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The weather in BC is notoriously fickle. It isn’t uncommon to overhear Vancouverites argue over the best weather app to use, as some apps are woefully inadequate at predicting when that sunny day on a brewery patio will turn into a soggy, rainy affair.

And it isn’t just BC that enjoys a roller coaster of mother nature’s weather offerings. Several destinations in Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, Northern Europe and Asia (to name just a few) fall prey to unpredictable weather. Hurricanes, monsoons, sudden chills at night, and unexpected heat waves during the day – how does one pack for all that? How does a traveller plan for what’s essentially unplannable?

That’s the question we’re tackling today. If you’re planning a trip to an unforeseeable part of the world, here are a few packing tips to ensure you’re prepared for anything. These are also fantastic tips if you’re travelling to multiple locations with distinct climates and weather patterns.

Consider Merino Wool

When packing for unpredictable weather, it’s best practice to pick versatile garments. And in the world of versatile clothing, merino wool reigns supreme.

Merino wool seems tailor-made for the travel experience. It’s a natural product, but it withstands weather extremes better than any lab-made material could. It’s sweat-wicking and breathable, which keeps you cool in the heat. It’s insulating, which keeps you warm in the cold. And it’s fast-drying, which is a godsend in rainy destinations.

Much of the merino out there is strictly exercise wear, but some companies like Unbound Merino make clothing specifically for travel. They make garments that look stylish enough for a night out in the city, but are functional enough for a trek in the wilderness. Because the garments are so versatile, you end up packing lighter – which is always a bonus.  

Layer Up

Layering makes perfect sense for destinations with unpredictable weather. If, for instance, you simply packed a t-shirt and a bulky coat, you run the risk of being too cold or too hot. On the other hand, layering allows you to dial in on the perfect temperature.

Traditionally, layering involves three elements: the base layer, the middle layer and the outer (or shell) layer. For the base layer, refer to the tip above – find a great merino wool clothing line for women that includes shirts, socks and underwear.

The middle layer is your opportunity to express your individual fashion sense. Comfy knit sweaters, bright sweatshirts, jeans, yoga pants, a jumper… pack whatever you feel most comfortable wearing! Finally, the outer layer is your protection from the wind and rain; common outer layer garments include rain shell jackets, winter coats, trench coats and puffer jackets.

When faced with shifting weather patterns, simply shed or add layers as necessary to stay cool, warm or dry.

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Stay (Semi) Connected with Portable Wi-Fi

If it’s going to rain in half an hour, you want to know about it. If the temperature’s dropping into the minuses tonight, you want to be prepared. Accessible Wi-Fi is rarely a guarantee when travelling (especially if you’re out in the wilderness), so to keep up-to-date with your phone’s weather app, consider packing a portable Wi-Fi device.

Just make sure to put your phone away when you finish checking the weather; you don’t want to be too connected, or you might miss the wonders of the world around you.

For Skincare, Take a Scattershot Approach

One moment you’re sweating through the sticky, humid streets of Toronto, and the next, you’re amid the dry, bracing mountains of Alberta. A cross-country road trip through Canada can be quite the adventure for your skin – not always in the best way.

If you’re travelling across multiple climates (or to a destination that enjoys humidity and dryness), take a scattershot approach to skincare. Pack a small bottle of moisturizer and a chapstick for dryness, as well as face wipes, cleanser and de-frizzing hair product for humid environments. Oh, and don’t forget to pack that sunscreen!

Embrace the Uncertain

Let’s end on a reflective note – this isn’t so much a packing tip as it is a life philosophy.

You can’t predict everything; life wouldn’t be all that interesting if you could. Part of the joy of travel is learning to embrace the uncertain – whether it’s the anything-goes bustle of a Bangkok market, the we may leave empty-handed gamble of a fishing trip in Parksville, or the occasional unexpected downpour while you’re trekking through Algonquin.

You can prepare all you want, but if you don’t back that preparation up with an open-minded attitude, you may feel the sting of disappointment if the weather doesn’t pan out like you wanted.

With a flexible attitude, some merino wool travel clothing, a few thoughtful layers, a portable Wi-Fi device and all the skincare goodies you need, you’re ready to face whatever nature throws at you.