When weather disrupts your travel plans

Despite all the careful planning and details that go into travel, Mother Nature isn’t always cooperative. Sometimes our best-laid plans go awry and our adventures look and feel more like National Lampoon’s Vacation. And sometimes inclement weather creates the most memorable travel moments and best vacation stories.

This post contains links to products and services. While you will not accrue any additional costs to support my blog, I may – as a marketing affiliate – receive compensation if you link to or purchase products and services from places such as Amazon, Bluehost, Constant Contact, It’s a Lovely Life, HotelsCombined, etc. All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download.

Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com

Top 5 weather-related / making-memories vacation moments

Woman and boy on the Eiffel Tower steps
Here’s a shot of my son and me (in dry clothes) as we climbed the Eiffel Tower steps (668) to the second floor before taking the elevator to the top. And before the rain storm blew in. This was pre-digital, so I’ll look to see if we took any photos when we got soaked not only by the rain, but by the cars driving by (I’m pretty sure a couple of them did it on purpose).

Paris, France: torrential downpour

Do you ever get tired of lugging around the umbrella and rain jacket because it looks like it may rain? Me too.

We got caught in a downpour immediately after exiting the Eiffel Tower. And, of course, we left our umbrellas in the hotel room. But doubtful that would have provided much protection from cars splashing waves of water on us as we walked aimlessly looking for some kind of shelter.

Let’s just say it wasn’t one of my finer moments when facing such a minor hiccup in our vacation plans because of the weather. I was not happy we were soaked as we had planned to eat at a nice restaurant.

Planned is the operative word.

My (then) 8-year-old son put our situation into perspective when he said, “At least we have each other.” When the child teaches the parent.

So we found the closest cafe that didn’t mind our drenched attire…a cheeseburger and beer in Paris never tasted so good. 

And Paris made my son’s top favorite cities for family vacations – read more for other faves.

Orlando, Florida: Another torrential downpour – this time on a girls trip

Cars in a Publix parking lot and flooded street in Orlando, Florida
Flooded streets in Orlando

It rains nearly every day in Florida – at least a brief shower – or so it seems. However, last summer my friends and I were greeted with a downpour when a simple Uber ride from the airport became an extreme theme ride with more thrills than Disney World or Universal Studios.

We were near International Drive (you know, the main drag in Orlando) when we drove into a flooded street. Water was so high vehicles were stalling out.

Flooded streets in Orlando: When weather disrupts but doesn’t spoil vacation

Our Uber driver was amazing. With her son in the front seat serving as a navigator (or captain), we drove up over the median and were half on and half off driving on the other side. The other side was two lanes of traffic going in the opposite direction. So yes, we were kinda driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

It was a little scary as at one point I thought we were going to tip over (you can hear me gasp in the video below and one of us maybe said a bad word). But not too scared that I couldn’t record our vacation weather mishap and tweet about it.

You can hear me gasp as we navigate through the flooded streets of Orlando. Love that Hallelujah was playing on the radio.

Of course, I did.

One of the videos I took of our Orlando weather adventure found its way on Fox 35 Orlando’s newscast, website, social media and other news outlets. They did give me credit.

Although we eventually made it to dry land, the road to our resort was also flooded and closed to traffic. With no alternative route to get us there, our Uber driver dropped us off in a parking lot outside Applebee’s with all our luggage.

I’m not a fan of chain restaurants while on vacation, but we all needed a cocktail. So we ordered food and drinks until we could venture on. And the Applebee’s four cheese mac and cheese with honey pepper chicken tenders is in the chains section of my list of where to find the best mac and cheese in the U.S.

Zumbro River, Minnesota: A river rescue of hockey moms

4 hockey moms women in river tubes on the grass drinking beer
Tubing on dry ground – where we should have stayed

Seriously. Don’t try this at home.

We didn’t have a river view so the river came to us.

It’s almost too embarrassing to even admit. But when my friends and I were young and stupid (last summer), we decided to go tubing on a flooded river (well, because all the other cool kids were doing it). We missed our exit because of the strong current (later clocked the current at 13 mph). Later that night most of the campground was evacuated.

Flooded river in Minnesota
Flooded river where hockey moms had to be rescued (by an off-duty officer and her family and friends who happened to be camping near the river – and who were evacuated later that night)

Surprised (and grateful) we didn’t make the news when we had to be rescued from the river. 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Sedona, Arizona: Wading through a fast-moving flooded drybed

2 men wading through cold water on Devil's Bridge Trail in Sedona, Arizona
My husband and son wading across one crazy cold creek (which is normally a dry bed) on the way to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona.

I may or may not have screamed a few bad words when the only way to reach Devil’s Bridge (the largest sandstone arch in Sedona) was to wade through a frigid fast-moving flooded dry bed. Sooooooo cold!!!!

We had to wade through it again after our beautiful hike to get to our car. We warned the couple we passed…yep, they yelled out similar words.

But it was worth the few moments of discomfort during this hike to reach the beautiful and largest sandstone arch in Sedona. At an elevation of 4,600 feet, the views from Devil’s Bridge are heavenly.

Don’t let a little cold water and a flooded dry bed keep you from magnificent views like this at Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona. My husband took this shot of my son and me on the area’s largest sandstone arch.

Memphis, Tennessee: Sharing a hotel room with strangers

Have you ever shared a hotel room with strangers?

I have. Living out my own Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

I met these folks in Memphis back in 1994 when the deicer broke and they shut down the airport.

A guy sitting next to me on the plane is not pictured as I think that’s when he was renting our Lincoln Town Car to drive us to our hotel (the line for a cab was more than an hour long because Memphis is not equipped for ice storms).

I had reserved a room and the guy’s wife had reserved one. And hotels were selling out because of the ice storm (a busy time as it was Mardi Gras season). So we decided to all stay together. Four girls in one room and the three guys in the other. We had such a blast!

This was before cell phones and social media so we never connected afterwards. I don’t remember their names, but do remember where they lived. Left to right: Nashville, Detroit, Minneapolis, Detroit, Australia. If you happen to recognize them, please let me know!

Share your favorite story on how weather disrupted your travel plans – but didn’t spoil them.

What’s your favorite not-so-fun moment that you weathered on your travels (and is now a great story to tell)? Please share in the comments below.

Pin it for later: Top stories of when weather disrupted but didn’t spoil travel plans

Related posts: Picture-perfect-weather travel stories

20 facts about Lake Minnetonka that may surprise you
20 facts about Lake Minnetonka that may surprise you

How to get to Isla Mujeres Mexico from Cancun ferry ride
How to get to Isla Mujeres, Mexico from the Cancun airport

Buddy Holly Crash Site
Top things to do in Iowa: Buddy Holly Crash Site and Buddy Holly Museum in Clear Lake, Iowa

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption
Things to do in Iowa: Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemenption


Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. fun post! i’ve been caught in rain and floods too many times!! the experience sharing a hotel room sounds like you guys made lemonade out of lemons. it’s important to have a great attitude when experiencing travel woes 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! We definitely had a great time in Memphis despite the canceled flights…would be awesome to reconnect with them after all these years.

  2. These are some great examples of how to make the best of bad weather, Karen! That car ride in Orlando looked hairy! Don’t think I’d attempt it if I were driving.

    Our first time to Luang Prabang in Laos was during rainy season. We rented a motorbike to drive out to the big waterfall nearby and got caught in several downpours. Luckily we had our ponchos? Still got soaked, but the views made it worth it!

  3. Wow Karen, these are quite some weather moments while traveling! I’ve not (yet) experienced any severe weather conditions while traveling. Let’s hope it stays that way!

  4. I agree, when things go wrong they seem like a disaster at the time. But later they make for great stories! Looks like you had a lot of fun adventures!

  5. The story of you guys tubing down the river has me cracking up! These are some great examples of making the best of a situation. That was just too cute when your son said “At least we have each other.”

    1. Thank you! We’re very fortunate to be able to look back and laugh about our tubing adventure…and my son still sees the silver lining as an adult.

  6. These times are the ones that can quite disturb a vacation but become great stories later. We had a huge rain storm in Ecuador and the river rose 11 feet. We couldn’t get the canoes in the river because of the floating trees at a high rate of speed. We were supposed to be tubing in the river which was sad. Later after the river became more safe we ventured out and saw tons of monkeys! You also cannot imagine all of the creatures that move up ground as the river rises….yikes!

  7. These are GREAT stories! One of our crazy ones was last summer at Disney. One of those torrential rains came through and even though we had ponchos we were soaked. So, of course we started splashing each other – until my SIL tried to splash her brother (my husband) and ended up drenching a stranger! Luckily they thought it was funny.

  8. I love travel outtakes! Storms often contribute to those, don’t they? I haven’t ever unexpectedly stayed with strangers before, but one summer, I traveled with a group to New York that was made up of several school groups in the area. I stayed in a room with two people hadn’t met until the day we left. But we were so busy, it didn’t matter because we were too tired to do anything but sleep when we got back to the hotel. Great stories! It’s moments like these that make the best memories.

  9. I think I will go with our last weather-related incident this past winter on our way up to see the ice castles in New Hampshire. The GPS said ‘go all back roads’ of course this was during a snow storm. We should have stuck to the main roads because that was the only roads the plows were on. It took us an extra couple of hours to get to the ice castles. But we had a great time when we got there.

  10. For our anniversary trip last year we drove from Anaheim to Zion and also wanted to visit Bryce Canyon, but we got about half way to Vegas and they shut down the highway for about 5 or 6 hours overnight due to a snow storm. We ended up having to cut Bryce Canyon out of our trip because of it. We had a nice time just staying in a cabin at an almost empty Zion for the weekend, so it all worked out.

  11. I thought we were the only ones this happens to. Lol! So far we’ve survived a blizzard, hurricane and earthquake while on vacation.

  12. These are the types of things that make the best memories! Glad you have a good attitude about them, and just go with it 🙂

  13. Oh I hope you’re able to track down the people in the photo! It would be neat to hear what they remember about that night. What a wild story.

  14. I love how your son is such an optimist. I lived in Orlando for 10 years and been through some pretty bad hurricanes and thunderstorms. The showers can be quick but they can also pour!

  15. Yep I’ve had a few weather ones. The worst was in Iceland though and not Ireland. Damn the country knows how to throw a spanner in your plans.

  16. Great stories! I’ve definitely been affected by weather. And so fun…I just posted something similar about travel plans going awry and lessons learned!

  17. I’m in Orlando, FL right now and today has been torrential downpours. However, that is not stopping my girls from swimming in the pool and playing outside! It does make for some of the best stories though. We got caught in a late season snow in March while traveling. The girls had been wanting to see it all year.

  18. You have had quite the adventures with the weather. In NC we have had some torrential rainstorms. The house next door was struck by lightning. Oh, and Nicholas and I flew to Disney knowing a hurricane was on its way. Thankfully it ended up being nothing in Orlando, but it was an adventure.

  19. Good to see you try to stay positive – especially your son! It’s like this at the moment in the UK… I want to go out and do outdoorsy things while on furlough but I just don’t have the weather for it! Hopefully soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.