When we plan vacations, we usually have to leave at least one significant variable to chance – the weather. Even the best laid plans can be thrown into chaos by an unseasonal storm or an unexpected change in conditions. The best thing to do is be prepared for being limited by the environment, even if it doesn’t happen.
Of course, if your day skiing is obscured by cloud or the plans for the beach are dented by rain, the first option is to find something indoors to do instead. If you are vacationing near a reasonable population base, there should be plenty of options. Anything from museums to galleries, malls to indoor play-parks and sportsgrounds are usually a good bet for inexpensive and interesting detours. If you are considering museums, look for science centres or kid’s museums as the first option, as these are much more interactive and interesting for younger visitors. For more active pursuits, check the age or height restrictions before you announce them to avoid disappointment. If you don’t have any immediate ideas of where to go, make a local visitor centre your first call. They will be best equipped to point you towards local activities that don’t depend on the weather behaving itself.
Also, don’t forget about simple solutions. If there is a cinema nearby an inexpensive matinee could be just the thing to amuse the whole family for a few hours. If the kids need to burn off some energy another easy answer is to find one of the fast food chains with an indoor play area. For the price of a couple of packets of fries or some soft-serve, young children can wear themselves out to their heart’s content without driving you crazy.
If going out is not an option, there are always things you can try indoors. We often pack a card game or board game when we are on a longer trip. By removing the game pieces into zip lock bags, they take up very little space and are a good emergency option that can involve everyone. For younger ones you could make up a scavenger hunt or start a game of hide and seek. You may be surprised how many places there are to hide in your vacation home!
For more creative children, art can be a great pastime indoors. Anything from sketching to colouring and even simple collage, they can create artworks that reflect the trip so far or just stretch their imagination. For the technologically minded, a digital camera and some toys is all you need for stop motion animation or simple movies which could be screened to the whole family at the end of the day.
Devices like tablets and games consoles are of course an easy remedy, but keep in mind their limitations. Make sure you have chargers handy as the battery life will be drastically shortened by continuous use, and ensure all the apps are up to date before you leave. Many games now have an online component or requirement and if you can’t connect, they will be useless. Also be aware of how many controllers or devices you have versus how many kids need amusing. If sharing isn’t a strong suit, you may want to keep electronic entertainment as a reward rather than default pastime.
We also always made sure we travelled with a few favourite movies in case everything else lost interest. While streaming services are great, unless you are sure of the availability of an internet connection, it would pay to have some locally stored films, either digital or on disk. We tended to use a laptop for playback because of the larger screen and better sound, but if you have access to a TV of some description it could be helpful to have some connecting leads so you can show the film on that instead.
Not many people plan vacations with the intention of sitting indoors through them, but it can happen to anyone and almost anywhere. Make sure that you have at least given some thought to the possibility and what you will do if the weather changes your plans, and you may find that not even the most unlikely storm can dampen your fun.