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Travelling in extreme climates

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Adventure | Comments Off on Travelling in extreme climates

Travelling is truly one of life’s greatest adventures, and wherever and whenever you go; you can turn any kind of trip into a real adventure. Whilst there are many holidays sold as adventure trips, surely the adventure comes from within, from exploring new places, meeting new people and embracing new cultures which ultimately benefit your life and add a richness to it that didn’t previously exist.


As previously mentioned, adventure can be found anywhere, but if you have done the Med to death and are looking to broaden your horizons so to speak, then that may well mean travelling to those far flung destinations you have probably only previously read about or seen on television and films, and more often than not this will mean travelling to destinations that have what is classed as extreme temperatures.

These are exactly what their name suggests, at either end of the temperature scale and way above, or below, our natural environment or even our usual holiday spots. This isn’t something that should be taken lightly, as travelling to these countries can have detrimental affects on your health if you don’t do your homework and are fully prepared in advance for what is in store for you.

One example of travelling in an extreme temperature is a trip to Alaska. This vast and diverse US state is becoming increasingly popular with tourists who want to take in one of the most fascinating areas of the globe. One of the most popular misconceptions about Alaska is that it’s cold all year round, when in fact temperatures in the summer can reach 60°F-80°F. Not hot by some standards but offering a comfortable warmth and certainly hot enough to get a tan, and unfortunately be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

The other end of the scale, however, is the winter weather. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was back in 1971 when -79.8° F (-62° C) was recorded at Prospect Creek. This was, unsurprisingly, an American record that still stands to this day. We in the UK struggle when it drops below freezing point, so travelling somewhere that averages -20-30° F can be a shock to anyone’s system.

Aurora Borealis

For this reason travelling between Spring at the earliest and Autumn at the latest is highly recommended, unless you are an intrepid explorer who is unperturbed about losing the odd digit to frostbite. Joking aside, this is a real possibility for the unprepared visitor who isn’t used to such a hostile environment, and you don’t have to travel here in the depths of winter to see the best of Alaska.

This certainly isn’t the only holiday destination where temperatures will be less than most of us have ever experienced. Parts of the US, Canada, Scandinavia, the mountainous regions of Europe and many more all suffer from a climate that is happiest in the minuses through the winter, and their ski resorts depend on it. Lots of layers and covering faces are the order of the day here, and whoever you are travelling with will advise on what exactly to take with you.


At the other end of the scale, extremely hot temperatures can also be very dangerous. Even the hardy who lie on the beach and sizzle all day in high temperatures will be brought down to size by the heat in many parts of the world, and they all carry warnings about the dangers of heatstroke, sunstroke and dehydration.

Even popular European hotspots such as Portugal and Turkey have extreme heat in the peak months, and unless you want to spend your days in an air conditioned room and only venture out when the sun goes down then travelling before June and from September onwards is highly recommended.

Safaris, be they big game or jeep, are one of the most popular trips for Brits abroad, and as both invariably take places in extremely hot, and in the case of the latter barren, areas the heat can prove to be a real problem. Desert safaris in the likes of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and the like are a great way to get back to one with nature and live like a native, but extreme temperatures teamed with bare skin is a recipe for disaster.


Don’t think for a minute that slapping on some factor 50 and a pair of shades will suffice, faces and heads should be covered for both the effects of the sun and the sand. The further you get out into a desert the hotter it gets, so ensure you have plenty of water with you , and never be without a bottle of water in your hand so you can drink constantly. Cover as much of your skin as you can as severe sunburn has made many a holiday a misery, and in situations like this you have to take the sun seriously.

One example of an extreme climate is being out at sea. Whether cruising or out for the day on a boat trip, there is no escape from the sea in the middle of an ocean and the breeze from travelling will make the temperature seem a lot cooler than it actually is. As the majority of these give you the chance to dive off the boats and swim in the sea, climbing back on board and lying straight down again on a lounger is a disaster waiting to happen.

Living in a country that has temperamental weather, to say the least, we tend to go mad when it comes to our holiday. We think we can deal with it being very hot, and think a scarf hat and gloves is enough to keep the cold out. Extreme climates deserve the utmost respect, and many who did not respect extreme weather haven’t lived to tell the tale.

When travelling in extreme climates always follow your travel companies advice regarding clothing and sustenance, never go off on your own, and take every precaution you can to ensure that your body temperature doesn’t plummet in cold temperatures; hypothermia, and doesn’t rise in extreme heat; heatstroke.

Doing your research on your intended destination before you travel is the best preparation you can give yourself, so spend some time on the internet and don’t be one of those who get caught out.

Henry Smith is a writer and blogger for the Huffington Post and car-rentals.com