10 Tips For When It Rains On Your Vacation


I could see it so clearly in my mind, it was already real to me. We were going to spend our time before Kate’s wedding in Hawaii catching rays, piña coladas in hand. I would read, Peter would swim, and we would sandwich any island excursions snugly between beach sessions. I saw myself deeply bronzed as I returned to work, becoming the envy of the office.

Of course, it rained every day leading up to our friend’s wedding.

Rain on vacation is never ideal, but inclement weather doesn’t have to mean your trip is ruined! Our Hawaiian holiday was a different kind of trip than I had anticipated, but we loved every second of it. Whether your destination is warm and tropical or a sleek city, these ten tips can help you make the most of your damp circumstances.

Rain in Lisbon, Portugal

Eat & Drink Your Way Around The City

Is your destination a foodie haven? A craft brewery capital? Pack an umbrella and take yourself on a self guided food tour! Challenge yourself to find the best empanada in Buenos Aires, learn the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Franc in Napa, or sample Spanish cheeses at a tapas bar. You could potentially pick up a new skill, meet new people or learn about the history of the place that you’re visiting. Parisian café culture helped foster the revolutionary spirit in France, so grab a coffee and croissant, and count it as one very tasty lesson.

Bed Party!

Weather stinks? Stay in bed! A rainy day during your trip can act as a necessary break from a hectic schedule. It may not always feel like it, but nothing on vacation is mandatory. Rather than trying to tough it out and accomplish as much sight-seeing as possible, order food in and binge on that series you’ve been meaning to watch. Don’t worry about dropping crumbs in bed; Snacks + Netflix + Not your sheets = Heaven.

Rain in Xi’an, China

Visit a Unique Museum

It was, admittedly, predictable that museums would make the list, but that doesn’t mean the museum’s subject has to be! Delight in the oddity of the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Passau’s Dachshund Museum or catch the traveling Museum of Ice Cream (currently in San Francisco). Museums really not your thing? Visit an aquarium! The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu is the second oldest public aquarium in the United States, and helps give your beach vacation a dose of Vitamin Sea- even in the rain.

Send Snail Mail

Grab a handful of postcards and get to writing! Send one to your mom, best friend, work place – whoever you can think of! Not only will a card make the recipient’s day, writing about your trip will help you reflect on your vacation. What are the highlights? Have you tried something new? As a matter of fact, send a postcard to yourself!

Rain in Vienna, Austria


Set yourself up in a cozy chair in the lobby and read! Read the books you’ve had sitting on your “to be read” pile, read about where you are, read the newspaper – read, read, read! I promise that Death in Yellowstone is even more interesting while you’re actually IN Yellowstone National Park. When it clears up, go around and experience what you just read! Understanding the setting of your book opens up a whole other way of reading.

Rain in Miami, Florida

Treat Yo’ Self to a Spa Day

It’s hard to feel bad about much with freshly painted nails. Don’t forget to ask the nail tech to finish your pedicure with a flower- you’re on vacation, after all. But what if you brought along a partner who’s not interested in a manicure? Indulge in a couples massage or, if you’re feeling bold, hit up a true sauna in the alps. My first sauna experience in Germany was definitely, ahem, eye opening to the cultural differences between the US and Europe, but by the time we made it to Austria I adjusted. If you would like to avoid being caught off guard and making a fool of yourself on your first visit, read more here.

Trade Precipitation for Perspiration

Sweat it out in the hotel’s fitness center, or use an app to find a fitness class near by. At home in Milwaukee, I use MINDBODY, and it works all over the country. See last minute deals, search by activity and pay for it all on the app! Just be ready for the abuelitas in Miami to step in circles around you at zumba class (speaking from experience).

Snow in Chicago, Illinois

See A Show

I’ve been out of the game for a while, but here’s a tip you can use for dates at home: See the show first, have dinner second. That way even if you have nothing in common with your companion, you still have something to talk about. Keeping this idea in mind while you’re on vacation, catch a matinee showing of a film produced locally or the city opera, then discuss with your traveling partners over drinks. Looking for after dinner entertainment? Check out the bars for live music. If you like the intimate feel of small jazz clubs, seek out a Fado bar in Lisbon.

Do It For The Insta

Brave the rain and take advantage of the deserted streets to get a unique perspective on areas that are normally packed. Charles Bridge in Prague looks particularly moody in unfavorable weather, and the neon lights of the Shanghai skyline take on softer edges through the mist. Try to capture the romance of it all, post your picture to Instagram and watch the likes roll in.

Rain in Basel, Switzerland

Catch the Sunset

To get those dramatic sunset pictures, you need clouds in the sky. If, after a rainy day, conditions begin to improve, I urge you to get outside and watch the sun set. This last point is less about specifically watching the sunset, and more about discovering joy and choosing happiness as you travel. Weather will not always be perfect, bags will get lost, and the hotel will not always be up to par, but how you react to these events sets the tone for your entire trip. Being negative is like packing bricks into your suitcase, it’ll just slow down the fun.


After the Rain in Kahuku, Hawaii

In the end, I hope you never need these tips, but we’ll all see rain at some point. What do you do when the weather doesn’t cooperate? Let me know!

Pictures are from my own rainy trips.