“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” Staring out your hotel window at a day marred by precipitation, you might find yourself humming this nursery rhyme. You’ve traveled far and spent a lot of money to come on this vacation, and now your sightseeing plans are halted by an unexpected storm. What can you do to make the most out of a trip when the weather gets bad?
I asked myself this question when on a study abroad in England. And although many days were wet, those days turned out to be some of my favorite. One of these I spent in the village of Tudeley at All Saints’ Church. The church is the home of twelve stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, a Belorussian-born Jewish painter. The day I visited, the dreariness outside magnified the peace inside the church and the quiet beauty of Chagall’s artwork. Stained glass is often more brilliant when the sun shines through the colors, but the lack of bright sunlight that day softened the tone of the art and contributed to the serene atmosphere.
After carefully examining each window, I walked outside and admired the charming homes and fields surrounding the small chapel. The rain only added to the tranquil experience, and I didn’t mind getting wet for the picturesque views. I even walked through the mud to stand out in the open field and imagine living like a local. I don’t regret the stains on my walking shoes.
You might not enjoy standing in the rain or getting mud on your shoes to see a scenic view, but you too can enjoy traveling even when the weather suggests otherwise. Indoor activities can replace excursions or events cancelled due to inclement weather. Use Google Maps or www.yelp.com (or the Yelp app) to search by category (museums, restaurants, bookstores, arcades, etc.) for something to do that won’t leave you in the rain. To avoid getting wet in transit, plan ahead and budget for a taxi or a rideshare (www.uber.com, www.lyft.com, or their respective apps) so you don’t have to walk in a downpour.
Look around and see what the locals are doing to deal with the rain. They’re accustomed to the climate and have probably come up with ways to enjoy daily life even when the weather gets gloomy. Ask the waiter at dinner, your Airbnb host, or your talkative neighbor on the bus for suggestions. Visit www.vayable.com to arrange experiences that will connect you with locals who can teach you their insider knowledge. (Keep this site in mind for every trip, not just those with rainy days.) Also browse www.likealocalguide.com to find insider recommendations and to post questions for locals to answer.
Embrace every day of your trip, even if the weather tries to bring you down. Look for hidden gems, like All Saints’ Church with its moving art and diverting surroundings. I suspect the extra effort to find a new activity will be better than singing nursery rhymes in your hotel room.