Filed under: top-feature, Travel Tips - General Information
Surviving Summer: Houston
Recently, PlanetEye Traveler’s own Abbie Mood posted an article in the Budget Travel Guide – 8 Tips for Packing Light.¬† It got me thinking about what people traveling to Houston might need specifically, especially as the summer months bring on the heat and humidity.¬† Here are some of my top suggestions for packing your bag for a summer getaway to Houston, TX.
Sun protection should be a no-brainer year-round for travelers heading south, but it is particularly important in Houston.¬† Even on an overcast day you can get a sunburn, which I learned a few weeks ago at the Art Car Parade; one thin layer of SPF 15 was not enough for 5 hours outside,¬†and I had some sore shoulders the next day.¬† If¬† you hate the smell of sunscreen there are natural options on the market now (Burt’s Bees makes a good one) but I use Lubriderm Daily Moisture with SPF 15, which smells¬†and feels fresh and light.¬† Lotions with SPF already in them are a good way to save room when you travel, and it’s great for those of us who are not as good at getting into the sunscreen habit.¬† Neutrogena makes a line of spray-on sunscreens that are perfect for travel, and they offer SPF protection up to 100.¬† An added bonus of these spray-on sunscreens is that they go on fairly¬†dry and don’t need time to absorb,¬†so they don’t add to the stickiness¬†caused by¬†Houston humidity.¬†
Wearing sunglasses is also important to protect your eyes (and the skin around them) and a hat is helpful to further¬†shield your face from the strong rays of the sun.¬† It might be the perfect opportunity to invest in that cowboy hat as a vacation souvenier/face-saver!
Rain Gear and Preparations
Last week we had a couple of solid days of rain in Houston.¬† In fact, the rainstorms were so fast and furious that even the roads in the city were flooding.¬† Flash flooding can occur when the rain comes down faster than it can be properly drained and absorbed by storm drains¬†and soil.¬† If you are renting a car during your Houston trip, ask the rental company about flash-flood¬†safety measures¬†as well as coverage for water damage.¬† Pack rain gear for your trip, but rather than¬†keep it¬†in your hotel room, leave it in a bag in your car so are ready for a sudden storm.¬† A light raincoat and an umbrella should do, but I have to say I am also a fan of galoshes when it gets extremely wet.¬†
If it does rain while you are driving and the roads flood, don’t panic.¬† Try to avoid heavily flooded roads, but if you can’t, go slowly and get to higher ground as soon as you can.¬† Get out of the car only¬†if it stalls; you are much safer in the car than outside of it.¬†¬†Additional flood-safety related driving tips can be found¬†here.
Planning for Air Conditioning
If you are coming to Houston during the summer you can’t forget your sweater or jacket!¬† Yes, you read that right – I said make sure to pack long-sleeves for your summer trip to Texas.¬† Because the city is so very hot and humid, buildings are air-conditioned to the hilt.¬† Museums, theaters, restaurants, and other indoor attractions with the A/C set to 65¬†¬įF feel great when you first walk in, but can become uncomfortably cool in a short period of time.¬† I always carry a cardigan or jacket, and sometimes even a little scarf in my bag or pocket to ward off air conditioning shock.
GPS systems and mapping functions on our phones are great tools, but I have learned that a smart traveler is a traveler with a map in hand.¬† Phone batteries die, GPS systems fritz out, and beyond technical error, sometimes these tools are just plain wrong.¬† Even online mapping tools have steered me wrong in the past, sending me north when I should have been going south, or telling me to take a left when I should have taken a right.¬† Last¬†summer my parents and I spent 30 minutes driving around the same four blocks in Rochester, NY because the navigation system in the car could not account for a neighborhood cul-de-sac.¬† Better safe than sorry, I say: shell out the $10 for a gas-station map as backup and you will probably thank me later.
Photo credit: Joshua Payne