Ten things to do when it rains on your vacation

Barbra Streisand gets it. Rain is the enemy.

I mean, yes, rain is important to our environment and makes all the beautiful things you see on a vacation possible, but when you only have a few days in paradise, rain can really spoil things. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where your dream day of biking or skydiving is canceled due to a torrential downpour, you get it. If you’ve ever come back from a week on an island without a tan … it’s just so sad, isn’t it?

Hurricane season in the Caribbean is upon us (June to November), and while that’s not likely to mean actual hurricanes, it does usually mean you’ll get some rain on your budget tropical excursions. Here are ten ideas to make your rained-in vacation days a little less disappointing. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself anyway.

Ten things to do when it rains on your vacation:

1. Write postcards.

This is an excellent activity for the type-A among us. Writing postcards is potentially something you were going to do anyway, so doing it while it’s raining is actually a very clever use of time. Just try not to be too sad when you look at the front of the postcard and see that sun shining like a jerk.

2. Museums.

So, maybe you weren’t really planning to go a museum, but rain is a good excuse to go get yourself cultured up. If you were planning to visit a museum, this should be a no-brainer. Rain means “do your indoor activities today.” It’s like a message from the universe. A soggy, awful message, but a message nonetheless.

3. Library or lobby bar.

Many hotels and resorts have a library or lobby bar where guests instinctually gather when it rains. Strike up a conversation, make some new friends, have a margarita at 10 AM. Why not? It’s raining. All bets are off.

4. Sleep.

10 AM margaritas frequently lead to naps, and that’s okay. In fact, if you open your eyes in the morning and see rain from your hotel bed, why not sleep an extra hour or so — maybe it will be over when you get up. After all, vacation is about relaxing and rejuvenating, and catching up on all that sleep you missed this year is imperative. Imperative!

5. Games.

On a rainy day, get down to the gift shop early before they run out of decks of cards. Your hotel’s front desk may also have board games you can borrow, and if your hotel has a casino, there are a bunch of games to play there, too (albeit expensive ones). Don’t even try the game room; it will be overrun. Make up your own goofy games if you’re feeling especially restless. Sad photo ops in the rain can be a hilarious pastime.

6. Eat.

Rainy days are a perfect opportunity to dig into the local cuisine. Head into town in a rental car and try out some authentic eating establishments and grocery stores. You may be surprised at the strange food you find — and you might make one of your most lasting memories of the whole trip.

7. In-room movies.

If you’re someone who likes to get things done, why not knock a few titles off your Netflix list by curling up with the in-room movie selections? Rain can be a good excuse to watch movies you’d be embarrassed to go to or have in your home.

8. Theater.

Live theater? Quoi? Yes. Ask your hotel if there is any live theater in the vicinity and go check out a play, a concert or whatever’s playing. This can be an unexpected blessing; you may see an unforgettable performance or learn more about the local culture than you would have otherwise.

9. Spa.

See if any appointments are available at the spa. If there isn’t a spa on the property, the hotel can probably recommend a good one nearby. This may be the only option more relaxing and restorative than sleep.

10. Go out and enjoy the rain.

Can’t stay inside anymore? Then bundle yourself up (if it’s chilly) or put on your swimming suit (if it’s hot) and go play in the rain like a kid. Splash in the puddles, get messy and have fun. Don’t get in the pool if there’s lightning, and certainly don’t go out if the conditions are dangerous (like if there’s an actual hurricane going on), but playing in the rain can relieve the very angst the badly-timed stormy weather gives you.

Travel Fail

If you’re as bored at work as I am, you’ve already discovered the joys of Fail Blog. This little gem popped up a few days ago. I knew that the TSA was strict about what items make their way onto planes, but when did we crack down on pants? What did pants ever do to anyone? Pants are one of the five most docile articles of clothing you can pack. I blame the proliferation of cargo pockets. Of course people are going to be fearful of your pants when they contain any number of secret compartments hiding mysterious items like wallets, passports and hard candies.

So next time you’re heading to the airport, leave your pants at home. The TSA is sure to appreciate how easy it is to search you while you’re in tightie whities and your baggage won’t be flagged. And don’t get cocky by trying to smuggle gas in your pants. As you can see above, that would be a double-whammy.

Pennsylvania hotel breaking all the rules

When inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture responded to a consumer complaint at the Holiday Inn in Lancaster County, they were surprised by what they found — but given the hotel’s laundry list of offenses, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a shock.

When the hotel’s walk-in refrigerator failed, they moved its contents to a guest room for cooling. The room’s air conditioner was turned all the way down to 65 degrees — 24 degrees higher than the maximum temperature allowed by state public health guidelines. This is but one of many ridiculous incidents that begs the question: Why is this Holiday Inn still open?

On the same day of the food inspection, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement officers searched the hotel and found that it was selling liquor without a license, and had been doing so for over a year, when ownership changed hands and the new owners never sought to renew the liquor license.

The problems don’t end there.Treasury officials say the hotel has failed to pay taxes since July 21. There is no way to know how much the hotel owes, because those figures come from the hotel’s monthly reports, and guess what? Those aren’t accurate or complete, either. However, the state Department of Revenue recently placed a lien on the property for $29,259.28 in unpaid sales taxes for November and December of 2007.

Employees paint an even grimmer picture for the Holiday Inn. They say paychecks have been late and have bounced, and they have been paying insurance premiums out of their paychecks, yet the hotel isn’t actually carrying insurance. One employee found this out the hard way when he went in for surgery and was told he didn’t have insurance, even though he’d been paying for it through his employer.

Housekeeping employees have been instructed to rinse out and reuse disposable supplies in guest rooms. This includes refilling used shampoo bottles and — ew — rinsing out and reusing trash bags. The job market in Lancaster must be pretty dismal for these workers to stick around.

On top of everything else, utilities and cable have been shut off at the hotel due to failure to pay bills, and the building has failed fire code inspections as well.

What does a hotel in Lancaster County, PA have to do to get shut down?!

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