My Top 3 Bad Weather Travel Memories

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It's time for another travel meme! This time, the theme is “my top 3 travel memories,” a relay-style meme being run by in which bloggers are placed on teams and “pass on” the theme to another teammate at the end of each post. Big thanks to Aleah from Solitary Wanderer for passing the Team BLUE baton to me!

So. My top 3 travel memories.

Kind of a broad, generic topic, don't you think? And also really impossible to decide on. I mean, how can I possibly narrow down years of incredible travel experiences to just three memories? The answer is, I can't.

So I'm taking a different approach. Instead of my generic top 3 travel memories, I'm instead going to share with you my Top 3 Bad Weather Travel Memories.

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

I may be smiling, but I'm also being pelted by rain!

Whether we like it or not, the weather can have a huge effect on any travel experience. If the weather outside is frightful, chances are that our moods are, too — and it often means we don't fully appreciate the experience (or maybe we don't even get to HAVE the experience) because of the rain or snow or searing heat.

I've had plenty of bad-weather travel experiences over the years. I've been snowmobiling in a blizzard in Iceland, and sweated my way to the top of the Acropolis in Athens on a day so hot that they shut the whole place down. I've been to castles in the rain, hiking in wind so strong that it literally would blow you over, and to beaches on days too cold to go swimming.

Having something as unpredictable as the weather influence or even ruin travel plans really sucks.

But, as someone who always tries to look on the bright side of life, I have had some pretty memorable travel moments that took place in less-than-ideal weather.

3rd Place — Ottawa in winter

Last winter, I decided I needed a vacation. But, instead of escaping to somewhere warm like the Bahamas or Mexico, I went the opposite direction: north, to Canada.

In case you weren't aware, Canada is flippin' COLD in the winter. I spent 5 days in the capital city of Ottawa, where it was below freezing every single day.

Ottawa, Canada

It was impossible to go outside without multiple layers on. And even then, the snot would freeze inside my nose and my legs would be numb from the wind within 15 minutes. But this didn't stop me from having a great time in Ottawa.

I photographed a snowy Parliament Hill, visited museums, ate lots of soup, explored the Byward Market neighborhood, and more. Yes, it was cold. And yes, I felt like a marshmallow walking around with all of my layers on. But, at the end of the trip, I only had good memories from my frigid few days in Canada's capital.

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

2nd Place — Doubtful Sound in a downpour

I had gotten lucky on my first and only visit to New Zealand's famous Milford Sound — I'd landed on a gorgeously clear day to visit NZ's top tourist attraction, with sun twinkling overhead and plenty of blue sky to be reflected off blue water.

My visit to lesser-known Doubtful Sound a few years later was much, much different.

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

The road to Doubtful Sound was all rain and sleet. The majestic Southern Alps were mostly cloud-covered, and I couldn't even fully enjoy the boat ride across Lake Manapouri because of the driving rain. But once we got to Doubtful Sound? Well, I didn't seem to mind the foul weather quite so much.

Doubtful Sound in the rain is mysterious. It's quiet. It's hauntingly beautiful. It's the type of place where waterfalls cascade out of the clouds and swirling mist distorts the shapes of the mountains, changing each scene before your very eyes. Of the two sounds I've visited in New Zealand, I think I actually preferred Doubtful, despite the wet weather.

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

1st Place — Glacier trekking on a miserable day

The morning dawned wet, cold, and windy — all the trappings of a truly miserable day. Even just walking to the bus stop left me soaking wet and shivering, and I really couldn't picture enjoying a hike on a giant hunk of ice.

But somehow I was convinced to head out to the Franz Josef Glacier anyway. Yes, the hour-long hike to the face of the glacier was accompanied by pouring rain. And yes, it was cold. And yes, the glacier was mostly invisible when we finally reached it.

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

But it didn't matter — because we were about to hike on a glacier! Going out in the elements that day ended up being one of the best travel decisions I've ever made.

We were eventually rewarded for our intrepid spirits by the weather clearing up once we got on the ice. The rain stopped, the blue ice shone forth, and the whole valley was covered in hundreds of roaring waterfalls. To date, this glacier hike ranks up there as one of the coolest things I have ever done, bad weather and all.

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand


So, next time you're faced with bad weather on your travels, don't fret — it could lead to a much better memory than you'd expect!


And now I'm passing the baton on to Nancie of Budget Travelers Sandbox! Go Team BLUE! If you want to follow along, follow the hashtags #teamBLUE and #bloggerrelay on Twitter.


Do YOU have any good bad-weather travel memories? Share them in the comments below!



  • Erik says:

    The Sounds in bad weather is part of the ‘experience’, I think 🙂

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I think I definitely agree! I mean, seeing Milford in the sun was incredible. But the was also something very special about Doubtful in the rain.

  • What a nice interpretation of the theme! I have experienced sub-zero temperature only once–when I went to Europe last February–and all I can say is that I had never felt so cold in my entire life! The temp in the Philippines when I left was 30 deg C, and when I arrived in Belgium, it was -10 deg C! You can imagine how temperature shocked I was haha. Anyway, thanks for joining and yey to Team Blue!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m used to the cold, having grown up in Ohio. But even to this Midwestern girl, Ottawa was FREEZING! Still fun, though. 🙂

      And go Team Blue!

  • Tracy says:

    Really enjoyed the different take on the Top 3 Travel Memories theme. It’s amazing how some great and unexpected memories can come out of bad weather.

    We were in Europe in 2010 during their crazy heat wave that lasted about 3 weeks shattering fifty year old records. We sweated a lot but got many amazing photos in the cities we visited with the sun & blue sky.


    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Tracy. I like looking at these memes from a different perspective when possible. 🙂

      Heat waves are no fun, but I’m glad to hear you had a good trip anyway!

  • The sounds are gorgeous in the sun, but exceptionally stunning in the rain as well! I did a Milford cruise on a beautiful sunny day and loved it, and then went back a month later and kayaked the same trip on a dismal dreary rainy day, and it was a completely different place! So many more waterfalls show themselves from the mountains above – it’s amazing!

    I once got snowed off Mount Tongariro in 2009 – that was quite an experience!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yikes, I don’t think I’d want to get snowed off of ANY mountain! I’ve seen too many of those “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” shows… Haha.

      I suppose the great thing about the sounds (or, should I say, fjords) in New Zealand is that they really ARE magical, no matter what the weather is. Just one more reason to love NZ. 🙂

  • Gaelyn says:

    Being there’s nothing to be done to change the weather wherever one is it’s best to just enjoy it. I was soaked, yet warm, while hiking in the Drakensbergs under a monstrous thunder and lightning storm. Exciting and scary at the same time.

  • When I saw the title, I thought you wrote about the heat during your summer in Europe 🙂 Winter weather just makes everything more special!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha, I DID think about writing about the heat in Europe… but many of those memories definitely wouldn’t rank up there as some of my “best.” 😉

  • Leigh says:

    I grew up in Ottawa and remember walking from the bus to high school with nylons on. My legs would be red and burning by the time I got to school. I hadn’t been back until this year and like you had three days of very cold, -25C – weather. Still I love what the city offers and because it was so cold we spent a full day in the museum. And ate soup in the Byward Market.
    Nice take on the theme and great photos.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Brrr, only nylons?? I think my legs would fall off. One day I wore thermals AND jeans, and my legs still went numb after 20 minutes. But, Ottawa was definitely worth it.

  • The weather was so bad when I was in NZ, franz josef that we went glacier hiking, got nearly to the top, all through the hard part and had to turn back around. I was pretty disappointed but a few days later heard about some Australians getting killed because they didnt listen to the warnings… always pays to listen to warnings!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m sorry to hear your glacier experience was so disappointing! And yikes about those Australians… you are right about the warnings – they’re there for a reason!!

  • Edit says:

    You can have bad memories from the bad weather but your photos are amazing beautiful!

  • Simon says:

    Haha, this is definitely a refreshing take on the relay meme going around! I’m a Kiwi who has never been to Milford Sound because every time I try to go the roads are closed for one weather-related reason or another. It’s a fact of life in this country – but you were lucky you made it there on a nice day! True, you weren’t so lucky with Doubtful Sound…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Simon! I don’t like to do anything the same as anybody else. 😉

      You really should try to get out to Milford, though. As touristy as it is, it’s still incredible. (Though, Doubtful was just as incredible, if you ask me!)

  • I love New Zealand’s weather and for some reason I love cold weather in general. Donno why but I feel very comfortable when it is cold outside, or rainy/foggy.

    I’m personally not a summer person, don’t get me wrong, I love some sunny days at the beach every now and then but I also need cold weather. Luckily I live in a temperate area with 4 seasons. I couldn’t live in a all year hot place, I’m not a lizard lol.

    Love the pictures, especially the ones from New Zealand. I’m gonna emigrate there one day, seriously…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha, I love your “I’m not a lizard” statement. I agree that I like a little variety in my seasons, and definitely prefer cooler, in-between weather; not too hot and not too cold.

      If you do make the move to NZ, perhaps I’ll see you there someday!

  • Nancie says:

    Beautiful shots! Thanks for the tap. I will get going on this tomorrow.

    I remember being on the Isle of Mull many many years ago, and wading in mud above my ankles. However, at the end of the day the rain stopped, and I was rewarded with the most fantastic sunset. It inspired me enough to purchase a gorgeous photo of a mull sunset, which hung above my sofa for years. The sofa is long gone, but I still have the photo. One of these days it will come out of storage to hang again.

  • Becky says:

    Great perspective! As they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. I also have some good experiences that have come out of either facing the weather or changing plans spontaneously to avoid the weather.

  • My bad travel weather experiences include a trip to Borneo, when we did a lovely river cruise and stayed in a remote jungle lodge. It was supposed to involve a night time nature walk and a trip out on the boat to see fireflies in the dark – at aroudn 5pm, the most torrential rain I’ve ever seen started so that was a no to the nature walk and a no to the fireflies! It continued till about 4am but on the plus side, with the sound of the rain, it was the most peaceful night’s sleep I’ve ever had!

  • Gabriela says:

    I experienced a similar disappointment in NZ, not sure if it’s greater or not – as I had both of my trips to the glacier and Milford Sound CANCELLED due to bad weather. Apparently we were there on the one day a year( for each place) it is that bad that they cancel it. I was running out of money so I didn’t mind having it back but still disappointed to this day. The South Island, beautiful as it is, was soooo bloody rainy from day 1 to the end, excluding 3 days in Queenstown. That’s (winter) in NZ for you I guess 🙂 Gives it a specific mysterious charm though!

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