Australian summers can be absolutely scorching – sometimes, temperatures soar above 40°C and can stay that way for days. An Australian heatwave can last for up to a week and can be quite difficult to deal with for travellers, students and locals alike.
You need to know how to look after yourself in summer. If you’re on a student budget, it’s important to know how to stay cool and comfortable in the middle of summer without spending too much money, particularly if you’re living somewhere with hot, dry weather like Adelaide or Perth. Here’s our list of top tips for surviving an Australian heatwave on a budget.
Avoid the hottest part of the day
This is one of the simplest tips! The hottest part of the day is the afternoon, between about 12pm and 3pm. During this time, stay indoors or make sure you’re in the shade. For example, if you normally exercise, do this in the morning before it gets super hot, or in the evening after the sun goes down. Balmy Australian summer evenings are a fantastic time to hang out with friends – once you wait through the hottest part of the day, you can enjoy the comfortable, warm evening.
Use fans rather than air conditioning at home
Ceiling and pedestal fans won’t cool down a room as fast or make it as cool as a reverse cycle air conditioner. However, they definitely make a difference on a roasting hot day, and they’re much cheaper to run. If you have a pedestal fan, you can drape a wet towel over it – this will cool down the air that’s being moved around the room. Alternatively, drape the wet towel on your face or body and lie in front of the pedestal fan or below the ceiling fan to cool yourself down quickly.
Enjoy cold drinks
One of the best ways you can keep cool is to make sure you have cold drinks on hand. But, sometimes, the water coming from the tap in the middle of Australian summer will be hot! Solve this problem by filling bottles with water and keeping them in the fridge or even the freezer – this way, you’ll always have something refreshing to drink.
Make cold food
Just like cold drinks, cold food and snacks can help you to stay cool. Frozen treats like ice cream or an Aussie classic, the Zooper Dooper, will cool your mouth down instantly. Refrigerated healthy snacks like fruit and salad, particularly lettuce and cucumber, will be refreshing and cooling too – and are actually hydrating on a hot day! Look up some recipes for delicious cold soups, like gazpacho, and really enjoy cooling your body down.
Go somewhere with air conditioning
If you don’t have air conditioning at home, or if you want to save money by cooling down somewhere else, visit a local library, shopping centre or café – they’ll generally have very good air conditioning, and you can out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. If you can find a cinema with cheap movie tickets or student discounts, this can be a great budget way to stay cool for several hours too!
If it’s a scorching hot day, one of the most efficient ways to cool down is to have a cold shower or go swimming. The beach is free and local pools are generally quite cheap to attend, too. If you decide to go swimming, make sure you protect yourself from the sun (check out our next tip!) and read through our safe swimming tips.
Protect yourself from the sun
If you venture outside on a hot summer day, it’s really important to protect yourself from the sun. The Australian sun can be very harsh and can cause sunburn quickly. The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to stay in the shade. But, if you’re going to be in the sun, make sure you invest in high-quality, high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen and a hat. Loose-fitting cotton clothes can also provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Check out these SunSmart tips to make sure you’re protected in every way!
Put a towel in an esky
This tip is an amazing one for barbecues or park outings! If there’s a communal esky (portable fridge) filled with ice or cold water (after the ice has melted), dip a towel or your t-shirt or a shawl in the cold water and then drape it around yourself. You might be surprised at how effective this is, even on an extremely hot afternoon.
Armed with these tips, you’ll be able to survive even the hottest Australian summer!