Weather, Weather, Weather: How to travel with blue skies (or feel like you are)

To me, there’s not much better than a 25 degree day in a new city.  Blue skies, sunshine, flowers in full bloom.  This is what holiday dreams are made of!

But how do you make sure you get this weather?
Or what happens when you anticipate the 25 degree sunny weather or to discover that mother nature had a different plan?

Surviving a sandstorm in the UAE.
Surviving a sandstorm in the UAE. Not the weather we’re known for here, but a really interesting opportunity to see some cool weather and local dealings.

Firstly, do your research on the weather.  Lots of websites including Lonely Planet to The Weather Network offer weather norms for destinations.  Make sure you try to look up the city rather than the country – you want the report to be as accurate as possible.

Okay, so now you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to pack.  Now what?!   Pack mostly for your anticipated weather, but don’t forget to pack for the what ifs: what if it’s colder than you expected?! what if it rains?!  I don’t mean the craziest of weather (you can always go to a retail store to shop if it suddenly starts snowing in Accra), but bring along some long sleeves and an umbrella “just in case”.

usual sunny blue skies in the UAE. what most of us strive for in a vacation!
usual sunny blue skies in the UAE. what most of us strive for in a vacation

Cool.  So now you’ve arrived, you have those ‘just in case’ extras, and you realize they’re probably all you’re going to be using for the next week.  In sum: it’s supposed to be sunny in June at your destination, but instead it’s cold and rainy.  What to do?!?!?

First, take a moment to realize that, yes, it sucks.  It’s okay to admit this.

Second, now be determined not to let your trick suck on account of the weather.  Rather, commit yourself to finding ways to have an AWESOME time in these circumstances.  How????

1 – Ask around! Remember, this isn’t the first time the locals have experienced this weather.  Ask at your hotel or hostel, at restaurants, shops, wherever you happen to be…ask locals the best advice for what to do on this cold/rainy/snowy day.

2 – Look online. A quick google search of “what to do in Munich in winter” brought me to tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g187309-r91740479-Munich_Upper_Bavaria_Bavaria.html  EXCELLENT!

A beautiful snowy (albeit freezing) night in Salzburg.
A beautiful snowy (albeit freezing) night in Salzburg.

Or, check out local blogs.  Jamie Monk has been blogging since 1999 on his page Jamie’s Phuket – http://www.jamiesphuket.com  He has great tips for any time of year, including weather variances.

3 – Enjoy some R & R.  Even if the intent of your vacation was climbing a mountain that is now too dangerous to climb, everyone can use some time for relaxation and inward focus.  Check out a spa or a yoga class or a be a guest at a local reading club.  Or just go to a local coffee shop and find your inner writer/reader/writer/photographer.  Check out online discount sites like http://www.groupon.come for good offers (be sure to google search your country/city + discounts to reveal the most widely used sites there. for example, dealgobbler.com and cobone.ae are awesome in the UAE).

4 – Re-write your goals.  Whether or not we write them down, we all have goals for our vacation.  Snorkelling, relaxing, eating the best local fish…our goals subconsciously determine our perceived success of the trip.  If the weather isn’t what you expected, more than likely your goals will have to change to ensure that you can consider your travel a “success.”  Think about new goals and new ideas.  And branch out – sometimes being in new surroundings where no one knows you is exactly the place that gives you the courage to try something new.

A rainy day in Sri Lanka was a great opportunity to explore the tea plantations!
A rainy day in Sri Lanka was a great opportunity to explore the tea plantations!

5 – Be grateful for your experience.  It is a rare day when we experience rain or a sandstorm in the UAE, but when we do I always think about all those tourists who were probably expecting a beach day and are currently disappointed.  BUT REALLY…those tourists get to experience the culture of a place that isn’t used to rain…or the culture of dealing with a sandstorm.  From an experiential traveller perspective, this is a great opportunity to experience something that is unique.

6 – Lastly, use the opportunity to have more local experiences.  As a Canadian, let me tell you about winter.  Winter is the time when common courtesy and politeness is maximized.  For example, there’s a well-known unspoken rule that if you’re leaving a building (i.e. any shop or restaurant), you let the people from the outside in before you exit the building.  You hold the door open for them and wait until they come in before you exit.  Why?! Because it’s bloody freezing out there!  The winter is when everyday strangers will dig people out of the ditch, say to strangers “pretty cold out here, eh?!” and strike up a conversation inside a coffee shop because it’s 5 pm, it’s dark outside, and everyone is joined by that one common reality – it’s freezing and we’re stuck inside!

Having weather unlike you anticipated can be disappointed.  But don’t let it ruin your trip!  Instead, embrace it! And come back with an interesting story or 10 to share!

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