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How to Keep Cool on Road Trips in Hot Weather

How to Keep Cool on Road Trips in Hot Weather

Published 26 July 2019


Driving in hot weather can be pretty uncomfortable but there are some things you can do to minimise the effects of the heat.  

Before you set off open the windows to let the hot air out that has been trapped in the car; then roll up the windows and turn on the air conditioning to maximum for a few minutes to cool the car down quickly.


Air Conditioning vs Open Windows

There is an old debate about whether driving with windows open or air con is more expensive.

In truth if you are driving slowly through built-up areas then open windows will keep you cool, but on fast roads wind resistance from open windows uses more fuel than running air con.


Alternative Ways to Stay Cool

If you are concerned about the costs of running air con or your car isn’t equipped with air con then there are some alternative ways to try and keep cool on road trips.

  • Before your trip freeze bottles of water and give one to everyone for the car journey. They can be pressed against their wrists, the back of your neck, temples or behind the knees. These are pulse points, which are closely connected to the part of your brain that controls your body temperature. Placing something cold on these areas will cool you off faster.
  • Alternatively you can use instant freeze packs which don’t need to be pre-chilled, and once activated stay cool for around 40 minutes.
  • Make up cold water misters by filling spray bottles with water and keep them in the fridge until just before you leave.  
  • Bring battery operated handheld fans. 
  • Make sure all passengers stay hydrated.
  • Roll down windows to allow air to pass through the car, ensure front and rear windows are open to draw a draft through the car.


Keeping Cars Cool While Parked

If you’ve managed to stay cool during your trip, you don’t want to heat up the car while it’s parked. So take a few simple steps to keep your car cool.

  • The most obvious is to avoid parking in direct sunlight.  If there is no shade from the sun, pop a windscreen sun shade on your dashboard to reflect the sun’s heat, and put up sun shades in other windows.
  • Steering wheels can get super hot, so cover it with a damp cloth.
  • Similarly cover up exposed metal such as child car seat harness fittings, and seatbelt buckles.


Additional Tips to Stay Cool

Wear clothes in pale shades as they don’t absorb as much heat from the sun; white is the coolest colour as it reflects all wavelengths of light, but lighter shades of red and yellow are also good.  Avoid black or navy as they absorb sunlight and heat, making you feel hotter.

Try and plan your trip to include shady routes. The more time you spend out of direct sunlight, the cooler you and your car will be. Tree-lined streets or wooded back roads offer more shade and will help keep you cooler.

Avoid driving in rush hour traffic, where you won’t be able to get any airflow as you’ll be hardly moving.


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