Packing lists serve as a strategic roadmap for travelers, guiding them through the essentials needed for a stress-free journey. Take our previous Costa Rica packing guide, for instance. There are 27 micro-climates in that country, and so the list of things you would need for a comfortable trip reflects that.
At the same time, however, there are certain staples that need to be on your packing list no matter the destination – namely, sun protection. There’s a common misconception that you only need sun protection in tropical climates or during summer. But actually, it’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not sunlight, that damages your skin, causing sunburn, premature aging, eye damage, and at worst, skin cancer. Though we can’t see or feel UV rays, they pose a constant threat year-round regardless of the season or what country you’re in.
Whether your journey takes you to sun-drenched coastal towns, bustling urban centers, or serene mountain retreats, keeping your skin safe from the sun’s rays is a universal necessity. So, below are essential items to help you start building your sun protection packing list that you can bring with you anywhere.
Sun protection essentials to bring on every trip
Table of Contents
Sunscreen is a universal travel essential that provides crucial protection against harmful UV rays. Studies show that regular daily use of SPF 15 to 30 sunscreen can lower your skin cancer risk by as much as 50%. Whether you’re lounging on a tropical beach in Thailand, or trekking in the mountains of Costa Rica, incorporating sunscreen into your routine is vital for maintaining skin health and minimizing the long-term impact of sun exposure.
If you’re on the market for a sunscreen you can take everywhere, we recommend avoiding formulations that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are toxic to marine life and are banned in Hawaii, the Florida Keys, Cancun, Aruba, and the Virgin Islands. Instead, opt for mineral-based sunscreens like Maui Naturals Surfer Honey All Natural Sunscreen Lotion with SPF 30.
Sunglasses are essential for any destination as they offer more than just style. They provide eye protection against detrimental UV rays, reducing the risk of eye damage and discomfort. Sunglasses are a must if you’re in a snowy mountain region like Glacier National Park in Montana where sunlight reflects off the snow, or on a beach in the Bahamas surrounded by sand and water. Plus, they enhance visibility, allowing you to navigate various environments confidently.
To get the most out of your sunglasses, make sure that they offer UV 400 protection for virtually 100% protection from UV rays. For glasses wearers, it’s best to choose prescription sunglasses like Ray-Ban’s Round Metal or Clubmaster frames, both of which are sleek, travel-friendly, and can be customized with your prescription, so you don’t have to worry about carrying two different pairs when traveling.
Just as sunscreens come with an SPF rating, sun-protective clothing has its own numerical indicator called ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). UPF-rated garments undergo a special treatment designed to keep UV rays from reaching your skin, reducing the risk of sunburn and long-term damage. This type of clothing provides an additional layer of defense against the sun’s intense rays, offering comprehensive coverage for exposed skin. Whether you’re in a tropical paradise or an arid desert, wearing sun-protective clothing ensures a proactive approach to safeguarding your skin, making it a valuable asset for travelers in any destination.
Adequate hydration not only helps regulate body temperature but also supports the skin’s natural defenses against sun damage. Carrying a water bottle like the collapsible Platypus Flexible Water Bottle guarantees that you always have a way to replenish fluids, reducing the risk of dehydration and promoting general well-being under the sun. Proper hydration complements other sun protection measures, contributing to a well-rounded approach to staying safe in diverse travel environments. Moreover, it can save you money on bottled water, which can be expensive in cities like Amsterdam.
These essentials form an indispensable defense against sun-related risks. By making sun protection a non-negotiable component of every travel plan, you not only embrace a proactive approach to health but ensure that each adventure remains vibrant and memorable, unmarred by the avoidable effects of sun exposure.