Sun Safety for Your Caribbean Vacation

So, you’ve booked your vacation in the Caribbean—fun!  You’re going to be relaxing on the beach with a good book or playing in the waves in no time.  Before you go, though, here are some sun safety guidelines that you’ll need to be aware of so you can have the best time possible.

 

First thing’s first:  sunscreen!

In case you have never had a crazy sunburn before, if you end up with one on the very first day, it can absolutely ruin your trip (and possible even end up with you needing medical attention or having to go home early).   You also want to try to avoid getting sunburned because even one really bad sunburn can cause lasting damage to your skin and make you age prematurely.  Even if you are young, you still need sunscreen!

Here’s another fun fact:  even if you wear sunscreen every day, you are going to need a much higher SPF when you are in the Caribbean, for several reasons.  For one, the sun is brighter and stronger when it is reflected by water.  You’re also probably going to be in and out of the water multiple times, which will mean your sunscreen will wash or wear off (yes, this is true even if it says “waterproof” on the bottle).   You don’t have to believe us, though– in case you’re curious as to what “SPF” means or how sunscreen works exactly, here is a handy Wikipedia entry on that very subject.     Basically, “SPF” is “sun protection factor,” meaning if you usually burn in 5 minutes (like I do with my super-pale, white Irish skin), an SPF 20 sunscreen would get me 100 minutes of sun protection.  Of course, I tend to go with the really high SPFs (like SPF 50 or above), but I still reapply every 2 hours and you should too.   You cannot be too careful with sun protection!

Another thing to remember where sunscreen is concerned is that you don’t want to wait until you get to the Caribbean to buy it.  Stock up on a higher SPF than you usually wear before you leave!  Yes, most resorts and shops in the Caribbean will have sunscreen, but you need to have it right when you get there, at the strength that you need for your skin.   What if you can’t find what you need when you get there?  This will mean you will either have to stay inside and avoid the sun, or go outside with an SPF that is not strong enough for you, which will mean you are risking that nasty sunburn we discussed before.   In this case, planning ahead is super important—that vacation was probably expensive, and long-term sun damage is not an option!  It is easy enough to just plan ahead and stock up on some strong sunscreen.  This is the one that I use.  You don’t have to go crazy like me, but you do have to bring something, for yourself and the rest of your family.
No Excuses!

Next we’ll talk about the laziness factor.  That would be where you are sitting on the beach, maybe with a drink or two, and you lose track of time, or you go in the water, then sit back down on your towel.   Not ok!   Set a timer on your phone for every two hours, and reapply again if you go in the water.   If you feel like you are not going to want to do this, do yourself a favor and get a sun protection dress or shirt (I like this one).     You still need to keep putting sunscreen on your face, though!  Do not forget that!!

 

Drink So Much Water!

Here’s another “save your vacation” tip—be sure to drink a lot of water while you’re in the Caribbean!   Being outside in the sun is dehydrating, and so is drinking alcohol (and caffeine).  Since you are probably going to be doing all of these things while you’re on vacation, it is an absolute necessity that you drink more water than you usually do.  Getting heat exhaustion and ending up needing IV fluids is SO not how you want to spend your vacation, plus you have no idea what your insurance is going to cover if you have to see a doctor in another country.

 

Again, no excuses!

 If you don’t love water, drink Gatorade or another sports drink.   Drink something other than booze, especially if you’ve been out in the sun all day.   If you notice that you’re feeling overheated or light-headed, especially after you’ve been out in the sun or drinking, drink some water!   If you have been exercising, put some salt in water and drink it!   When in doubt, DRINK SOME WATER!    If you’re concerned about the drinking water in the area you’re visiting, stock up on bottled water when you get there.  Keep water in your room and take it with you to the beach.   Also, if you’re about to say that drinking that much water is going to harsh your vacation because you’re going to have to pee all the time, shut up and drink some water!   Just kidding.   If you’re concerned about that, just try to schedule the majority of your water consumption during a time that you are near the hotel so you can pee in your room.  It will be good for you to get out of the sun at regular intervals anyway.

 

Wear Those Sunglasses!

 Hey, did you know that you can also get sunburned inside your eyes?   Well, this is a little bit of an oversimplification, but the sun can definitely damage your eyes in the long-term, especially if you have light eyes (like blue or green).  Squinting gives you wrinkles anyway, so you probably already own some sunglasses, plus sunglasses look chic when you’re at the beach or out on the water (like in a boat).  Pack an extra pair in case you lose the first one.   Prolonged exposure to the sun can contribute to a condition called macular degeneration, so that’s actually scary.

 

My Sun Safety Summary

I know, this article sounds so bossy, but honestly, I want you to have a great time when you’re on vacation, so I am hoping that you take this in the spirit in which it was intended.   Take these simple steps, and you can insure that you have a great vacation with no sun-related mishaps.  Have fun!

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