An essential guide to travelling during monsoons
People in India wait for an entire year for the monsoon to arrive. But as soon as it does, they just like to sit back and relax in their homes rather than travelling. Though the roads are flooded, wet, muddy, potholed and slippery in monsoon, the season has its own perks. The rainy season is considered to be an ‘off’ season in India, hence you will confront fewer crowds and get cheaper accommodation if you plan to venture out during this season. Nature comes alive in monsoon and the air is filled with freshness. Here are a few monsoon travel tips and things that you should keep in mind before planning a trip in monsoon:
1. Invest in a waterproof backpack
Pack all your belongings in a waterproof backpack or in a bag with a durable rain cover. This will ensure that all your clothes and other items are protected from rainwater. No one wants to have a bag full of wet clothes while travelling.
2. Pack synthetic and quick-dry clothes
If your clothes remain damp, they will start smelling and that’s the last thing you will want while travelling. So, pack airy and light clothes made out of synthetic fabric. These dry out very easily in no time. Wear knee-length pants to avoid getting the bottom of your pants wet and muddy. Leave your jeans, party-wear and cotton clothes behind. Always carry extra wear and a quick-drying towel. Toss in a clothesline in your bag. This would come in handy if you want to dry the clothes in your hotel room.
3. Carry Rain Wear – Heavy-duty, waterproof and windproof
An umbrella, raincoat or a poncho are the must-carry items when travelling in monsoon. Also, throw in a rain cap and a tissue roll in your bags. Make sure you carry a heavy-duty umbrella that does not trouble you in strong winds. Also ensure that your raincoat or poncho is lightweight, thin, breathable but sturdy, that guarantees utmost comfortability.
4. Pack appropriate footwear
Rain-proof sandals or floaters are most appropriate in monsoon season. However, footwear depends on the type of activity that you are going to indulge in. If you are going to trek, carry sturdy waterproof shoes with good grip or hiking boots. If it’s just sightseeing you are going to do, a pair of flip-flops will be comfortable. Avoid packing cloth, canvas or leather shoes or your fancy chappals. Also, avoid heels.
5. Water-proof your belongings
Carry a lot of waterproof plastic bags and zip lock bags of all sizes for your clothes, footwear, toiletries as well as gadgets. Make sure that you protect all your gadgets (mobile phones, camera, laptop) away from moisture. Toss in a few silica gel packets as they are powerful moisture absorbents.
6. Keep mosquito repellents and medicines
Monsoon is the season that gives life to many insects and mosquitos. Cases of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue rise on a large scale in monsoon. Carry a powerful mosquito repellent to keep the mosquitos away. Also, pack all regular medicines just in case you fall sick while travelling. If you opt for trekking in forests, rub some Dettol on your feet and arms to keep the leeches away.
7. Always check the weather reports beforehand
Checking the weather forecast before travelling comes in handy when travelling to hills or beaches. Heavy downpour may lead to landslides, floods, mudslides or cloudbursts and you would definitely want to avoid getting stuck in such dangerous conditions while on a vacation.
8. A book or a pair of cards will always come handy
Heavy rainfall may lead to you being hotel-bound and force you to stay indoors. In such conditions, a couple of books or Uno or a pack of cards will keep you entertained. Carrying a Kindle is a practical option in place of several books, but ensure that it stays protected from moisture.
9. Avoid taking your own transport
Dirty water may enter your vehicle’s engine if you driving in accumulated water for long. As a result, the engine may stop functioning. Most vehicle insurance does not cover engine damage. Also, you may be an experienced driver but driving in heavy rains is altogether a different skill. Hence, it’s better to hire taxis or use public transportation like train, bus or flight in monsoon. If at all you choose to drive yourself, get premium anti-skid suspension tyres and keep all emergency helpline numbers on speed dial. Make sure that your car wipers are working properly. Watch your speed and keep safe at all times. Do not plan for motorbike road trips in monsoon.
In this modern age of technology, you wouldn’t like keeping away from clicking photos and browsing social media. Power-cuts are quite common in India in rainy and stormy weather. Carry all the spare batteries of your camera and power-banks to charge up your mobile phone. Packing a torch, headlamp or a flashlight will help you in conditions like blackouts.
11. Carry a hairdryer
Pack a compact hair dryer that will help you to keep your hair dry at all times. This is a necessity especially if you have long hair. There won’t be any sunlight or heat to dry up your hair naturally. And wet hair may lead to catching a cold! A hairdryer will come in handy not just for drying your hair but to dry your slightly damp clothes and undergarments.
12. Watch what you eat and drink
Avoid eating street-side food. It is seldom hygienic and is exposed to germs and diseases. Instead, carry your home food or buy fresh fruits or packaged food. Carry bottled water. If you are forced to eat outside, opt for freshly made hot food instead of eating already prepared cold items. Avoid fruit juices during monsoon. Pay extra attention to the hygiene of everything you eat or drink.
13. Choose your destination wisely
Choose locations that are safe to travel during monsoon. Avoid beaches as they may be closed during heavy rainfall and even if not, it might be dangerous to swim. In fact, it’s unsafe to wade in all types of waterfronts in the rainy season. Stay away from extremely hilly areas where roads may not be proper as there are chances of landslides and slip or skid on the many wet twists or turns.
14. Be prepared for occasional delays. Always have a Plan B
Even if you have planned minutest of details, monsoon brings in greater chances of delays or change in plans. There could be train or flight delays. Sit back, listen to music and enjoy the downpour. If your flight or train gets cancelled, be prepared for a plan B. Carry good books or be ready for an alternate activity of your interest to avoid boredom and frustration. Keep yourself occupied.
15. Make appropriate stay arrangements
If you are camping, ensure that set yourself away from water bodies and in higher areas. Low-lying areas may get flooded. Same goes for hotel booking. Avoid booking hotels in low-lying and flood-prone areas. Ensure that your booked hotel has an in-house restaurant. Booking hotels having power back-up facilities and geyser/heater will be helpful. Do not choose eco-friendly huts or cottages for your stay in monsoon.
So, get out and make the most of this wonderful monsoon season. Travelling can be a highly rewarding experience in monsoon if you keep these above-mentioned things in mind. If there are any more important tip that is not covered in this article, do mention them in the comment section below.