Last year’s hurricane season brought heavy winds, rain and destruction to several of the Caribbean islands and this year seems to be brewing up even more threats. If there was ever a time to be prepared for the unknown, hurricane season is it. Here are some tips and suggestions for traveling during hurricane season:
First, don’t let hurricane season stop you from booking the trip - Hurricane season runs from June through November and the weather is always unpredictable during that time frame but remember that the chances of a storm hitting where you are traveling on the exact date you are traveling are very low.
Consider a cruise - You might be better off at sea than on land when a hurricane is looming. If you are on a cruise, the captain will have fair warning because of the weather technology that is available and can easily outrun the storm or head out to sea. They can adjust their ports of call and reroute if necessary.
If you have your heart set on a sun and fun land vacation, try picking a destination that is less likely to be hit. Consider Hawaii, Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao.
Get the right travel protection insurance - There are many types of policies and each involves different amounts of risk. If you purchase insurance through the cruise or land vendor, some will reimburse you in cash and some only reimburse you in future travel credits to be used within a certain time period. Some policies pay only if the trip is canceled by the supplier or if the storm is named. Always review your policy and call the insurance provider for more detailed answers to your specific questions. Full reimbursement generally is not paid if you are cancelling just because you are afraid to go because a storm is headed in the direction you are to travel. I encourage my clients to purchase an independent ‘Cancel for ANY Reason’ policy. It does tend to be more expensive but if something goes wrong, everyone will be much happier. With a good insurance policy, the insurance vendor will work with you while traveling to keep you safe and help get you out of there if necessary. Keep in mind that insurance protection coverage is valid only if it is purchased before a storm is named. Once a storm is named it becomes a “known event” and purchasing a policy at that point will not provide you any coverage for damages caused by the storm.
Go with the flow - Be prepared for change and do not let it ruin your trip. If on a cruise, for example, the captain will make changes in the itinerary based on safety. His job is to keep everyone on that ship safe and all changes he makes are made with your safety in mind. It doesn’t do any good to be mad about it or complain.
Factor in buffer travel time - You will also want to think through what would happen if you were delayed an extra day or two at the end of the trip. How is that going to affect you? And who else would be affected - babysitters, fellow workers who are handling work deadlines, etc.? Are they still able to be there for you if you couldn’t make it home for a few more days?
Take some extra items - Be prepared for additional travel days by packing a few extra days of medications. Put any bathroom essentials, your phone charger, extra clothes and medications in your carry-on bag in case you have to overnight in your layover city because of weather problems or flight cancellations. You will be separated from your checked bag until you reach your destination.
As a travel agent, I know what suppliers to book with. I belong to a consortium that has a list of reputable suppliers that have been checked out for financially stability and for reliability. These suppliers and their partners can provide me with extra help when things go wrong. If you book with an online agency, you more than likely will be on your own in bad weather situations. A well-connected travel agent and a reputable supplier/vendor can make a big difference in how a traveler is treated in emergencies. Let us be there for you!