Tips For Traveling in the Desert
Most of the scenic destination profiles and photos you’ll see in the travel photography area of this site will be in the Southwestern area of the United States. And just like any other area of the world where weather can be extreme, there are things you should know before starting out on your adventure. Even if you’re just planning a day trip, these are very important:
1. Take extra water. Both for your vehicle and the people traveling with you. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon per person, plus one or more gallons for your car.
2. Take snacks or dried food items. This should be something that can hold up to a lot of heat. The desert gets extremely hot at certain times of the year, and inside your car it can go well above 150 degrees. So you want food items that can withstand those temperatures without going bad.
3. Take blankets, sheets, towels, or other items that can block the sun. If your car breaks down, you can hang these on the windows to keep most of the strength out, thus keeping out some of the heat, and keeping you from becoming severely sunburned.
4. Wear a hat. This is especially important for people with light colored or thin hair, because your scalp will sunburn badly – very quickly.
5. Keep gloves on hand. This sounds strange, but if your car is parked in the sun for even a short amount of time, everything in it becomes extremely hot. Getting back in and just touching the steering wheel for instance, or trying to turn the ignition key, can literally burn your skin. It’s like touching a hot stove.
6. Beware of leather seats. This is critical particularly for baby car seats. The leather heats up drastically when the sun is directly on it. But even without the sun, leather gets super hot in the desert during the day and it can burn you very badly.
Originally published June 2005