Travel Tips: Packing for Seattle

Travel Tips — By Michelle Schusterman on August 9, 2010 at 12:05 am

Galoshes. Rain coats and windbreakers. A good, sturdy umbrella.

Are these on your packing list for your trip to Seattle? Crumple that page up and let’s start over; Seattle isn’t quite what you might expect.

“It rains all the time” – that’s what most people say when they think of this city. But that’s not what Seattleites say. The truth is, the average rainfall here is even less than New York City, which doesn’t have nearly the reputation for constant dampness.

My theory is that Seattle has this reputation simply because it could (and depending on the time of year, might very possibly) start to sprinkle at any given moment. Even if it clears right up in 15 minutes, you’re still left with a weather forecast of “chance of showers” day after day, giving the impression of much more constant, gloomy weather.

The key is to be prepared, but as a tourist you sure don’t want to get stuck clomping around the city on a bright sunny day with an umbrella taking up backpack space and a bulky poncho slung over your shoulder. Instead, try these tips:

Think Layers

T-shirts and polo shirts, light hoodies, fleece jackets, one good raincoat if you’re going in the winter (in the summer, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need it). Even summer nights can get a little chilly, especially near the water, so make sure you have something to throw over your shoulders when the sun goes down.

Shoes That Can Take It

On-and-off drizzle means wet streets, so if you’re planning on spending a lot of time walking, don’t invest in an expensive blinding-white pair of tennis shoes. Stick with what’s comfortable and won’t get wrecked by the occasional puddle. In the summer, sandals are great – it does get up into the eighties occasionally!

Bring the Bathing Suit

That’s right, Seattle has beaches. Real ones with white sand and blue water, perfect for sunbathing (summer only, of course)! A stroll down Alki Beach on a warm July day will leave you wishing you’d tossed that two-piece in your suitcase.

Ditch the Umbrella

Really, it’s the sign of a tourist, as is a sturdy, squeaky-new windbreaker. If it rains, duck inside a cafe. Worried about your hair? Grab a hat or pull up the hoodie. Or just embrace the frizzies – I do. An umbrella is an unnecessary weight in your suitcase.

[photo courtesy of bensonkua]

Tags: packing, seattle, travel, visiting

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