Gear up for monsoon travel
Travelling during the rainy season, right off the bat, sounds like something to be avoided like the plague. But imagine early morning fogs carpeting the Western Ghats, the smell of wet leaves wafting in Darjeeling, and the sky and sea turning different shades of blue and grey at the beaches—the rains bring out a completely different side to some of the most popular travel destinations. While the sporadic downpour that characterises this season might put a damper on sight-seeing plans, improvisation is the key to creative travelling. The low seasons mean fewer crowds and lower prices, and plenty more opportunities for haggling a bargain. Here are some ways that you can make the most of the rainy season.
Chances are, if you’re travelling during the rainy season, you’re going to get drenched at some point. Opt for loose fitting or light clothing, such as cotton tanks, tops and shorts as opposed to jeans or heavier knits that will take a long time to dry. Bring along clothing that you absolutely don’t care about. Monsoons are synonymous with dust and dirt and at some point your clothing will suffer the brunt of wading through knee-deep puddles. So try and leave the good stuff behind.
Wear good shoes
Take it from someone who has slipped and fallen while wearing cheaply made flip-flops one too many times—keep a pair of comfortable sandals or well-soled shoes handy. Rains can drench an area pretty quickly, leaving slippery surfaces wherever you go. And when those sewers overflow and spill onto the streets, you definitely don’t want to be the one falling down them. Opt for a pair of Wellington boots or gumboots and keep lightweight sneakers as an alternative. Be sure not to bring any new or dear kicks with you because they are bound to get filthy pretty quick.
Characteristically, this season is wet and sticky and you’re sure to run into creepy crawlies. So keep mosquito repellents, anti-itch creams and disinfectants handy. If you’re planning to trek or spend the night in a tent outdoors, pick up a portable mosquito net. This helps reduce the chances of you being covered in itchy bites by morning. Purchasing a water-resistant bag for valuables such as cameras, phones and credit cards, as well as any medicines, is a wise investment against things getting ruined in a sudden downpour. While the booming thunder might give you a freaky scare, it’s the powerful lightening strikes that cause maximum damage. Power outages are common during the monsoons, so try and keep a flashlight handy.
Don’t forget that umbrella
The most obvious and imperative step towards staying dry, when travelling, is to carry a heavy-duty umbrella. Because the winds that accompany monsoons can be relatively vicious, make sure that your umbrella is not flimsy and will not leave you stranded when you need it the most. Throw in an extra umbrella if you have space amongst your luggage along with a foldable pocket raincoat. Keeping a raincoat in your bag might seem like a small thing, but it can keep you from getting wet and muddy at a moment’s notice.
Keep an eye on the news
While travelling during the monsoons can be perfectly enjoyable, heavy rains can obviously lead to flooding, making travel more time consuming and even dangerous. Keep an eye on the weather and news coming out of wherever you’re headed to and avoid areas that look like they may be dangerously hard-hit.