5 tips for when the weather doesn’t cooperate while traveling

Phnom Penh in the rain

As you may have heard, the East Coast got some weird weather this weekend (also known as Snoloween). I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor tourists who must have come to DC expecting a nice fall weekend monument tour and instead had to trek through snow and sleet. I had actually planned to head down to the national mall on Saturday, but because of the weather decided to reschedule for a weekend with sunnier skies. It was nice that since I live here I had this option – obviously when you are traveling you have limited time and you don’t always have this luxury. After many years of traveling I’ve had my share of encounters with less than desirable weather and found the best ways of dealing.

1. Be Flexible
When I went to Amsterdam in September it ended up raining almost every day. As I later learned, this isn’t so rare for Amsterdam – they usually only get a few really nice days each summer. Thankfully, Amsterdam has a nice mix of both indoor and outdoor activities. When we did happen to get once really nice day during my visit, I postponed my trip to the Van Gogh museum and made sure to do all the things on my outdoor list – bike ride, canal tour, and visiting the parks. When the rain started up again, I still had plenty of museums and in door attractions to visit. The key is to rearrange your plans to make the most of the good weather when you have it and save rainy day activities for actual rainy days.

Escaping the heat

2. Look for the silver lining
It would be great if the weather on every trip was 70 degrees and sunny, but isn’t variety the spice of life? Hasn’t everyone seen pictures of the Eiffel Tower in front of blue skies? But have you seen it in a Thunder storm? Do you know what London looks like under a foot of snow? Have you ever seen camels react to nonstop sand storms? The fact is bad weather happens everywhere and if you are on vacation when the weather goes hay wire you will have a front row seat for observing real life. Whether its kids playing in the streets during a rain storm or animals rolling in the cool mud to avoid the heat, you are going to get to see a side of the world you don’t always find in the guide books. In addition, you sometimes get the most unique and beautiful photos during times of bad weather.

Rain in Amsterdam

3. Embrace the “bad” weather
As I’ve mentioned, my trip to Israel/Jordan during August of last year took place during an oppressive heat wave. It was literally so hot that I can’t even remember how hot it felt. Walking even a short distance was exhausting and I was constantly in a state of being a sweaty mess. As an added plus, pretty much none of our hostels had AC – our only respite from the heat was swimming. And swim we did. Because of the heat, we both discovered a love (read obsession) of swimming. We looked up and visited pretty much every site and attraction dealing with water – and because of the heat we were able to enjoy what might have otherwise been cold and miserable experiences: hiking through a river filled canyon in Jordan, exploring a underground water system at the City of David in Jerusalem, snorkeling in the red sea, and swimming in the sea of Galilee. 


4. Take breaks
Extreme weather can quickly wear you down and turn an exciting trip into a miserable journey. The trick to enjoying your sightseeing is to not push yourself too hard. Make sure to take frequent breaks to warm up (or cool down). Stop into shops, grab a cold drink or treat yourself to an afternoon nap. Not only will you get a chance to stop and people watch, you will allow yourself to recuperate and recharge for a few more hours. When visiting Eastern Europe in December, we managed to visit Bratislava on the coldest day in years. It was so cold we almost didn’t leave the train station. We promised ourselves if we could walk through the snow to the town center Christmas Market we would stop for hot chocolate. After making the walk and enjoying our drink we had the motivation to walk to the castle (where we stopped for another hot beverage).

Snow in Bratislava

5. Find the Funny Sometimes the weather is just too bad to continue with your trip as planned. Leaving the hostel, let alone sightseeing is out of the question. At this point, its best to just accept it and have a good laugh with your traveling companions. Look at this as an opportunity to rest and enjoy the company of your friends (or a good book). One day you will look back on this misery and laugh. You’ll remember how you had to wear three pairs of socks and your feet still froze. You’ll look fondly at the photos of yourself drenched in rain on the should be gorgeous beach. Sometimes really sucky situations end up being the perfect reason to bond with the people you meet with along the way.

Cold beer and shade to escape the Israel Heat

Want to see my other posts about things going wrong? Check out My Day of No and my Encounter with the Israeli Military.

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