeling healthy, as the sun hits its peak.

Coping with the heat

When it comes to coping with the heat it is important for holidaymakers to try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm local time, ensuring they are protected from the most harmful rays of the day.  It is often a good idea to explore indoor attractions, take a catnap, or simply relax in the shade at these times; there will be plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors during the early morning and evening.

Lastly, it is absolutely essential to keep hydrated – and that does not mean consuming as many cocktails as possible during happy hour!  Bottled water is an absolute must, so anyone thinking of taking a break amongst the dunes must remember to keep a ready supply on their person, and in their room, at all times.