Do you travel during the hurricane season?
A lot of people do because this is one of the cheapest periods to travel. But is the hurricane “Irma” ringing any bell? The hurricane Irma completely destroyed the islands of Barbuda, St. Martin, and huge parts of Anguilla, St. Kitts, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, Cuba and finally Florida.
What would you have done if you were on one of those gorgeous, but then dangerous islands when Irma struck?
No one likes to cancel a trip: at least not a well-planned trip to the Caribbean, Mexico, The Pacific and Southern U.S. and other such attractive spots. During the low seasons (aka hurricane season), there are a number of great travel deals that can be available as vacations are offered at low rates, and extras like spa treatments and resort credits are included to make it irresistible. Also, the weather is unpredictable and may not be as bad as forecast, so a lot of people decide to be adventurous enough to stick to their plans.
There are however some serious factors to put into consideration before making your final decision on whether to go or cancel your trip. With Hurricane Irma, that was a Category 5 storm, how well do you think you can you beat that?
So whether if you get unpredictably caught in a hurricane or you decide to brave the forecasts, here are the best hurricane travel tips.
Always get advice from an experienced travel agent
You may have a load of travel experiences, but nothing beats the services of an experienced hurricane travel agent. When you know an honest one that has dealt with different kinds of clients traveling to different destinations at different times of the year, you can be sure of receiving the best in terms of advice and deals.
When dealing with an experienced travel agent, be sure to show her that you value her opinions. This way, she will comfortably do her job of planning a suitable vacation for you, and help you come back home if you ever get caught in a hurricane.
Of course, since you’ll be traveling during hurricane season, travel insurance is highly recommended at the time of booking. So if mother nature becomes too wild, you’ll be covered and then you can take a closer look at your travel insurance policy.
Though standard travel insurance policy may be purchased up until the day a traveler leaves on a trip, for a policy to cover any loss as a result of a storm, it must have been taken out before the storm is named. In dealing with weather related issues like a hurricane, the major features to pay attention to include trip cancellation, trip interruption, missed connections, travel delay and how the policy defines ‘natural disaster’ or ‘inclement weather’.
If you are covered, you can be refunded for the following:
- Evacuation at your destination due to natural disaster
- Severe weather that causes an airport to shut down
- Accommodation if the destination is uninhabitable
- Travel delays that cause you to miss more than 50% of your trip
The only available option after a hurricane has been named is a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade, which allows the insured persons to cancel their trip for any reason, but then they will only receive up to 75% reimbursement. CFAR is only an option when the policy is bought within a set number of days of when a trip is booked.
Flights and Airport Hassles
In the past few years, airlines have improved a lot when it comes to handling bad weather conditions. For safety, they may cancel a flight at the slightest possibility of a mishap. You have to agree that this is a nice thing, in spite of your adventurous self.
To be on the safe side, sign up for flight status alerts. Also, do not leave for the airport if your flight is not confirmed to avoid being caught-up in a frenzy that may be too much for yourself or family members (you don’t want to be looking for a loved one in a confused crowd).
Airlines are not required to compensate passengers or provide hotel accommodation for travelers who are stranded, as hurricanes and earthquakes are deemed Acts of God, and not within the airlines’ control.
But some airlines go over and above in their efforts to take care of travelers who have bookings with them. For example, because of Hurricane Irma, American Airlines allowed anyone impacted to rebook without additional fees. If a flight had been canceled or delayed, customers were entitled to apply for a refund on the airline’s website.
Photo credit: Bryan Goff
More and more hotels that are in the path of Atlantic hurricanes now offer protection policies.
Travelers are advised to check with their individual hotels in case of a hurricane.
According the official Disney website, if a hurricane warning is issued within 7 days of your arrival date, you can cancel or reschedule your holiday and hotel (if booked directly with Disney) without incurring any cancellation fees.
Information is power, and in that case, it might even mean survival. Ask the local people, watch the news and stay informed. Don’t take any chances, especially when you travel with your family!
Have you ever traveled during hurricane season, and if so, did you ever had to cancel or postpone your vacation?