We’ve all been there. You spend months planning and looking forward to a special vacation ― only to arrive and find that it rains much of the time.
No matter how many sacrifices you offer up to the weather gods, the reality is that the radar just isn’t on your side sometimes. But that doesn’t mean your trip is ruined by any means.
Below, travel experts share their advice for making rainy vacation days more enjoyable.
Take this time to recharge.
Don’t let the stress of unexpected rain take away the relaxation of being on vacation. You can still use this time to recharge, especially if you’ve taken time off work.
“No one wants it to rain on their trip, but it’s important to remember that any time away is still a vacation,” Casey Brogan, a consumer travel expert at Tripadvisor, told HuffPost. “Use rainy days to relax and truly unwind, whether it be by streaming a show you’ve been wanting to finish, playing games with your loved ones or even enjoying an afternoon at a spa nearby.”
Consider pivoting to a full-on self-care day and focus on being kind to your body and mind. Take a long bath, read a fun book or spend some time journaling.
“If rain has dampened your tropical vacation, have a spa day — or, for the more active type, hit the gym,” said Laura Ratliff, senior editorial director of TripSavvy. “Some resorts even offer exercise classes tailored to the destination — think muay thai in Thailand or yoga in India.”
Connect with your travel companions.
“Take a rain event as an opportunity to spend even more close personal time with the people you are on your trip with,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer. “Whether you are with a spouse, your kids, family members or friends, take the extra time to enjoy the moment of just being together. Do not sulk over the rain, but instead spend some carefree time with the people most important to you.”
He emphasised that you should take the opportunity to really enjoy your conversations. If you’re with small children, make up a fun game about staying inside and spend quality time together.
“The day might turn out better than if there were no rain and you were out doing activities,” Dengler told HuffPost. “And if you are by yourself, take the moment to reflect and enjoy your own company.”
Konrad Waliszewski, co-founder and CEO of Tripscout, said rain can sometimes provide an opportunity to connect with strangers as well.
“Some of my best travel memories actually happened because a group of random people all escaped into the nearest shelter together, such as spending an afternoon making new friends in an Irish pub or playing board games in an island hut,” he said. “In both examples, I met more people and learned more about culture than if I had been able to stick to my original plan.”
Plan some epic food and drink experiences.
“Many activities outside can be rescheduled or refunded,” Dengler said. “If it rains, see how you can adjust your schedule for any planned activities and instead do things that are weatherproof. Eating and drinking are enjoyable to almost everyone.”
He suggested taking a brewery or winery tour and venturing out to try local dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do your research and make a list of interesting foods you’d like to try while you’re in town.
You can arrange a guided — or self-guided — food tour or reserve a tasting at a restaurant. You could even go to the grocery store and buy local ingredients to cook a special meal with your travel companions if you’re staying at a place with a full kitchen.
Get to know the local culture indoors.
Brogan pointed out that many indoor cultural activities are available at most travel destinations.
“Museums, for instance, [and other] theatre or indoor entertainment options are an amazing way to learn more about a destination’s culture,” she said. “And, of course, for the non-history or art buffs, you can’t go wrong shopping or dining out.”
Browsing local stores, especially vintage shops and used bookstores, can offer an interesting insight into the local culture, and you might find some really unique items to take home.
“Taking virtual or indoor classes in cooking of the local cuisine, pottery or other art would be really cool,” said Stephanie Be, a travel blogger and founder of Buena. “My personal favourite is using the time to write postcards to my favourite people. It would also be a good time to revisit your travel planning to prioritise how to spend time outside of the rain.”
“It is so important to check weather conditions where you visit,” said Michael Lindsay of the travel content duo Michael & Matt. “If the goal is to be outside most or all of the time, you really want to pick and choose seasons of travel. This is especially true in tropical places. We always look up the rainy season and try to plan around it.”
Even if you are traveling to a destination during a less-than-ideal weather situation, knowledge is power. Lindsay noted that even though he and his husband’s honeymoon in Thailand took place during the rainy season, they were prepared.
“We didn’t have much money to spend and the rainy season is low season for tourists, so things were much cheaper,” he said. “It did not rain constantly, but we were in a pretty hot environment most of the time with high humidity. Umbrellas and ponchos were our friends. If you know you are going in offseason to avoid crowds or get a bang for your buck, make sure there are indoor activities that you will enjoy.”
“Research the destination and if you know you will be visiting during the rainy season, try out your rain boots before the trip,” Roth told HuffPost. “I learned the hard way by rocking new boots in Glasgow, Scotland. As cute as my boots were, my blisters were not. Rain can often be fun if your socks don’t get wet and you have the right jacket and bag.”
Spend time outdoors anyway.
“First things first: Who said everyone hates the rain?” Be said. “Sassiness aside, discussing expectations with your travel companions is a must before any trip. Maybe your wanderlust warrior doesn’t mind getting a little wet. It’s OK to want different things, and so setting a tone of ‘I don’t like the rain,’ ‘I expect XYZ excursions/activities versus total relaxation time’ or ‘This is how I feel about the budget’ can prevent problems from coming to life.”
So if your group doesn’t mind forging on with your plans in spite of the rain, go for it. You might even find that certain outdoor attractions are far less crowded in wet conditions.
“As long as it’s warm and there are no thunderstorms, there’s nothing wrong with being in the water!” said Jessica van Dop DeJesus, a travel media specialist and blogger at The Dining Traveler. “You will catch me at the beach under a deluge!”
If you have children and the conditions aren’t unsafe, they might enjoy running and playing outside in the rain. This can be a fun way to make memories as a family.
“When your plans are thrown off by rain, embrace it!” Waliszewski said. “Travel is not about seeing the perfect postcard expectation you had in your mind. It’s about experiencing the world as it is. And that means sometimes, it rains.”