The main reason I recommend them is that the space it takes up in your bag or luggage is minimal. While an umbrella has metal parts that don’t bend, a poncho can ball up and be the size your fist.
I’m not talking about the cheap, thin yellow plastic ones sold on open-air bus tours that are pretty much garbage bags with holes for your arms. You can get a decent poncho for free or the stylish, all-season one pictured here from Uniqlo for $40 that can fold in it’s own pouch. If you’re looking for something as your main outdoor travel coat, ASOS has a great selection for every price range and taste.
FREE?!? Yup, here’s how…
Donate blood. Depending on where you live or work, you can get a free traveling poncho for donating blood even just once. It’s what I travel with for the past 10 years. I got it via the New York Blood Bank during a blood drive a decade ago. It has a hood with strings, pockets, a pouch zipper, drawstrings on the sleeves, folds into itself and dries quickly. I’ve spent and lost maybe 12 umbrellas in the time I’ve had this poncho that I paid nothing for.
In picking one, you want one big enough that it can protect your over-the-shoulder bag as well. I travel with a messenger bag instead of a backpack so my poncho will give some protection for my bag.
If it’s raining very hard like it does in Seattle or Hong Kong, you’re going to get wet no matter. You just want something you’re not going to loose. With the poncho or parka, you won’t forget it because you are wearing it.