This weekend my city is hosting The Kentucky Derby. This huge spectacle draws visitors from all over the country for a few days each May. Most of these visitors will be expecting springtime weather and the smell of freshly cut grass. But they will be arriving to a city that is cold and gray and wet. Expectations don’t quite match reality this Derby weekend.
At one point or another it happens to everyone–either a flight is delayed due to weather conditions, or we successfully make it to our destination only to find that our sunny beach trip has become a soggy grey mess. This is when we are forced to utilize our creativity and find a way to not let mother nature stop us from having the time of our lives. What follows is a list of 13 ways to stop your bad luck (see what I did there?) from ruining a good time.
1. Hit a museum
One time, on a family road trip, we got a flat tire in the middle of Kansas. We had no Idea where we were, but we knew we weren’t going to be able to make it home on the spare tire donut in the trunk. It was going to require a real tire. So we pulled of the highway into Goodland, Kansas, and the first thing we saw was a giant easel, nearly 100 feet tall, with the biggest reproduction of Van Gogh’s ‘3 Sunflowers in a Vase’ I have ever seen. Van Gogh is my favorite artist, and I never would have known that this exhibit existed without a flat tire, leading me to think it was all fate. Use uncooperative situations as an opportunity to see something that you would have never seen otherwise. Visit a nearby museum and stay out of the rain for a while.
2. Go shopping!
Let’s be honest, you were probably planning for at least one day of shopping while on your trip, right? So rather than letting mother nature ruin your day, just tweak your plans and make today your shopping day…after all, you’ve deserved it for dealing with so much on this trip already.
3. Take advantage of hotel amenities
One of the only good things about flight delays is that the airlines always spring for rooms in nicer hotels than I would likely book myself. So when faced ith a delay, I try to make the most of my amenities–jet tub in my room? Sweet! Indoor pool? Even better… I’m going to make the most of my stay one way or the other.
4. See how many phone numbers you can collect
There isn’t much that is fun about being stuck in airports during delays–except for the airport bar, and the ability to pretend to be whoever you would like to be. Take this delay as an opportunity to meet new people and collect contact information–regardless of whether your purposes are personal or professional, just have fun talking to people that you otherwise may never have met!
One of my least favorite things about traveling with my family when I was younger was how we were always so busy. There was very little downtime on our vacations because my parents wanted to pack in as many fun activities they could in the little time we had. While this is commendable, and my parents are awesome people for managing to show me so much of the country in short stretches of time, I think there is definitely something to be said for nice long aps during vacation. If you are the type of person who is always on the go while traveling, let the gloomy day outside be your excuse to chill out for a while. Your body will thank you tomorrow.
6. Work on your blog/ catch up on reading
If you are the type of person who feels like you never have enough time to read or write, then mother nature just handed you a great big rainy gift–the time, space and freedom to do those things that you can never seem to fit into your regular daily schedule; all you have to do is accept it and be grateful.
7. People watch
Back before September 11,2001, I was a younger version of myself, and airports were way more open. One of my favorite things to do after my classes were over for the day was to go to the airport and watch people arriving and departing at the gates. I would get a cup of coffee and write as I watched joyful reunions and sad goodbyes. It was cheap entertainment for a young college student living on ramen, but after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, airport rules changed, and you can only sit at the gates if you have a boarding pass of your own. Which means I envy you, reader with a flight delay, because you have a ticket to see all of those tearful hellos and goodbyes that I have not been able to witness since then, except when I fly. Take advantage of that moment. It is special.
8. Pamper yourself
Whenever I have to travel to conferences for work, it’s always hard to find things to do in the downtime (other than eat) so one thing I love to do is drop by a drugstore and get a face mask, nail polish, bubble bath, and a bottle of wine and have the kind of night that has become all too rare since I have become a mom–a night of self-pampering. And it is sooooo delicious. And quiet. Did I mention quiet?
9. Eat something new
Too often when traveling, we get into our comfort zones and stay there like stubborn little turtles, but I’m going to encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and think of this moment–when the world has conspired to make you uncomfortable anyway–as an opportunity to go all-in with discomfort and try something new. You never eat Thai food but your Airbnb host tells you about a great Thai place on the next block? Go there. Eat. Stretch yourself. Grow–in belly and mind!
10. See a movie
Movies and I have a long torrid love affair. So much so in fact, that any time I am traveling and I feel homesick, a trip to a movie theatre will give me a feeling of home. That may seem a little over the top to you, but it doesn’t change the fact that going to the movies is a great way to spend an afternoon. And if you’re in a country where a different language is spoken, you can even call it a cultural experience. You’d better believe that when I am in Paris this summer, I will see a French movie in a french movie theatre. And It might even be sunny outside!
11. Shoot some pictures
There’s something about a grey rainy day that makes photographs more beautiful. It has something to do with the way light plays on your subjects. Use the rainy day as an opportunity to get outside and get some great shots of the rainy world. Or, if you’re stuck in an airport, take pictures of everything around you. Photography is a great hobby in that it can be practiced regardless of where you are.
12. Be a kid again
My kiddo and I like to use rainy days as the days when we have a blast indoors doing kid stuff: laser tag, rollerskating, ice cream, you name it. But I’ll tell you a secret: You don’t have to have a kid to have fun doing all of these things. Sometimes I like finding an arcade in a new city all by myself…
13. Enjoy the weather
Finally, could we all just recognize that rain can be kind of nice? Put on a good pair of shoes and grab an umbrella and explore the world around you. It doesn’t have to be sunny to see that a city (or a beach! Is beautiful. Storms are beautiful in their own way, and we can all try to simply enjoy them.