There are few things that can spoil an overseas trip faster than bad weather. Being stuck inside your hotel room, not being able to enjoy the conditions you travelled so far for, being caught out without the right clothing or having your property water-damaged – these are just a few of the sour side effects that a storm cloud or two can bring to your holiday.
But when it comes to safe travel, bad weather can cause you more than just a few inconveniences. Serious issues such as missing a connecting flight, delayed travel or not making it to a special event can, in some cases, completely ruin an overseas adventure.
That’s why it’s important to be weather-wise when you travel internationally and make sure that you have great travel insurance in case the unexpected happens.
Know what to prepare for
It goes without saying, but doing in depth research before you fly will pay dividends. Don’t just check the forecast from your computer before you go, have a look at historical weather data and use online communities to get a sense of what the weather conditions are like according to locals. A great way to do this is to post a question in a travellers’ forum such as Virtual Tourist. They’ll be able to give you a humanised, realistic take on the weatherman’s technical data.
For those travelling with a smart device, take advantage of apps that will help you when you arrive. Region specific apps like Europe’s WeatherPro and USA’s National Weather Service mobile site are more reliable than most generic international weather predictions, so make sure you’ve got them downloaded or saved to your favourites for easy access.
If you’re travelling with children, you can encourage them to be smart about packing by using a fun cartoon website called ‘Do I need an umbrella?’ Simply type in the city you’ll be visiting for an interactive response!
Pack appropriate clothing and gear
With the insights that you’ll gain from historical data, local input and official apps, you’ll be able to prepare the right kind of clothing for your trip. If you will be travelling in between varying climates or season, you might like to consider these travel-friendly clothing options:
- Convertible pants: which can zip off at the knee.
- Down sleeping bags: insulate well but breathe comfortably and are light weight to pack.
- Lightweight travel clothing: dries overnight for easy wash ability.
- Fringe mesh: to cover shoulders in certain cultures, protect from insects and provide an extra layer of warmth.
For those going into extreme conditions and not wishing to make a big investment in gear, you can always choose to hire your weather-appropriate gear instead. This is great for trips to the snow, safari or time spent on the water.
Choose weather-safe transport options
A big part of being weather-wise when you travel is making smart, informed decisions before you depart. Picking the right kind of transport for your destination’s weather is the best way to steer clear of frustrating travel delays or dangerous conditions.
Consider these important factors:
- If you are hiring a vehicle, do you know how to drive in local conditions such as snow, high winds or extreme heat?
- Will you be relying on light aircraft during seasonal bad weather?
- Does your overnight train have proper ventilation or air conditioning to combat summer heat?
- Will you be hiking in extreme conditions beyond your regular capabilities?
- Is your destination prone to flash flooding or landslides?
Of course, considering these events doesn’t necessarily mean that you will encounter them, but you can do your best to avoid them by making smarter decisions when it comes to booking your transport.
Know what to do in a weather emergency
Do you know the emergency number for the South African police? Could you recite the Hong Kong fire brigade number in an instant? What if you needed an ambulance immediately in Vanuatu?
Let’s hope you never do need to call for emergency services whilst you’re overseas, but you should definitely note down the relevant numbers for your trip before you fly out. You can find a comprehensive list of emergency numbers here, or rely on a simple Google search.
You should also research any other emergency services that may be relevant to your location such as a coast guard or search and rescue. There’s no need to spend too long gathering this information, but it will be invaluable to you if bad weather leads to an emergency.
Notorious conditions from around the world
From June to September, most of Southeast Asia is typically awash in torrential downpours. Known as monsoon season, these intense rains usually do not pose problems by themselves.
Dangerous severe weather conditions can often accompany monsoon showers. Flash flooding is the biggest concern, as are mudslides in flood plain regions lying below elevated areas. Additionally, cyclones and severe thunderstorms can also develop within monsoon systems with little or no advance warning.
Commonly known as forest fires or wild fires in other parts of the world, bush fires affect regions around the globe prone to hot, dry conditions where thick forestry is plentiful. These areas can include the Western United States, Mexico and Sub Saharan Africa, but can also include areas of Europe.
Parts of the United States are prone to getting battered by severe winter weather. Winter storms over the past three years have been particularly troubling, dumping several feet of snow at a time on major urban areas.
These snowstorms can lead to road closures, standstill traffic and even rolling blackouts. As such, try to avoid have inflexible travel plans involving connecting flights in these areas throughout winter.
If you are visiting a country and you get to experience the unfortunate event of an eruption occurring, you can expect extreme flight delays for airports that are as much as several hundred kilometres away.
Other dangers that volcanoes pose are less obvious. Large dust clouds can trigger unusual weather patterns such as thunderstorms and temperature fluctuations.
Unlike most of the weather described here, volcanoes do not have a set schedule for eruption that follows the calendar year. Instead, volcanic activity peaks according to seismic activity deep underground.