Tips for Surviving Haiti’s Summer Heat

As we prepare for Summer 2018 teams, we wanted to update and re-share this summer gear blog. It was originally published in May 2017, but we’ve added some new tips! 

Traveling to Haiti can be intimidating and exciting all at the same time. Your experience will depend your thirst for adventure, prior travel experiences, and enthusiasm for embracing new things outside your comfort zone for a week. To most Americans, Haiti almost always feels hot. When we leave the snow in February, the tropical climate is a welcome relief. But, traveling to Haiti in the summer can be downright brutal because of the stifling heat.

You might find some pleasant summer temperatures if you go up high enough in the mountains, but if you spend your time at lower altitudes or near the ocean, you will likely be swallowed up by the heat that surrounds you.

I’ve spent a lot of summer weeks in Haiti, and these are some of my favorite heat survival tips:

Evening Showers
Think cold showers are unpleasant? You’ll be grateful for them after a hot summer day in Haiti. Take a cold shower right before you climb into bed. There is nothing better. It will help cool down your core body temperature and make going to sleep easier. Plus, it’s something to look forward to when you’re feeling the afternoon heat!

Portable fan
When the inverter power runs out at night and your dorm fans stop running, it is time to grab your battery-powered or rechargeable portable fan to move some air and give some relief. I like the O2COOL 5-inch Portable Fan or the OPOLAR Battery Operated Desk Fan. Don’t forget to pack batteries!

Instant Cold Packs
When the cold showers don’t cool you down enough, grab an instant cold pack out of your bag. Break it and fall asleep with a cold pack on your head or chest. These are also great for the 40-year-olds who think they can still play soccer on a rocky field and end up twisting an ankle instead. Check out Instant Cold Packs and bring a few with you!

2 Water Bottles & Hydration Powder
The one thing I can guarantee you will do on a summer mission trip to Haiti – sweat! Best gauge against dehydration: If you aren’t using the bathroom, you aren’t drinking enough fluids. And being dehydrated is not fun at all. Trust me. Gatorade is your new best friend. Powder packets are easy to bring and easy to use!

And bring 2 water bottles. One to keep filled with Gatorade. One for water. Get a bottle that you love and not a cheap one that will break. The rocks, the cattle truck, the tile floors – Haiti can be hard on water bottles. Nalgene, Nathan, Camelback, and my personal favorite Mira are all great choices!

(Bonus Tip #1)
Most stainless steel bottles will do a pretty good job keeping your liquids cool for part of the day versus plastic bottles.

(Bonus Tip #2)
Carabiner clips are handy to fasten your water bottle to your day bag or your belt loop, keeping it nearby all day long.

Body Powder or Body Glide
Gonna be real with you here – sweat and heat can produce chafing. To keep it from starting in the first place, I suggest Body Glide. Our entire Triple Trek hiking team used it for 3 days on the trail and 50 miles without any chafing. It is amazing! If you do experience chafing, you’ll want some body powder to keep areas dry. Anti-Monkey Butt Powder is a funny name, but you won’t be laughing when it relieves an uncomfortable situation! Baby powder is also great for removing unwanted sand from your skin. Just shake it on. When you brush off the powder, the sand will come off also.

Moisture Wicking Clothing
The right clothing can help keep you cool and reduce chafing. Think UnderArmor and other moisture wicking, athletic clothing. It really does help you stay cool and dry. (As with all clothing choices, we know it’s hot, but we still ask you wear modest tops and bottoms!)

You don’t have to pack anything for this one! Take advantage of big palm trees, banana plants, the gazebo, or any shady areas you can find. The Haiti sun can feel hotter much more quickly than most people are used to. If you feel yourself getting too hot, find some shade and your Gatorade/water bottle and take a short break. You’ll be glad you did!

Yes, you will be working alongside Haitians that will likely work harder and longer than you with less “gear.” Remember, this is their home, and they are used to the heat and the climate. Just as you are experiencing a new culture,  you are also experiencing a new climate. Prepare well ahead of time so you can fully embrace the experience! Whatever you do, stay hydrated, and stay as cool and dry as you can!

Enjoy the journey!

Cameron Mayhill
US Director

Want to learn more about some of our favorite Haiti Gear? Check out our HaitiGear blog tag for more travel tips for missions.