Ten tips to beat the big heat

Image of Tyler Brûlé

It’s an NRT-HEL-LHR-BEY-AUH-DXB-GRU week (if you don’t speak airport code that translates into Tokyo, Helsinki, London, Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and São Paulo). Having just managed to survive the blistering heat of Tokyo, I’m bracing myself for the toasty delights of the Gulf. To support people living in the tropics or those who have to work through August in the northern hemisphere, I’ve developed “The Fast Lane Guide to Doing Business Without Breaking a Sweat”. Most of these heat-busting solutions have been road-tested with excellent results in various professional and social settings.

1. Plan your travel wisely

Just as foreign ministries advise travellers to stay away from certain regions unless business is absolutely essential, many urban centres should also be given a wide berth from late May to late September. As much as I love Tokyo, it was impossibly hot at the weekend. Think of an industrial size humidifier with a massive hair-dryer bolted on top that’s switched to maximum heat with the fan on its lowest setting. Then imagine the whole contraption is positioned 1cm from your face all day long. To venture out, you need a standby change of shirt and a full arsenal of cooling essentials (more on these later). From now on I’ll give Tokyo a swerve at this time of year. My list to avoid will also include Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago. Watch out, too, for cities that look OK from afar but sneak up on you with their lack of cooling technologies (Geneva, Munich, Berlin and much of eastern Europe), not to mention cities that super-cool their buildings so you’re never appropriately dressed for outdoors or indoors (Hong Kong and those in the Gulf come to mind).

2. Schedule your day carefully

Plan your hour-by-hour itinerary well in advance and attempt to do as much business as possible from your hotel lobby or your regional office. Aim to schedule breakfast, lunch and tea at your hotel and then host dinner at a perfectly chilled nearby restaurant. It’s essential to avoid dining al-fresco as it’s unlikely to be as cool as you’d like for comfort.

3. Avoid site visits

Some of my most miserable travel experiences have involved property site visits in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. No matter how early you start or how much shade is on offer, you always end up with dreadful wet patches in the worst places – a soaking back, wet marks at the rib cage and, in extreme cases, even damp marks behind the knees. If possible, put such tours off till the coolest possible month.

4. Cancel that extra espresso

Even if you’re feeling completely exhausted before your morning round of meetings, avoid ordering that second espresso. The extra hit of caffeine will aid in turning up the heat. Once you overheat, it’s hard to get things back under control.

5. Work out earlier

If your normal morning work-out routine calls for a 20-minute cool down, then it’s best to budget for 45 minutes, a cold bath and colder shower on days where the mercury creeps beyond 30°C. Getting dressed while still hot is on par with touring a building site in Johor on a hot day.

6. Try this mental exercise

Starting your day in a cool body of natural water can fortify you for the heat ahead. While enjoying the cool waters take a mental snapshot of the moment, store somewhere in your mind for quick recall and then pull out this memory during moments when there are no cooling breezes in the forecast. I keep cold thoughts of swimming in the Baltic on stand-by.

7. Undershirt or no undershirt?

It’s a tricky one as more layers make you hotter and can also have a slight Michelin Man effect. I vote for no undershirts but a better choice of cotton for dress shirts and suits with the right fabrics and minimal lining.

8. Show a bit of leg

If you have the good fortune not to work in an uptight corporate environment, then keep your socks out of view and let the air up your trouser leg.

9. Invest in a good hat

A well-ventilated hat (Borsalino or Tokyo hat are good options) lets body heat out, keeps you cool and, if worn at the right angle, can also attract admiring glances.

10. Always be prepared

In the event that all else fails, then don’t leave your hotel room/office/car without packing the following:

● an extra dress shirt, lightly starched in white or light stripes. Greys, blues and pinks will all end up wet and patchy;

● a supply of Gatsby Ice Type. These facial wipes have a numbing, freexing effect and are the best invention for cooling the brow and restoring concentration and dignity.

● a folding fan. Yes it might look a bit fruity but in stifling queues you’ll be the envy of the lot.

Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle

tyler.brule@ft.com

More columns at www.ft.com/brule

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