How to Survive Weather Woes

Mark Twain said, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

We’ve had our fair share of bad weather on vacation, hurricanes in Florida, ice storms in Alabama, snow in Ohio. (Oh wait, that’s normal!)  In Hawaii, my husband and I had the misfortune of being on Kauai during a bizarre weather pattern that dropped rain like the island hadn’t seen in over 100 years, something the locals pointed out time and time again. (I patiently await a do-over for that vacation!)

Flowering tree. See the water droplets?
In the hotel garden, beautiful even in the rain.

Another time, we took a Disney trip before the school year began. We know it’s risky to plan a Florida vacation in August as hurricane season is revving up. But, Orlando is not on the coast. Disney World employees are phenomenal at running the park in any weather. We honestly believed that at worst, we’d experience a couple rainy days. We were wrong!

Florida experienced a weather record of its own — a tropical storm making landfall in the state FOUR times! Tropical Storm Fay criss-crossed the state four times, passing just south and north of Orlando. We had a soggy week! See our ponchos, tattered and torn? We wore them every single day for seven straight days!

Planning a vacation for the perfect season, factoring in rainfall and temperature averages, might lessen the incidence of bad weather. However, the weather will do what it wants! Packing properly can minimize the impact of bad weather on your vacation enjoyment. Through our years of misfortune (I do exaggerate a bit…), we have developed some great strategies to enjoy ourselves no matter what the weather!

5 travel tips for unexpected weather

Pack for Rain. Ponchos, pocket umbrellas and rain jackets that fold to fit inside one of the pockets offer rain protection without taking much space in the suitcase. Just tuck them into the corners and  if you need them, you’ve got them. Of course, you can also pay $10.00 for the rain ponchos sold at amusement parks, but is that really the souvenir you want? Walmart is cheaper and the ponchos work just as well. Also consider quick dry shoes, moisture wicking socks and sports shorts, all of which dry quicker than traditional items. We pack one pair of sports shorts and socks for each member of the family in case of rain.

Hotel driveway collapsed from below. With rain like this, everything gets wet.
I wore Teva sandals the whole week and may have had the happiest feet on the island.

Anticipate the Cold. Sometimes it’s not rain but cold weather that arrives unexpectedly. We visited an amusement park one July and were shocked that the temperature never rose above 57 degrees. We did not bring jackets — it’s never that cold in July, right? Wrong! After forking out a large sum for sweatshirts to keep the kids warm, we learned to always pack a jacket or sweatshirt “just in case.” They come in handy on flights as well, used as pillows or clothes!

Consider Travel Insurance. If your vacation represents a significant investment AND is weather dependent (a ski trip doesn’t work well without snow), you may want to consider travel insurance. On our Hawaii trip, the hotel refunded several nights of our stay because of the service interruption. Carefully explore this option to determine if it’s right for you and read the fine print!

Dont’ Blame the Hotel Staff. When vacation weather does not cooperate, frustration can set in. The hotel staff did not create the weather. They do not control the weather. And they cannot change it either. No matter how much you complain!

With all the problems in Hawaii, there were lots of angry hotel guests; free nights and food didn’t help all that much. One man actually pounded on the counter and demanded that the staff do something about it. I stood meekly in line behind him… And then I stepped in (I don’t recommend you try this), “Sir, if you believe that she can change the weather, then I’d like to know today’s lottery numbers.”

I did not get punched in the face.

He stomped off… and I asked for a room change. My husband and I spent the rest of our rainy Hawaiian days in a three room suite on the top floor, with turn down service and complimentary breakfast. Of course, our wraparound view of the ocean included a bird’s eye view of the National Guard trying to rebuild the beach, but it sure was a comfy place to wait out the storm!

Protecting the elevator shafts from flooding in the hotel
Three days of rainy heaven!

Embrace it. Twain is right, weather happens. We can’t control it. Why not embrace the challenge? Pack puzzles, board games, and/or cards for entertainment if it gets too wet, too cold or too hot to do anything else. Rent a movie and watch it in pajamas while feasting on junk food. Or, do what we did in Florida (and Hawaii), get wet and don’t worry about it!

We took this Disney photo, the last day of our vacation (my daughter didn’t want to go home yet, hence the frown) in front of a hurricane warning sign. We had passed that sign every day and laughed at the “sign of the times.” Once we got to the airport, we gathered our chairs in a corner and had a poncho shredding party. Yes, we drew a few strange looks, but a few other weather-beaten travelers joined in. 

Disney World, August 2008. Our family and Tropical Storm Fay got to know each other quite well!

Whether you like it or not, bad weather happens. Enjoy the time, whether you do what you had planned or not!

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