You, the sole traveler, wandering the world alone face hazardous weather, gigantic nefarious companies, wildlife that eats you alive at night – and that’s on a good day. Yet you, brave nomad, have one thing they don’t. It’s what allows short judo fighters to flip larger opponents through the sky and hobbits to become lord of rings. You, my friend have, have leverage.
Here’s how to wield yours to find cracks in large systems that aren’t nearly as maneuverable as you are to save money, comfort, and sometimes your own skin.
Change Temperatures From The Inside Out
Most of our intuition about temperatures are wrong because we base them on how we feel and rudimentary dichotomies (e.g. to make something hot use cold). The problem with that general logic is that we’re all running around in hot bodies (oh baby) that fight to keep their temperatures constant. Around many parts of the world where people don’t have the luxury of air conditioning or central heating they’ve stumbled upon some effective but counter-intuitive methods of controlling the air around them feels.
- Eat Spicy Foods To Cool Off – You’ll notice in places like India, Thailand, and the Philippines that aren’t often cold, the cuisine is often peppered with spicy foods. Aside from being effective at preventing the growth of bacteria (especially important in hot, humid climates) spicy foods cause blood vessels on your skin to expand, dissipating heat and encouraging sweating. (On a side-note, antiperspirants don’t effect your body’s ability to cool down.)
- Drink Hot Liquids To Beat The Heat – Again, you would think that a cold milkshake would work better than hot tea but cold drinks actually heat you up in the long run. Your stomach cools down in the first 15 minutes, but after that you’re back to normal temperature – then hotter. Digestion takes energy and often our bodies temporarily overcompensate to heat up that cold spot fast.
Hot drinks (without calories) on the other hand work much like spicy foods, causing you to sweat, and tea has the added benefit of being mostly water which helps replace the body’s natural coolant.
- Pee To Feel Warm – No, I don’t mean pee on yourself to stay warm (because soon you’ll feel really cold anyway); but by not holding your urine in, your body won’t have to bother heating it up. You see, your body wastes energy keeping you – all of you – at the same core temperature. Peeing when you’ve got the urge (that means your bladder is about 25% full by the way) frees up heat that can go to your chilly little fingers.
As for beer and other alcohol, cold or otherwise, it’s not going to bring you relief from the heat since booze dehydrates you. Enough beer though and you’ll be drunk which may or may not improve your outlook on the weather. As for drinking vodka and other hard liquor to stay warm, it too actually does the opposite. Alcohol gets those blood vessels flowing to the skin – which makes you feel warmer – but causes your to lose body heat more rapidly. So, if you’re lost in the woods on winter’s day, lay off the booze, it could kill you. Layers, on the other hand, let you regulate your body temperature much easier and make moms happy all over the world.
Finally, this is an old trick from the ancient Egyptians I’ve talked about previously – spritzing your bed and pillow sheets with ice water before sleeping to cool you off at night.
Deter Common Pests
I thankfully haven’t come across bed bugs yet but they’re certainly a growing problem. On top of that, they’re a growing problem that can follow you home. If you suspect you’ve been feasted on and happen to be traveling in the summer or in warmer regions, a car trunk in the sun will get hot enough to rid your luggage of bed bugs. Leave your bags in a hot car trunk for about 4 hours and bed bugs – eggs and all – will be dead.
To defeat other organized insects you’re likely to come across:
- Turn Your Smelly Feet Into Mosquito Traps – Combined with stinky socks, duct tape, and the right measurements.
- Hang Bags Of Water To Deter Flies – A trick I picked up in the Philippines. Here’s what it looks like.
- Use Baby Power, Coffee, Or Cayenne To Throw Ants Off Track – One they lose their scent trails, ants get lost and die, leaving your snacks alone (hopefully).
Unfortunately cockroaches are much more difficult to get rid of depending on the extent of their infiltration (I once stayed at a place in India that would make your nightmares bleed reminiscent of this X-Files episode). That said, apparently catnip is a good deterrent but I’m guessing you’re not carrying that in your handbag.
On Thursday in Part 2 I’ll show you how to fend off other big problems with a bit of actual judo, some old-school hacking, and cloud calculating that wouldn’t bust the most modest of travel budgets.