In a tropical country like India, monsoon, the season when dark clouds shower drops of bliss, is the most awaited season. Starting mid-June, the drizzle and romance of this season stay with people till September.
During this time, rain lovers are preoccupied with sipping on piping-hot chai and binging on scrumptious pakoras. No wonder, from poets to romantics to farmers, everyone loves a good monsoon.
Did we say, everyone? We stand corrected – almost everyone loves a good monsoon! It is not hard to see the beauty in the rain if you are an ardent traveller or backpacker. Those of you who plan long trips during Indian monsoons might face dire consequences if you don't make safety your priority. Thunderstorms and lightning don't look good when you are out on the road or in the wild. Our words of advice? Don't be a fish out of the water, but have a 'whale of a time' without any red flags being raised.
Here are some essential travel trips during monsoons to keep yourself safe:
Travel tips for the rainy season – The Dos
Before you get on the move, lo and behold! The following list of dos makes things a little less intense while the road ahead is fraught with perils and predicaments.
Check weather forecast
Impulsive travelling might sound like an exciting idea but not during rainy days. Before you book your tickets and venture out for a great time, remember to check the weather forecast and the level of unpredictability at the destination. Most weather forecast apps give you a good picture of the situation that awaits you at your destination.
Choose your destination wisely
The fury of mother nature can be a big penalty if you are planning to visit the hilly regions in the sub-continent during monsoons. Landslides, floods, and mudslides sound crazy, don't they? The best bet would be to avoid these areas during this time. Do your research and choose locations that are safe and travel-worthy during rainy days.
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Carry your mini first-aid box
It is not just us but mosquitoes love monsoons too. They are on the prowl for some human flesh to bite, so keeping some repellents handy always does wonders. Likewise, the monsoon epidemic is the ugly twin of the rains, so it is often advisable that you take some precautionary actions. Stocking up over-the-counter medicines for a cough, cold, fever, flu, etc. should be incumbent.
Pack smart and stock up on surplus supplies
While you are on the move, being equipped for uncertainties will definitely pay off. It is in your best interest to carry some dry and long-lasting food like biscuits, cup noodles and nuts that provide instant energy. Flashlight and extra batteries will be your heroes when the sun goes down and you get stuck inadvertently in a dark cave or something... just saying!
Mind what you wear
Getting drenched may be fun as long as your immune system is willing to combat illnesses. Waterproof clothing can prevent collateral damage while you go trekking, water rafting or kayaking or play rain volleyball. Wearing synthetic clothes that dry quickly and a nice pair of water-resistant, anti-skid footwear should give you a basic cover for the cat-and-dog weather; plus, these also restrict fungal infections. It is always a good idea to make the umbrella your best friend. Your raincoat and boots are your loyal soul mates during monsoon expeditions.
Waterproof your devices
It's not just you who needs protection from rain, your devices need it too! Having to deal with a cell phone or a camera that has stopped working is probably the last thing you want during a vacation. So, keep your gizmos and valuables waterproof as it helps prevent damage and malfunctions.
Take extra precautions for road trips
Taking a road trip during this monsoon? Get those anti-skid suspension tires in place or you might just end up taking the 'highway' during heavy rains. Avoiding road rash is a good virtue during rains while getting your vehicle insured is a mandate to cope with a breakdown. Keep your emergency helpline numbers on speed dial. Start early, and take a break intermittently when showers overpower you. Visibility during rains is a major cause of concern everywhere, so make sure your car wipers are working fine.
If you are renting a car, ensure that it is insured and ask for all valid documents. Likewise, watch your speed, especially on sharp curves and hair pins in the mountains. Like your mama would say, "Don't be fast or furious on the roads during the cloudburst."
Douglas Horton once said, "Drive slow and enjoy the scenery. Drive fast and join the scenery". The latter doesn't sound like a good idea at all, does it?
Power up during the downpour
It is essential and may become a life-saving exercise to carry chargers and power banks. If you are carrying battery-operated devices, keep a few extra batteries as well. With many options available in the market for power banks and portable chargers, going out in the wilderness with a long battery life was never easier.
Pack that saviour toolkit
Emergency toolkits that have Swiss knives, ropes, scissors, tapes, adhesives and screwdrivers are always helpful, especially if you love adventure sports or happen to be on rocky terrain during a downpour. It could be a drowning person or car that may become the victim of the subjugating shower power.
Travel tips for the rainy season – The Don'ts
"Do not" are two words you hate to hear on a normal day but are lifesavers especially when monsoon rains are violent and unforgiving. Here are a few things you should NOT DO during your monsoon trips:
Do not eat street food
We know it can be difficult to follow this rule when you are on a move, yet it is the most paramount precaution any monsoon traveller must take. It is not possible to find hygienic food wherever you go, however, if you are well-organised, it is not impossible either.
Carrying some ready-to-eat food and boiled water can save you. Street food hosts some minacious germs that hide beneath its tempting layers. Food poisoning, diarrhoea, pollutants and more risks await you if you decide to take a chance at street food and water from public areas that have been exposed to rainwater and are contaminated as a result.
Do not befriend the waves
Many people love beaches irrespective of the season. Rainy season instigates high tides and violent waves that hit the shores. Boys and girls, who would try their luck with adventure at the beach, must be well-read about the safety norms. Soulful swimming when the seas are calm may be refreshing during light showers, though.
Do not sign up for rush-hour commute
The rush hour during the monsoons is even worse than flooding roadways. Local business can't shut because of rains and so won't the commuting crowds. If you are visiting busy cities that usually get waterlogged during monsoons, making them accident-prone, it is better to avoid running for public transportation and being pushed around in the rain. Plan a trip during the time of the day when the locals would not unintentionally choke you while you are seeking an adventure.
Do not indulge in risky activities
Rock climbing, abseiling, rafting, caving, bouldering and canyoning are great adrenaline-pumping activities. With great adventures come great risks, especially in the rainy season, like accidents, concussions, loss of property, and even loss of life. Many tour operators suggest avoiding such activities as these can impose danger. It is better not to participate in these extreme engagements if the rain gods are showing no mercy.
Do not house tents at low-lying areas
If you plan to enjoy nature to the fullest with a camping tour, it is a good idea to avoid camping in low-lying areas around monsoons. If you do, flowing or stagnant water may cause inconveniences like breeding mosquitoes, reptiles, flooding tents and washing out all essentials while all you can ever do is watch and sigh. And watching and sighing is never a good experience unless you are watching 'Game of Thrones'!
Monsoons can be fun if you are equipped and ruthless if you are clueless. Perspective and preparation make your adventures worthwhile. Just keep our recommended travel tips for the rainy season in mind for some great times under the dribble. After all, monsoons aren't as bad as you think.
Just as Vladimir Nabokov once said, "Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards".