A sunburn for one can ruin a trip for everyone! A sun-brella can help you avoid sunburn no matter how pale you are - it's full-spectrum sun protection with attitude.
The Need for Sun Protection
When Mr. B and I started planning our recent Hawaiian vacation, sun protection was at the top of my list, and I knew a simple sunscreen wasn't going to cut it. Knowing that I would be spending an inordinate amount of time in direct sunlight, I needed something that went above and beyond.
As a life-long Portlander, umbrellas for the rain are usually a hard no, but blocking the sun? That's a whole different box of kittens. That's not a job for an umbrella - that's a job for a parasol!*
Of course - I needed a parasol! However, when I started looking for one, all I could find were lacy, Goth-inspired (or better yet, Hello Kitty) umbrellas, or drab "UV-protectant sunshades." Blech. I wanted something age-appropriate, functional, and pretty.
So I went in search of the perfect sun umbrella.
*From the French parasol: para- (“to shield”) + sol (“sun”).
I found my original sun-brella at a Honolulu-based company called Umbrellas Hawaii, which has unfortunately gone out of business. However, from that purchase, I learned what I needed to know so that I can replace it whenever needed.
I honestly believe my modern-day parasol saved our vacation.
Hawaii was very hot and humid the entire ten days of our trip, and without my self-propelled shade, no amount of sunscreen would have saved me from being burnt to a crisp.
Even if you are like Mr. B and have never had a real sunburn, have you ever had to endure a trip with someone who is badly sunburnt? Does the term "cranky" ring a bell? A sunburn for one can ruin a trip for everyone.
Tips for Choosing a Sun-brella
- A good sun-brella will have UPF certified fabrics that block 95%-97% of UV radiation.
- The seams should be tight and smooth.
- Look for fiberglass rods for light weight and optimal strength.
- Test the open/close mechanism. On the day we visited to Pearl Harbor, I must a have opened and closed my sunbrella fifty times in one day. My sunbrella opens and closes so smoothly that it's easier than opening my purse. I never once had a problem or pinched a finger.
- The little pieces at the ends of the struts should be covered and rounded. You don't want to have to worry about poking anyone's eye out with them.
- The umbrella should be light enough to comfortably carry for long spaces of time.
- The handle itself should be comfortable to hold and easy to grip.
- It should have good, durable water repellency. I mean, it is an umbrella, right?
I took my sun-brella everywhere, with the obvious exceptions of snorkeling and kayaking. Needless to say, it is now a permanent fixture on my vacation packing list. (I keep one in my car at all times, too!)
I wish I could fully explain how grateful I was when we returned home from our trip not suffering from post-vacation sunburn and all that goes along with it.
Finally - an umbrella I can use!
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