There are lots of things that you can plan for when you’re going abroad – where to stay, what to see, who you go with, etc. But one variable that is always uncontrollable is the weather and, if the weather is a bit more unusual than expected, it could have some drastic consequences for your trip. In the worst-case scenarios, it could even potentially ruin your holiday. I’d like to recount some personal stories of bad weather, and some advice about how to cope.
I’m not a fan of particularly hot weather, yet I seem to have travelled through my fair share of heatwaves. A few years back, my sister and I headed to Berlin and Prague for a week – the holiday was booked months in advance, but weather conditions meant that we wound up abroad at the time of a continent-wide heatwave. In the Czech Republic, it was the hottest temperature that had ever been recorded, passing 40°C, leading to shops and businesses having to shut.
We looked after ourselves and we survived the heat, but we saw that others weren’t so lucky
It was tough, and we had to plan regular drink breaks and look for shade wherever we went. Watermelon became a staple – we bought a huge chunk from a local supermarket every day for breakfast, and we filled our day with tons of ice creams. We looked after ourselves and we survived the heat, but we saw that others weren’t so lucky. One day, we went on a walking tour of the city, and we lost two members of the group that day that collapsed from heatstroke. As temperature gets increasingly higher, lots of fluids and sun protection is a must.
The rain and the wind made getting back to the hostel almost impossible – I could barely see and, buffeted by the storm, I could barely even walk forward
I’ve been unlucky enough to face the other extreme too. I was in New York about six years ago, and there was a subway station about five blocks from the hostel. At the end of the day, as I caught the train, it was starting to rain – when I emerged five minutes later, it had broken out into a full rain storm (I later found out that it was the tail end of a hurricane). The rain and the wind made getting back to the hostel almost impossible – I could barely see and, buffeted by the storm, I could barely even walk forward. What was normally a couple of minutes’ walk became a strategic manoeuvre of half an hour or so, with me hiding in doorways and behind trees as I desperately attempted to finish my journey. By the time I made it, I must have been double the weight with the water I had accumulated.
Freak weather conditions are one thing, but I want to share a few tales of natural disaster too – dealing with rain and heat should be expected to an extent, but you can’t really plan for a fully-fledged disaster. I suffered this hurricane, and I’ve been through a few small earthquakes (it’s a strange feeling, and I really feel for anyone trapped in a big one), but I’ve never had anything too bad. I’d like to mention my sister again, though, because one of her holidays was completely ruined by a natural disaster.
She was fine, but she’d wanted to spend the holiday on the beach and visiting the island, and the hurricane shut down that plan very quickly
She was in Hawaii a couple of years back, and was aware that there was a risk of hurricanes striking the island – when she left, she was told there was a fifty-fifty chance that it would happen. Obviously, as it transpired, it did – the holiday was full of hurricane alarms going off, and she spent a lot of the trip in the hotel hurricane shelter, as we watched on anxiously from home. She was fine, but she’d wanted to spend the holiday on the beach and visiting the island, and the hurricane shut down that plan very quickly.
In the worst cases, you’ll likely have weather warnings before you go, so keep an eye on that and make sure you’re prepared. But otherwise, it’s just reasonable precautions and contingency plans – it’s annoying to suffer bad weather, but you shouldn’t let it spoil your travels.