Here Comes the Sun-Protection
I’m packing for the US tropical islands for Spring Break. Not the Hawaiian Islands this time, but the Caribbean. The US Virgin Islands don’t require a passport and the average water temperature is about 80 degrees . The Saints are waiting (as in the islands of St Thomas, St Croix and St. John) Sun and sea here I come!
The #1 item for packing? Sun protection, and I don’t mean sunblock. Yes, I will pack my favorite, but I can also buy it there and not worry about 3 ounce maximums for carry-on. I mean my clothes. I specifically mean clothes designed for sun protection made by a company called Sun Precaution– a line by Solumbra and referred to as SPF Clothing. I do not want my vacation to be a race to cancer or aging skin! I do want “safe” clothes for outdoor adventure, and sun lounging.
Most people now know that the sun’s rays can penetrate t-shirts and go through windows and do damage, and that we rarely apply sun block thoroughly and often enough to fully work. Do you know how many ounces you could go through in a vacation outdoors if you fully followed the instructions?
“Medical Solution” Fashion
When Shaun Hughes got melanoma skin cancer in his 20s, he got inventive too. He created and patented what he calls a “medical solution” — a tightly woven cloth that is tested to be SPF (sun protection factor) of 100. And then he developed a line of clothing other people would wear too. He has made improvements over the last 20 years based on research and fashion.
There are Sun Protection stores now on the West Coast (Santa Monica and San Diego in California, and Seattle, Washington), but I liked perusing the goods online, organized by item or by activity.
For my last trip to Nicaragua, I took three long-sleeved shirts, two pairs of long pants and two hats to give them a real test (me). They were very lightweight and took up little room, so I could still fly carry-on for an 8 day adventure trip, if I wore my hiking boots and jacket on the plane ( I did.)
The complimentary colors allowed mixing and matching for many outfits. I added jewelry and scarves for accessorizing. The extras also dressed up the outfit and detracted from any sense of Safari motif.
I also supplemented my traveling wardrobe with a skirt, a little black dress, and two Scottevest items that were also on trial (a long jacket with hidden pockets and their cargo pants with pockets. These clothes are not designed for sun protection, but with multiple pockets to free up hands and eliminate the need for a shoulder bag. ) Verdict: Keepers for travel and home. The long -hanging lightweight jacket dressed up my other shirts, travelled wrinkle free and gave me the extra warmth needed in the evenings. It’s flowing lines attracted compliments too.
Solumbra Lessons on the Road
Here’s some of what I learned about my “SPF Clothing” during the active experiment in Nicaragua;
*I was the only one in a group of intrepid wonderful travelers on the Austin-Lehman trip that did not have some part of me get sunburned at some point during full days of city and nature activity.
*The ventilated shirts were well-engineered and breezy, so I didn’t get hot and sweaty the way I would of in jeans and a t-shirt.
*The hats were flexible enough for me to bend back the rim when I needed to for photography. The chin strap saved the windy day when others were chasing after their hats.
*I didn’t suffer from any bug bites either (I had sprayed everything with Sawyer’s Clothing insect repellent before the trip- “good for six weeks protection against ticks chigger, mites and mosquitos”)
*The clothes are versatile and hardy. They (sans hat) worked:
- upside down while I was ziplining,
- under the thick overalls worn for ash-boarding down a volcano,
- after getting splashed in kayaking (they dried quickly),
- during horseback riding in the jungle under monkeys and on the gorgeous beach of Morgan’s Rock.
* They served well too as good city-tour clothes and kept me comfortable (culturally and physically) when we visited the cathedrals, restaurants and museums of Leon and Granada.
*They are easily hand-washable and so thin they dry relatively quickly. I tested this out after sitting in a wet field to get a better angle for a photo of a volcano, and after getting chocolate spread on the pants accidentally when I went for a chocolate massage (another story for another time.)
*The clothing is so soft that I felt sometimes like I was wearing pajamas. I now like wearing them at home and around town for errands.
And in conclusion…
So, in conclusion, it’s all going with me to the Caribbean too. I just wish I had thought to get the “skirted sea leggings” and “swim top” and maybe surf jacket for all the time I plan to spend in the water! Snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming, maybe the new jetpacks. How wonderful not to worry about going back to shore and re-lathering legs and arms and back, and trying to do it without acting like a glue-magnet for sand.
Now, where’s my swimsuit? And what books should I bring ?
Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens
Photo of Shaun Hughes from Sun Precautions Website as well as first story image
Feature image of St Croix provided by US Virgin Islands Tourism
others taken on Austin -Lehman Adventures Nicaragua trip