Learning to love the rain: don’t let bad weather ruin your vacation

If you take the sunny and tropical out of a sunny, tropical paradise, what exactly is left? Lonely Planet contributor Chris Dong explores how to travel when the weather just isn’t what you expect.

Most terrestrial animals seek shelter from the rain in a tree or log, under rocks or leaves, or underground. Meanwhile, humans have engineered manmade ways to dodge a downpour. Umbrellas and ponchos help prevent – but don’t completely eliminate – skin-to-skin contact with the elements. 

Kids are sometimes allowed to frolic in it, but doing so as an adult is ripe for potential derision and ridicule – or, at the very least, a raised eyebrow. The truth is, we’ve been culturally predisposed to pretty much hate when it rains. 

Fair-weather guarantee?

Inclement weather is an opportunity to do something new and different © Andrey Pavlov / Stocksy

Sensible Weather, a so-called “climate risk technology company,” goes as far as guaranteeing fair weather while on the road. The company’s first hospitality partnerships launched this spring, with the Renwick Hotel in New York City and Le Parc on Melrose in Los Angeles. Think of it as “bad” weather insurance: if the forecast takes a turn (and you preselected coverage when booking), Sensible will reimburse the cost of the hotel stay. 

Until such a service permeates all aspects of life, a money-back guarantee for an unexpected shower isn’t likely to happen. Perhaps then, we can look at things from an alternate perspective. Maybe the issue isn’t so much that it’s too rainy outside (or too hot, too cold, or too whatever) but the notion you think that it shouldn’t be. The weather is just the weather. And we’re all along for the ride. 

Without rain, there would be no rainbows © Anna Berkut / Stocksy

On so many of my trips – whether it was hiking Bali’s Mt Batur in a torrential downpour or languishing in the extreme heat and humidity in Delhi – conditions were less than ideal. In those moments, it’s easy to place blame (and trust me, I did). However, there came a point when I started flipping the script. Feeling disappointed by the weather is normal, but can we look for ways to accept whatever atmospheric phenomena are thrust upon us? With the world’s climate inevitably changing, this is conceivably the only way forward.  

Shelter from the storm

“I didn’t sign up for this,” I recently muttered under my breath as I looked out into the interior courtyard of my apartment building, a carport-equipped Southern California complex. It was raining. Again. 

Nine months earlier, I decided to move here – in part for the endless blue sky. (On average, there are 284 sunny days per year in Los Angeles.) Yet here we were: another dreary, precipitation-filled day in a place that sold me on eternal sunshine. Then, I remembered I had been wanting to visit Bergamot Station Arts Center, a collection of indoor art galleries – and my afternoon was salvaged. 

When it rains, you score – all the pizza © Jimena Roquero / Stocksy

The next time there’s an overcast day – or heaven forbid, a rainy one – take stock of what you can control. Sample the local cuisine. Take joy in sleeping in. Wear a poncho and be the only person exploring the sights. Get introspective and write in a journal. Heck, even be that person frolicking in the rain.

Whatever you do, it’s time to start making peace with what Mother Nature provides. 

This article was first published May 8, 2023 and updated Jul 9, 2024.

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