Sometimes you want to get caught in the rain… but a monsoon? That changes things. There’s a big difference between the two, and when it comes to traveling in monsoon season, that difference can last several days- or weeks. Here’s a short guide to monsoon seasons so you know before you go – or before you don’t go.
First off, a monsoon is described as the rainy phase of a seasonal –changing pattern related to atmospheric circulation and precipitation. The temperature difference between land and that of the ocean has to be significantly different for these monsoons to form. The monsoon can be also referred to as the “wet season” versus the “dry season”.
Where and When Do Monsoon Seasons Occur?
North America –Southern states as well as Western states in Sierra Madre areas from late June throughout September
Central America –All of Central America from May through December
South America – Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Amazon areas from December through April
Europe –Northern coast of England, Ireland, Germany and Benelux counties from late March to May and from June to late July a second time
Africa –Northern Africa from June through October
Australia – Northern and western coast From September through February
Oceania – Tahiti, Cook Islands, Fiji, and surrounding islands from November to March
Asia – Has 3 distinct Monsoon Seasons!
1. Southwestern region – India and surrounding countries from June throughout September
2. Northeastern region – India, Sri Lanka throughout the Indian Ocean from December to early March
3. Eastern – China, Korea, Japan, Phillippines and surrounding countries from May through August
Dangers and Considerations for Whether to Avoid Traveling During Monsoon Season
This list should include what you may encounter and if you would rather wait for a different time of the year to visit the destination.
- Flight delays and cancellations including major turbulence if you take off in a plane
- Mud slides
- Dust storms
- Dangerous waves if you’re close by the ocean as well as rip currents
- Loss of electricity and power
- Higher chance of boat and car accidents – if you have to go outside, try to walk instead
- Don’t walk if streams or streets are flooding so you do not get stuck in mud or fast-moving water!
- Turn off electronic devices if there is thunder or lightning
- You may ultimately lose contact with the outside world and be “stranded” in the country you are
What You Should Pack if You Decide to Go
If possible, especially for Asia’s monsoon season which is always the most intense, bring with you or purchase these items.
- Raincoat – make it a long one!
- Waterproof backpack so nothing gets wet
- Sturdy boots – rainboots, Timberlands, hiking boots etc.
- Sturdy umbrella – not the $5 one you buy off the street
- A list of phone numbers to contact airlines, your embassy, family members, anyone that can get a message to home if you’re not allowed to leave to another destination
- Gallons or bottles of water – purchase these when you arrive if possible
- Extra snacks – Grocery shop for food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked if you lose electricity – such as granola bars, beef jerky, fruits, canned food
- Extra batteries and a radio if you have
- A first aid kit and any medications you might possibly need
- Flashlights, candles and matches
- Bug spray so you don’t get millions of bites
- A book or games to keep you company
The most important thing to remember is to stay safe and if possible, get to know the staff at the hotel, the people at the hostels or whichever your accomodations are so you can help each other and weather the storm together.
While some destinations can still be visited during monsoon season, others should be avoided. Think about what you’re going for: If you want to visit Peru to hike Machu Picchu, do you really want to be hiking for three days in torrential downpours? If you’re visiting Thailand, and the rain just won’t stop, it’s sometimes best to forgo your plans and wait for the rain to ease up. No one likes being stranded on an island with no power for 3 weeks because you “thought it would be okay.” Just sayin’!