I had it all planned out – 2 weeks in Iceland, rental car, driving the Ring Road. In the weeks before my trip, I picked out which locations I wanted to visit, which side roads I wanted to take, and which hikes I wanted to try. Confidently, I boarded my plane to Iceland, excited to see some striking scenery and have some amazing photo opportunities.
Then, an unfortunate surprise met me: it rained, poured, snowed, or stormed every single day while I was in there. Not only that, but it was cold for summertime, even by Iceland’s standards.
What was the worst part of all of this? I had planned on camping almost every night of the trip. Obviously that didn’t happen, though we were still able to camp most nights. And, while I was still able to capture a lot of really breathtaking photos, a lot of the time the mountains and glaciers were covered in a thin (or brick wall-thick) layer of clouds. It’s not fun driving for hours on end looking at nothing but stone-gray fog.
Despite all of this, I still fully enjoyed my trip and didn’t feel like I missed out on too much. I still saw some incredible waterfalls and chilled out by some monstrous glaciers. The traveler in me didn’t want to waste a second in this unique place, so I had to get past the rain and the cold somehow. These are a couple of the ways I make the best of run-ins with bad weather while on the road.
We often plan trips months in advance, so why let a few days of bad weather ruin all of the money, time, and excitement you’ve put into a trip?
Of course, going out in bad weather can only go so far – it’s not necessarily safe to be out in a thunderstorm, a blizzard, or a hail storm. However, if it’s just drizzling or foggy, why not try to enjoy the outdoors anyway? When traveling, always pack a raincoat or at least a poncho or umbrella so you can still enjoy being outside on those days when the weather is a little gloomy.
Sometimes, braving the weather can even be better than sunny weather. The rain can help you feel refreshed and cooled down during long hikes or walks, and you can capture stunning photos like this one!
Take Advantage of Breaks
When rain is prolonged, for days or even weeks at a time, it’s normal to find breaks in the downpour with just cloudy skies. Take advantage of these! When I saw a few miles of dry weather, I would stop to take photos or catch a breath of fresh air. There was one particular break during my trip in Iceland that gave us a stunning, blue-sky view of a fjord.
They call it a break for a reason, though, so if the wind starts picking up or you can tell that the rain is on its way, head back indoors if you don’t want to get wet. And if you do get caught in the rain? Enjoy getting soaked and have a funny story to tell your friends later.
If you know that there’s a chance that the weather will be less-than-optimal, pack accordingly. I like to travel with layers, so I’ll typically bring up to 5 things I can layer on top of each other to stay warm and dry. Layers can also help with rain; if your top layer is soaked through, you can take it off and replace it as needed. In your bag, you should also always have waterproof clothing and closed-toed shoes in case of rain, and a thick, roomy coat or sweater for the cold. If you pack the appropriate items, you can more easily survive bad weather without compromising being outdoors.
Look For Patterns
During the first few days of camping in Iceland, it was fairly consistent that we would set up our tent in dry air in the evening and wake up with rain in the morning. These kinds of patterns seem to be common in many areas with prolonged periods of rain. If you can get a grasp of any weather patterns, especially during certain times of day, you can plan around them to figure out the best times to be outdoors and indoors. Alternatively, you can also figure out the times of day when it rains the hardest so that you know what activities you shouldn’t be doing at certain times.
If All Else Fails, There’s Always Food
If you can’t catch a break in the terrible weather, then trying the local cuisine can give you a reason to stay indoors while also learning more about the culture and potentially meeting people in the process! Step into a café to learn about the art or music scene in the area. Try a more “divey” restaurant for cheap, local eats. Or, if food isn’t your thing, try a museum, a gallery, or an indoor market building to stretch your legs and see important aspects of local life and history. During especially cold days in Iceland, Vienna, New York, Chicago, and many other places I’ve visited, I’ve sought refuge in cute, hidden coffeehouses and people-watched the whole day, and sometimes it’s led me to new friends and wonderful stories to tell.