We’ve probably all been there: you plan that perfect vacation, every last detail, but forget one thing- Mother Nature may have different ideas. I previously shared with you some of the benefits of traveling during the transition of seasons along with a few places where although the weather may not be at its optimum peak, may still be great for visiting and the fewer crowds make it worthwhile. This time it’s about those best laid plans in anticipation of glorious sunny days and then getting there to find drizzly or downright pouring weather putting a damper on your “flawlessly planned” agenda. Here are a couple of simple ideas and a new perspective on dealing with those less than perfect days that were NOT part of the plan.
While the following may seem like basic travel planning 101, not everyone will give it a thought or remember to apply these when they are in that “perfect vacation itinerary” mode. In our excitement, we envision that our every moment, attraction and stroll will be in perfect harmony with the elements and Universe. Your trip that was months in the making, booked far in advance and cannot be easily changed is now threatened by a few days of Nature raining on your travel parade. You’re thinking, “Noooo!! <Insert YOUR pouting face here>; it’s going to RUIN EVERYTHING!”  It certainly can feel like gloom and doom but not necessarily if you remember:

Rainy Day Contingency – Contessa Style

  1. Flexibility to change your daily agenda on your trip list
  2. Have a Plan B maybe even Plan C of alternate things to see and do
  3. Embrace the less than perfect weather days as they too can make for some unforgettable memories.

About that flexibility: while in Rome, YES, I did as the Romans and enjoyed walking thru breath-taking ancient sites and streets.

Sfera con Sfera” Statue, Courtyard of the Pine at the Vatican

When I traveled there for a friend’s special occasion, it was during October when the weather is still quite delightful, but as luck would have it, a couple of days were rainy; in fact one day was like a perpetual waterfall from the sky! THAT DAY turned out to be the best choice to spend hours inside the Vatican (despite it being a bit crowded as it was the weekend).

Although most of the tour was indoors, thank goodness, it did take us past partially open corridors where you could glimpse various courtyards and facades of the church and museum buildings. Despite there not being bright sunshine and blue sky as a back drop, the type of weather actually gave my fotos a different yet equally beautiful perspective. In fact, when the tour ended it was still raining and now dark outside yet the view of an imposing damp Vatican against softly lit antique lamp posts and St. Peter’s Square dotted with a few straggler passersby under umbrellas was a whole new work of art.

Rainy Night: St. Peter’s Square – the Vatican

I’m fortunate and glad that the wiggle room in my plans allowed me to stay mostly dry indoors that day and experience an even more unique view of one of the places on my “Must See” list for that trip.

Sometimes, however, you’re simply not afforded much flexibility in your travel agenda- perhaps you purchased nonrefundable tickets for a day excursion well in advance, committing you to it rain or shine; unfortunately these things happen (more below on my approach towards instances like that) but whenever possible, try and think ahead and have those alternate plans ready.

You can apply this whether you’re traveling solo or in a group, especially on family vacations to places like theme parks. If you’re already at the park but the forecast calls for afternoon thunder storms to roll around, find out what indoor attractions, restaurants or souvenir shops you can scope out during that time PRIOR to having to run for cover for an hour or two without much to do.

If you’re not yet at the park, what indoor recreational places are near or did you book a place that perhaps also has an indoor pool? It’s all about  a little planning but keeping them loose. Note your “must see” places, what’s indoors, outdoors, wait times, distances etc. Based on that once you create your dream itinerary for each day, make an alternate list or at least give thought to what can be switched for different days.

Lastly, research other “not so notable” places at your destination. Places you might also find interesting if time were allowed and/or plans change. These back-up places may be: lesser known historical buildings, museums, art galleries, special interest venues for sports, music, relaxing spas, themed eateries, cultural centers or exhibitions- the list is endless!

Sometimes, not only will you find refuge during bad weather but the place may turn out to be one of the most unexpected favorites of the trip.  You can usually find any one of these within cities, villages & hamlets, big or small.

While flexibility and alternate plans are not a full-proof method (nothing is) it may at least help you make the most of your trip no matter what the weather. Now, for those that prefer the “unscripted agenda & see where the wind takes me once I get there” route,

I applaud your carefree abandon but I say- maybe a little of this list planning may help you as well.

Bow Church Original Entrance East London

Bow Church, Main Gate East London

Don’t get me wrong, I too enjoy spontaneity, it’s the reason why I leave some room for unmapped strolling and any last minute “let’s do this” but having at least a little plan actually affords you more time to enjoy exploring once you determine places you do want to see while there.

When all else fails and there is no give on your limited time, nothing much can help the situation other than your attitude towards it.

At that point I say embrace the weather conditions and decide to enjoy yourself anyway- do a little exploring, as much as your umbrella and temperament will allow and shoes will absorb. Some of my favorite images and funny moments have been during drizzly raw days.

The memory of my adventure to find Bow Church  in the East End of London during a very windy wet day comes to mind.

I can look back on it and laugh now that I’m dry but oh how I got so lost, broke my umbrella and had to employ the help of a group of young lads getting off school to take me to the High Street as I had completely lost my bearings. I was on such a MISSION to find this church even as I was biffed relentlessly on the head by my own umbrella. My determination paid off and it was so worth it! The pictures I captured in the rain of that centuries old medieval structure had a haunting mystique I would have never been able to duplicate on a sunny day.
All in all, rainy days can still be salvaged while on holiday. (And let’s be sure not to confuse rainy with dangerous monsoons, cyclones, etc. I cannot stress enough that you research the seasonal climate for the destination you are planning to visit prior to booking.

While we can never control what Mother Nature is going to do, even at her most relaxed moments, you can lessen the likelihood of complete cancellation havoc by checking and possibly avoiding certain destinations during the aforementioned periods.)

So, remind yourself to be flexible, have back up plans and if nothing else, enjoy beautiful pictures taken under different conditions.

To me, there’s a special quality in photos that have captured raindrops on them; a little artsy, perhaps even avant-garde!

Wellington Arch,  Hyde Park – London

Entrance to St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican

So even on rainy days, just “let your smile be your umbrella” as they say, no matter what the weather mi gente! Remember, you’re on an adventure so make it a great one even if it’s a little wet!