Being British we are inherently obsessed with the weather, it’s in our blood, there’s nothing we can do about it. Dreaming of blue skies and sunshine, before we set off on what we had initially planned to be a year long backpacking adventure, we agonised over temperature charts and rainfall counts. Just what were the best times to visit the countries we wanted to go to? In what order should we plan them into our itinerary? We should have saved ourselves the hassle.
You see the thing is, weather isn’t an exact science and if you are travelling extensively around a few regions as we did, it’s inevitable that you will run into a wet season in one country or another. We travelled over 2,800 miles from South to North China in just 30 days, it was an epic whirlwind adventure and there’s no way we could have done it without avoiding the odd shower. We learnt not to worry about something we couldn’t control.
We also quickly found out that there are actually numerous benefits to travel in rainy weather. And that the best thing to do is to pack accordingly and just embrace the rain - again something that goes against the grain with us Brits, but we manage it and so can you. So if you are British, or equally any other nationality, and you're concerned about dodging the downpours during your travels, let us dig into our best advice for preparing to travel in rainy season.
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Benefits to Travel in Rainy Season
Less Crowded Attractions
Any chance of rain automatically means less tourists. It’s understandable. Especially if you are from a rainy country like the UK and only have a couple of weeks holiday a year to escape it. The last thing you want is a wash out. Luckily for longer term travellers like us we can capitalise quite nicely on this. It rained the day that we explored the grandiose Angkor Wat Temples. But you know what? It was perfect because it only added to the mystique and meant that as tourists we weren’t standing on each others' heads to get the good views.
Less tourists also means less demand for accommodation. So hostels and guest houses are all competing with each other pricewise to draw you in. In the countries where we travelled during rainy season we found that we had much more negotiating power for haggling prices down. We usually book at least the first couple of nights beforehand when we are arriving in a new place. But in Laos we stopped doing this when a fellow traveller, who had not pre-booked, negotiated the exact same room we had for half the price!
More Comfortable Travel
Non-stop sunshine is all fun and games on the days where you can relax on the beach in your swimwear and take a dip in the sea or duck into a bar for a nice cool beer every now and then to cool down. Not so much when you’re carrying your entire life on your back, waiting in the slowest moving queue with zero shade, only to board a bus with knackered air-con. Sweating and stinking for anywhere between 8 and 20 hour drives, on these days we beg for the heavens to open and cool things off. And trust us, there have been plenty.
The Landscapes Are More Beautiful
We love city life, but we love getting out in nature more and travelling in wet season affords views of mother nature's landscapes like no other. The bright green, luscious foliage of Laos’ valleys and the wild overflowing expanses of the Cambodian jungles during monsoon season are simply gorgeous. It pretty much rained every day that we were in Laos but we wouldn’t change it for the world and in fact it is one of our favourite countries in Asia. We even completed a three day trek through the jungle there.
Pack For Rainy Weather
Good Quality Poncho
In terms of protecting yourself from the rain there are a number of options, but in our book, forget the umbrellas and the raincoats and just pack a poncho. I love them because they’re easy to sling on quickly, cover more of my body than a waterproof jacket and protect my day bag too. I have an awesome one from November Rain. Not only is it waterproof, it’s also windproof. It’s lightweight, really durable, has a convenient zip down the front and even a useful pocket. I love the funky design and it’s perfect for staying dry when travelling.
Quick Dry Sports Leggings
If you are planning on doing any kind of trekking while travelling in the wet season a good quality pair of sport leggings are a must. They are designed for the job, dry quickly and are still comfortable enough to wear when wet. Which means that you can keep your legs protected against all of nature’s nasties. From poisonous plants to leeches, trust me you are going to want something suitable covering your legs. Just one pair is enough. I have these Nike ones.
If you’ve read this post, you will already know that we don’t carry walking boots with us. We do a lot of trekking and having had to wade through one too many streams and rivers, we prefer sports trainers with good treads that dry out quickly. I also carry a pair of Merrell trekking sandals with me that are brilliant for walking in the rain. They’re designed to get wet so no problems there and because of the grip it’s pretty impossible to slip over in them. Other than that it’s Havaiana flip flops all the way for us. The funkier the colour, the better!
Dry Bags For Your Electronics
There aren’t many good quality backpacks that come without a waterproof cover but we would always recommend keeping anything you don’t want to get wet in a dry bag too. For us, working online, we simply can’t risk our laptops or phones getting water damaged. We also keep our passports and important travel documents in one. If you get into the habit of just packing your electronics into them it doesn’t matter if you get caught in a tropical monsoon. Your clothes will dry out, your iPad won’t.
The other thing to point out in terms of travel in rainy weather is that it rarely lasts long. In wet season in South East Asia for example, it would predictably rain early each afternoon at the same time for around an hour and then it would be blazing sunshine again. Backpacking during rainy season in South America we witnessed a few epic overnight electric thunderstorms but we loved them. The power of the blinding lightening bolts and deafening cracks of thunder were like nothing we’d ever experienced before and just became part of our incredible adventure there.
So if you’re fretting over travelling during rainy season, don’t. Take our advice, pack the right gear and embrace it. It’s all part of the excitement of travel.
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