/ The Houston Guide
Houston — By Christina Uticone on May 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm
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Surviving Summer: Houston

Photo by Joshua Payne

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

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.¬†

houston, texas, sun protection, sunscreen

The author sports a sunburn the day after Houston's Art Car Parade.

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


  • Tui Cameron says:

    Boy, do I hear you on the sunscreen! When I lived up near Seattle, I’d use SPF 15 lotion like you mention. Down here in Texas, I wear 70 SPF and I still get tan lines. It’s amazing!

    Then, there’s that crazy rain you’ve mentioned. I have a running joke now that, “Hey, I’m from Seattle. I don’t own an umbrella,” because the rain in Texas is just so much heavier.

    Oh – and the sweater issue… It took me a while to realize that a person needs to carry a sweater when the temps are triple digits, especially if you plan to see a movie. Talk about counter-intuitive!

    Great article!

  • Christina says:

    Thanks Tui!

    It’s quite a climate change, huh?

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