Top Travel Tip: Don’t Forget Your Raincoat

” A rainy day on vacation is always better than a sunny day at work.” -Our travel motto!

When we dream of travel, a rainy day is never part of the plan.  Nevertheless, Mother Nature can sometimes have ideas of her own!  So, my #1 packing tip is, don’t leave home without a raincoat.  

A raincoat seems like such a simple tool to pack and honestly, for me, it’s sometimes the easiest item to forget as I am counting down to departure, especially when the weather at home is fine.  However, over the years, we have found that carrying our raincoats has proven to be the best item to have tucked into our suitcases, backpack, or just tossed into the backseat.  In fact, for almost every trip we take, my Husband will hear me send up the reminder, “Don’t forget your raincoat!” 

If you’ve read this far, you are probably asking, “What is up with this girl and her raincoat?” Simply?  Experience.  We have encountered rain many times in our travels.  Most notably, in Ireland, England, Canada, and on multiple tropical island ports of call while cruising.  The worst rainstorms we endured were in Scotland and Italy where we experienced torrential rain and, had we not been prepared, our travel in these spots would have been miserable.  It was still not the ideal way to see St. Andrews Cathedral or spend the entire last day of our visit in Venice, but having a good raincoat meant that we could brave the elements.

Thankful to have our raincoats in Italy

Unpredictable weather. Let’s be real.  No matter what beautiful place we visit, the odds are, we will bump into a rain shower or a dreary, chilly day once in a while.  We find that no matter how often we check the weather forecast before leaving for a trip, the weather can be the most unpredictable factor to anticipate.  A sudden light sprinkle might be manageable but a heavy downpour needs some serious gear to manage a tour schedule or if we are exploring in a cruise port for only a few hours.  We have been happy to have our raincoats nestled in our day bag on more occasions than I can count.

Think layers.  When traveling, I try to consider the temperatures and weather that we might encounter and plan to wear layers to stay warm and dry.  Rain and wind can equal cold and damp so layering a tee shirt, sweatshirt, and raincoat helps us to be comfortable in some of the colder climates we’ve visited.  If the weather improves, I layer down and stow that layer in our day bag.  Even if it doesn’t rain, I have often used my raincoat as a top layer that has held my body heat, helping to keep me from catching a chill.

L.L. Bean Raincoats served us well in Alaska and Ireland

What kind of raincoat would I recommend?

Would it surprise you to know that I have multiple raincoats?  I have four, to be exact!  Each one has features that I love but when I shop for raincoats, I always make sure to look for the most important feature, specifically, is it waterproof? 

As you start to shop, look for the word waterproof in the description.  If you see them, don’t be confused between descriptions such as water-repellent and water-resistant.  I look for a coat that is noted as waterproof meaning that it will allow rain to roll off instead of soak in.  This type of coat will dry quickly and will be ready to go back out into the elements quickly, continuing to keep you dry.

My favorite and most trusted brand for my raincoats has long been L.L. Bean for the durability and user-friendly details like a snap in just the right spot, deep pockets, and features to help your hood to stay on securely in the wind.  No matter your brand of preference, a top quality raincoat might be a little pricey but the investment should be long lasting and effective in providing warmth and most importantly, keep you dry. 

Trying to keep the camera dry as I sheltered from the downpour at St. Andrews Cathedral in Scotland.

The best way to pack your raincoat

I make it a habit of keeping my raincoat easily accessible when we travel.  When we fly, I either pack my raincoat in my carry on or in an outside pocket of my suitcase for easy access if it’s raining when we land.  As we are out exploring, I always make sure we have our raincoats.  I make it a practice to drop them into the bottom of our day bag to provide cushion for my camera and to have them close at hand at the first sprinkle. 

As you pack for your trip, try to resist thinking, “Oh, it’s not going to rain.”  Believe me, it’s better to carry your raincoat and not need it than need it when it’s dry in your closet at home.  On many of our trips, we have thankfully not needed our raincoats but when the weather has turned, I have been happy to reach into my bag and pop it on!

Finally, for future travel tips, I may suggest staying away from packing anything you won’t use on your trip.  However, a raincoat will always be the one exception to that rule! A raincoat can fold up into a tiny bundle and can easily be stuffed into a small spot in your bag. You won’t regret dedicating a little suitcase real estate for this vital travel must have.

I wish you tons of sunshine in your travels but if not, I know you’ll be prepared!