A man holds a travel bag in one hand and a small bottle of sunscreen in the other.

Sun Protection Tips and Tricks for Travelers

If you have a big trip coming up it’s likely you’ll be spending a fair amount of time traveling. However you decide to travel you’ll likely have a roof over your head in transit, so that means your skin is safe right? Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. UV radiation passes right through most car and airplane windows. So from the very start of your trip to the very end, let's discuss how to avoid sunburn on vacation, and yes, that might mean foregoing the window seat.

How to avoid a sunburn on vacation: it starts at the very beginning

Because of COVID many of us have avoided travel for some time, but hopefully, those times are quickly coming to an end. With so many people vaccinated and the new recommendations from the CDC, traveling has again become an exciting option. Personally, I’m planning a couple of trips myself and I’m excited to go on some new adventures. It’s easy to remember the sunscreen when planning to go to the beach, but it’s often forgotten about while en route to your destination. This is especially important on a plane because UV exposure is stronger at higher elevations.

A sun protection routine is key

When it comes to sun protection establishing a safe and healthy travel routine is extremely important. Thankfully, it’s also extremely easy! Here are a few of my personal tips and tricks to ensuring safe and UV exposure-less travel.

Avoid window seats when possible

On a plane, if you have your choice of seat, choose an aisle seat over a window seat. If you have a window seat you can always choose to keep the window shut, or of course, apply sunscreen. In a car, avoiding windows is a little more difficult. Applying sunscreen is an easier option.

Always carry a small bottle of sunscreen with you.

If you are not sure where you’ll be sitting, make sure you have a bottle of sunscreen with you in your carry-on. As long as it’s in a container of 3oz or less, you can carry it in your carry-on bag. If you have an aisle seat you might not need it, but it’s always good to have.

Apply the sunscreen shortly before you plan to board the plane or get into the car

It’s especially important if you’re using a chemical sunscreen that can take 20-30 minutes to become effective. Also, applying sunscreen in the terminal is much easier than applying it while crammed between strangers on a plane, so take the time before you board. You'll thank yourself for avoiding a sunburn on this vacation.

Wear a long sleeve UPF shirt

Regardless of how you travel, this always makes life a little easier. A quality UPF shirt will make sure your arms are protected and will minimize the amount of sunscreen you need to apply. However, make sure you still apply sunscreen to the back of your hands and your face and neck. You can also wear a neck gaiter to help keep your neck and face protected, but make sure you use sunscreen on any body parts which are uncovered.

Set an alarm for 2 hours after each application

It’s very easy to lose track of time while sitting still for hours on end. If you are traveling for more than a couple of hours, make sure you set a timer to remind you when you need to reapply sunscreen. This should be done at least every two hours.

Many of these tips are seemingly obvious but often forgotten about until it’s too late. Try to make it a habit to not only pack for your destination, but also for the trip itself. You'll thank yourself for avoiding sunburn on this long-awaited vacation.

Do you have a travel sun protection routine? Share with us in the comments!

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