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Will Europe travellers experience another summer of heatwaves?

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 2:28pm
Europe will likely face another uncomfortably hot summer.
Europe will likely face another uncomfortably hot summer.

Will Europe travellers experience another summer of heatwaves?

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 2:28pm

Every year, Kiwis travel en masse to Europe in search of warmer weather during the cold New Zealand summer. In 2023, they got more than they bargained for.

Alongside photos of travellers sipping Aperol Spritz’s in Italy or tanning on beaches in Majorca, we saw pictures of people upending water bottles onto red faces, wilting on sidewalks and crowding around fountains.

According to meteorologists, this year will be no different.

In 2023, severe heat waves hit southern Europe, driving temperatures up to a sweltering 40C. Railway lines buckled, wildfires tore across cities and countries such as Italy, Spain and Greece were evacuated.

This wasn’t a one-off event either, Europe has been named the fastest-warming continent and of the 30 most intense heatwaves to hit the continent since the 1950s, 23 have occurred since 2000.

More are expected to hit this summer according to experts at US-based climate intelligence firm, Atmospheric G2.

“Our computer models are in good agreement that it’s going to be another unusually hot summer, especially during late July through August,” Vice President of Meteorology Todd Crawford told The New York Times.

Atmospheric G2 believed the summer could be similar to 2022, which was Europe’s hottest on record and mainly felt in southern countries such as Greece, Croatia and Italy.

The damage and health risks caused by heatwaves in 2023 and 2022 were not confined to locals; many travellers had holidays ruined or cut short as a result.

Blistering heat, combined with the crowds that come with peak summer have prompted some Kiwis to alter their travel plans.

In January, travel news site and market research company Skift said a boom in shoulder season travel would be one of the next major travel trends. Global tour operators such as Intrepid Travel and TUI have already begun extending their tour seasons and adding cooler destinations to itineraries.

However, it may be a while before the heat can convince all Kiwis to forgo iconic spots like Greece or Italy or pull their kids out of school to visit outside of the July school holidays.

How to beat the heat in Europe this summer

For those travelling to Europe this summer, there are some things you can do to beat the heat.

Change your destination

If there’s still time to change your plans, consider heading somewhere cooler (and cooler!) like Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland or Sweden. Finland also has much milder climates and who knows, you could learn a thing or two about happiness from the joyful denizens.

Check with your guide

If you’ve booked with a tour company or organised guide, now is a good time to contact them and check whether they have factored in the heat and have contingency plans if the weather takes a severely hot turn. Some tour companies have adjusted itineraries and shuffled activities to the early morning and evening rather than walking around in the heat of the day.

Keep an eye on the weather

This age-old advice is always helpful for travel but especially so when there’s a risk of heatwaves. Besides having a good old-fashioned Google, travellers can also check Meteoalarm, which offers an overview of weather-related warnings across all of Europe.

Pack accordingly

If you’re moving around during the day, it is key to have light, breathable clothing that provides good coverage from the sun. Other backpack essentials include hats (the bigger the brim the better), one or two full water bottles and a small towel, which you can dunk into cold water at a pit stop and place over your face or neck to keep you cool.

Plan your days strategically

Try to schedule activities or tours, especially those you must walk to or during, for the early morning and early evening, when the heat isn’t as strong. Then, in the afternoons you can schedule indoor activities such as walking around an air-conditioned gallery or chilling at the hotel. Travellers can also download the Extrema Global app, which calculates walking routes with the most shade and identifies the nearest places with AC, fountains, parks and free drinking water.

Prepare your hotel room

If there’s ever a time to prioritise a room or hotel with air conditioning, summer in Europe is it. Additionally, close the windows and shades of your room when you’re out exploring, to help keep the room cold.

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