Even though summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, the warming spring weather is providing plenty of clues for what’s to come. For those of us who are still in school (or work for a school), summer vacation is either already here or coming soon! While all the seasons have their positive traits, I adore summer due to the fantastic weather and the ability to kick back and relax. Even if you don’t have an official summer vacation, you can still enjoy many of the benefits of the season – and here’s how!
Get Your Supplies
Even though there is a tendency to rush into summer head-first – I can still pleasantly remember how giddy I was in elementary school as I rode that yellow bus back home on the last day of school – freeze! There are some things you need first, before you immerse yourself in summer madness.
Sunblock – Essential, essential, and did I say essential? Everyone needs sunblock, regardless of age, race, ethnicity and what have you. While it’s recommended that you wear sunscreen on a daily basis (the sun doesn’t leave in the winter, although it may feel like it), the harsh UV rays present in the summer make sunblock especially important. (Note that this is not the same as sunscreen, which is more opaque and less effective) Studies have shown that the most effective way to use sunblock is to apply it 15-20 minutes before expected sun exposure, and to re-apply 15-20 minutes after. If you plan to stay outside for a while, re-apply two hours later. Afterwards, re-application is only necessary in cases such as heavy perspiration, swimming and rubbing/wiping. Also, make sure you use enough! The FDA advises that the average adult female (someone five foot four) uses about an ounce of sunblock on her body. Using less can cut sunblock effectiveness, so don’t skimp! It expires after a couple of years, anyway.
Drinking water – Don’t let yourself fall victim to dehydration! Most studies show that adults need about one to two liters of water daily to avoid dehydration, but you should plan to drink more if you are exercising or in an especially humid climate. To avoid using wasteful plastic water bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle. I have a Vapur and have also used a Nalgene with great results, but if you shop around, you can definitely find one that fits your size, design and budget preferences. While these bottles are more expensive initially than that disposable bottle, they’ll quickly pay for themselves depending on how often you normally drank bottled water.
Cover-ups – Make sure to get a chic pair of sunglasses and a nice hat to limit sun exposure, especially during the peak hours in the early to mid-afternoon. Sport a bucket hat only if necessary.
Plan it Out! (in moderation)
I am a compulsive planner sometimes. I like to think things out well in advance. While I haven’t gotten to the point of micro-managing my entire summer yet, it’s threatened to get there sometimes. Rather than doing that, keep in mind a list of things you wanted to do over the summer. One thing I’ve learned is to try to get a bit specific, so when you look to it for suggestions, you have a clear set of options in front of you. Unless it’s what you truly wanted, no one likes to be the person spending their summer days vegging in front of the TV or on the computer. The weather is a perfect opportunity to go outside and enjoy yourself, especially if you have a day job and your time is limited. Exceptions made for rain and movie dates.
Day (or longer) trips: Are there any nearby sites you wanted to see in person? Any tourist spots that you think would be fun? I know for me, there are a few museums I’m trying to see again, as well as taking a trip to the Inner Harbor to visit the National Aquarium. If you’re stuck, try the hospitality website for your local city or township – not only do they have the interesting spots to visit, but they can also keep you up to date on concerts, fairs, festivals and other short-term events that could be happening in your area. You never know what kinds of cool places could be in your hometown or close by. Best of all, many of these things (especially events) are often cheap or free.
Upkeep: Are you finally going to organize your bedroom? Clean out that closet? Rearrange some furniture? Awesome! Put that on your summer list. This, more than anything, is best served if you break it down into specific parts. Rather than say, “clean up my closet” – because let’s face it, that’s really vague – maybe start with, “Sort my clothing: Keep, Donate or Throw Out”.
Self Improvement: Summer is a great time to practice skills you are rusty on or would like to learn. Hopefully during this time I can finally learn how to knit and do basic sewing. If you have a local community college or community center, check to see if they offer any short-term classes in an area of your interest. My local CC has classes ranging from Tai Chi to nature photography to salsa dancing. If that isn’t a feasible option for you, there’s always the internet! Some of my favorite sites include Wiki How and Video Jug.
Miscellaneous: Some things aren’t heavy-duty but can be kept in mind when you find yourself flipping channels with nothing to do. These are things like reading (or writing) a book, going on a picnic, seeing the latest summer blockbuster, going swimming or getting ice cream with friends.
Relax and Enjoy
This is what summer is for! Enjoy the nice weather before autumn comes and it gets chilly again. Indulge in a nice pedicure and show off your toes. Make sure to make every minute count, whether you spend it on a fabulous excursion or sleeping under a fan with a glass of lemonade nearby. Most importantly, have a great summer! (and take pictures!)
What are your summer time essentials? Let me know in the comments.