It might seem counterintuitive, but there are real benefits to traveling somewhere during the rainy season. Because the rainy season tends to be the “off” season for tourism, you’ll encounter fewer crowds and pay better prices on everything from hotels to popular activities. This means your travel budget will stretch further, and you’ll rack up tons of unique experiences.
If you’re planning to travel somewhere rainy, you’ll need to tweak your packing list to account for sudden downpours, muddy walkways, and so on. No matter if you’re taking a road trip, camping, or something else, you can weatherize your suitcase and gear with these packing tips for rainy destinations.
1. Remember your rain jacket
This probably goes without saying, but a rain jacket or poncho is a must-have for any rainy destination. Opt for thin, breathable materials that will pack down and take up little space in your bag, especially if you’re concerned about packing light. Ideally, the jacket should include an overhanging hood to keep rain off your face and be a little large so you have room to layer clothing underneath it. While you may want to bring a travel umbrella as well, a rain jacket will be much more effective for protecting you in windy places where rain whips in from all sides.
Plus, many hotels offer umbrellas for guest use. Inquire at the front desk if you’d like to borrow one.
2. Invest in quick-drying clothing
If you’re heading to a rainy area, cotton is not your friend. It soaks up moisture like a sponge and takes forever to dry. Ditto for denim. So leave behind the classic tees and jeans and bring along quick-drying clothing instead. Polyester-based and other synthetic fabrics (as well as most clothing tailored for exercise) should fit the bill. Bringing these fabrics will reduce the risk of clothes staying damp and mildewing in your suitcase. As an added bonus, these materials are much less bulky than cotton and denim—so you’ll save room (and weight) in your suitcase.
3. Pack appropriate footwear
Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re traveling somewhere rainy, leave your favorite kicks at home (unless they happen to be waterproof). Traveling typically involves lots of walking around outside, potentially on slippery surfaces, so your footwear should be up for the challenge (and you shouldn’t be devastated if your shoes get ruined). Opt for a pair of waterproof rain boots or hiking boots if you have the room, or pack old sneakers or sturdy sandals that you don’t mind getting muddy or wet. While it might be tempting to toss in a pair of flip flops and call it a day, be aware that they provide absolutely no traction—so it’s best to opt for something that’s less likely to send you tumbling to the sidewalk.
Tip: If you forgot to pack waterproof footwear, TripIt’s Nearby Places feature can help you locate stores near to where you’re staying to pick up the supplies you need for your trip.
4. Bring waterproofing materials
Plastic bags of all sizes can be a godsend when you’re traveling in a rainy area. Their uses are virtually endless: Stash your phone in a sturdy plastic zipping bag to protect it from rain, put wet shoes in a plastic bag so they don’t soak everything else in your suitcase, wrap a purse or backpack in a garbage bag, and so on. You might also consider investing in a legit rain cover for your pack and waterproof cases for your camera, cell phone, and laptop. This will help ensure none of your electronics are damaged by moisture—and you can reuse the gear over and over.
5. Include a travel towel
These handy towels are incredibly lightweight, compact, and quick-drying—which means they’re perfect for drying off after you’ve gotten caught in the rain. They’re especially handy for travelers who stay in hostels (since many hostels charge a towel fee) or plan to camp (since you’re responsible for bringing all your necessities with you).
6. Consider lighting
In many parts of the world, the rainy season is accompanied by rolling blackouts, so it’s immensely helpful to have your own source of lighting. Packing a compact, lightweight flashlight or headlamp (and keeping it on your person at all times) will ensure you’re never trapped in the dark. Just remember to put in a fresh pair of batteries before you leave for your trip.
In addition to these items, it’s also important to bring along your creativity whenever you’re traveling somewhere rainy. When you simply can’t tolerate wandering sopping-wet streets another day, you’ll need to come up with a plan B (or C, or D). The good news is that following these packing tips will significantly decrease rain’s impact on your trip.