Welcome to the first monthly Celebrate Travel blog carnival sponsored by The Mother of all Trips, Walking On Travels, and WanderMom. Every month we’re going to have a little party in honor of a different quirky holiday in the way that we best love: By sharing a curated list of themed blog posts from travel bloggers.
Did you know that March is National Umbrella Month? What better time to share tales of travel weather than during a month that celebrates one of the ultimate traveling necessities.
My own travel weather story actually has to do with a time when umbrellas were no help. It happened during our last full day on a trip to Paris in the summer of 2012. We were in the Tuileries Gardens on the giant Ferris wheel that takes up residence there next to the Louvre every summer. For a variety of reasons on this trip we had spent a fair bit of time in this large open space right in the center of the city and and every other time it had been gorgeously clear with a blue sky full of fluffy clouds worthy of a Fragonard painting. But that day it had already showered a few times earlier and we watched, a little uneasily, as clouds advanced across the gray sky in threatening line.
Please click on photos for full-size versions.
We disembarked and starting walking toward the Louvre. One minute I was speculating that the rain might start before we made it to the safe and dry confines of the Metro station, and the next, a drenching downpour blew in pushed by a shockingly fierce wind. It was as if someone had opened a spigot. In an instant, the water soaked not only my blouse and skirt, but my skin underneath. There was scarcely time to react, but seven-year-old Teddy did – with absolute and utter delight. He shrieked at the top of his lungs and tore along the crushed stone pathway toward the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the gateway to the Louvre’s courtyard built by Napoleon and the smaller first cousin of the huge arch that so famously dominates the Champs-Élysées. There was little option but to take off after him. My husband Matt and ten-year-old Tommy were somewhere behind, moving inexorably with the crowds of people for this small bit of shelter. I watched my youngest child galloping, breathless with laughter and started to giggle myself, not really sure just what was so funny.
Hundreds of strangers thronged under the arch, a dripping steaming mass of elbows and useless umbrellas. Those on the edges were pelted by the water that seemed to be coming from all directions including up out of the ground. Teddy continued to laugh and cry out, “I’m soaked Mommy! Just soaked to the bone!”
Then, almost as quickly as it had started, the rain stopped. We emerged, blinking.
If the quality of this photo isn’t too high, that’s hardly surprising given that Matt took it with his drenched phone, which stopped working immediately afterward (happily, it just needed to dry out). We had to make an immediate change of dinner plans, since going back to our apartment and putting on dry clothes was now imperative. But even with the inconvenient and cold Metro ride home, this remains one of my favorite moments of our trip. It felt like such an adventure to be soaking wet in the middle of Paris and it created a memory that all of us will pull out and polish as we retell it for years to come – much more so than simply riding the Ferris wheel would do.
There’s something about Paris that brings out travel weather stories I’m guessing. Cassie of Ever In Transit shares the story of how she found travel inspiration from a red, polka dot umbrella in the movie Amélie
Lisa of Gone With the Family also experienced unexpected rain – and unexpected joy from it – in a European garden, saying “We don’t generally look forward to rainy days when traveling but we have learned over the years that there isn’t much one can do about the weather other than roll with it. On a trip to Copenhagen we also discovered that there can be an upside to damp weather when visiting an amusement park such as Tivoli Gardens. When it rains…the crowds stay away.”
Jody at Ireland with Kids also believes that rain is something to be embraced, writing “Ireland is famous for it’s 40 shades of green. And equally as famous for how it gets so green- lots of rain! As the saying goes, ‘If the Irish waited on the weather, they would be forever waiting.’ And that is exactly the attitude visitors should take, as well.” Get her tips on rain gear for Ireland.
Long-term traveler Charli at Wanderlusters shares that sometimes even the best-laid plans regarding appropriate rain gear can go awry – and that this will inevitably happen when you need the gear most, say in a wet and tropical place like Costa Rica. (Plus she taught me a new vocabularly word: Cagoule. Look it up.)
Keryn from Walking On Travels acknowledges also that rain can be a nightmare to deal with while traveling, but says “it can also create unexpected encounters between the locals and fellow travelers. “Our family experienced the generosity of a stranger while traveling through Kyoto with our son in 2011. Some moments on the road soak into your toes, just like that rain falling down from the sky.”
The United States and it’s national parks are of course an awe-inspiring place to experience rain, although Sandra at Albany Kid says her son may not think so. “My son’s 10th birthday was one he’ll never let us forget. After hiking 13 miles in the backwoods of Yellowstone National Park during an unrelenting rain storm, he couldn’t stay awake long enough for even a bite of the birthday cake. But he got a story out of that ordeal that’s been rewarded with many a sweet treat.”
Further west still, Amy Whitley writes about the rain in the Pacific Northwest saying, “When you visit Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, you expect rain, and lots of it. There’s no reason it should deter you. We spent three rain-soaked days amid the flora and fauna, crashing surf and rain forests of Olympic National Park…and eventually dried off.”
New Orleans is a place to learn about the pleasures of sightseeing in the rain, as Michaela writes at AweInclusive, “The skies darkened as we snapped pictures of storefronts and signs. Sight-seeing in New Orleans offered the perfect mix of naughty and nice to keep us ducking into various shops and exploring the wares. The first drop of rain gently tapped my shoulder. I gave Mother Nature my full attention, eyes to the gray sky trying to determine how long before we were soaked.”
Of course, sometimes escaping the rain can lead to some unexpected (and possibly delicious) fun as Terri from Travel 50 States with Kids discovered. “Not wanting to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield in the pouring rain, we made a split-second decision to detour to the Sweetest Place on Earth: Hershey, Pennsylvania. Sometimes the cloud has a silver lining, and other times it’s lined with chocolate.”
You probably don’t think much about what happens to Mickey Mouse when it rains, and indeed, Walt Disney World is a fun place for a family vacation. But Orlando’s variable weather often can make the experience less than wonderful. Beth from The Vacation Gals provides some tips for dealing with rainy days at the Walt Disney World theme park.
And just what happens when that rain turns into snow? Tawanna at Mom’s Guide to Travel doesn’t mind getting caught in certain types of weather while her family is traveling, saying “We recently got caught in a snow storm in the Pocono Mountains and though it was totally unexpected, it was appropriate. And thankfully, we had all the necessary layers, ski wear, goggles, and hand warmers we needed to weather the storm. In a situation like this, an umbrella would have been useless (and less fun).
For people living in Minnesota, winter weather is always a consideration in travel planning. When snow and ice threatened to cancel a Christmas trip for Linda of Minnemom, creativity jumped in, and the phrase, “What’s another 500 miles?” entered her family’s travel parlance. Read the first-hand account of how a weather detour changed her family’s path to Texas.
Allison at Tips for Family Trips also knows a thing or two about snow, living as she does in Utah. She shares three great stories about travel weather, and the lessons she learned from them (My favorite? “Sometimes, off-season weather is your friend.”)
Let’s not forget the opposite of snow and rain which is scorching heat. Nicole from Arrows Sent Forth spent a week vacationing with two young kids and no air conditioning last summer when the temps hit the upper 90s in northern Michigan. She shares many ways to keep the whole family cool, from babies to grandparents, and a few products you should be sure to pack if you’ll be traveling during a heat wave.
And finally, sometimes travelers have to be prepared to take shelter from travel weather events in unlikely places; as Jessica from Suitcases and Sippycups reveals, there’s no place like Walmart.