Budget conscious travelers are often tempted by travel companies to take their vacations “off-season” with cheap flights, resort prices and little extras. Resorts, cruise-liners and airlines all hop onto this bandwagon. With cheaper flights, shorter lines, and better prices for all inclusive packages you might wonder what, precisely, makes off-season… well, off season? Contrary to what some people think it has nothing to do with the school vacations and everything to do with the weather.
You see from June 1st to November 30th is the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane season! Though the peak season for hurricanes is actually August to October so travelling at either end of the season is slightly lower risk than in these months. Nonetheless it is still a risk so you should have a contingency plan in place, just to be sure. The media attention surrounding hurricanes should give you an idea of what to expect should one hit while you’re away. Here are our top 6 tips to ensure that your Caribbean or tropical vacation isn’t ruined should a hurricane land when you’re due to get away.
- Check the small print for cancellation options
Until recently it was pretty common for resorts, vacation rentals and other such places in the hurricane belt to have, what were commonly called, “hurricane guarantees”. In recent years, however, these have become less usual. When a hurricane is on its way and flights are grounded most flights will waive the usual change fees and allow you to rebook your travel within a certain time, so make sure that where you’re staying will allow you the same provisions. Ask your resort or hotel about their hurricane guarantees.
- Determine how to abandon your trip (should you need to)
It’s one thing to cancel your trip before you go, if you have the right insurance it shouldn’t be an issue, is one thing, but it’s entirely another thing to be on your vacation when a hurricane lands. Look into the details of your accommodation and flights before you go to find out just what you can and can’t do in the event of an evacuation or hurricane. You’ll probably be safe sticking where you are if one sneaks up on you, but you certainly won’t have the vacation you envisioned.
- Invest in good travel insurance
The right level of travel insurance coverage can make vacation nightmares much easier to deal with in the long run. Basic coverage for hurricanes will ensure that you’re reimbursed for all pre-paid costs should your accommodation be rendered uninhabitable. If you’d like to option to cancel should a hurricane look likely you should pay a little extra for “cancel for any reason” coverage which will guarantee you full reimbursement no matter why you cancel.
- Do a little forward thinking
A little planning can go a long, long way if you come face to face with an emergency situation, or weather hazards:
- Make sure you have a simple travel medical portfolio for everyone
- Make up a basic travel medical kit in case someone needs basic medical attention and there’s no way to get to a doctor’s surgery.
Of course staying well out of the path of any hurricanes is the best plan of action for anyone, but there are times when they can catch you off guard. For this reason it pays to be prepared.
- Pay attention to the weather
Keeping one step ahead when it comes to hurricane season is absolutely essential when it comes to being able to get out of the way in good time. The following things can be indicators of oncoming hurricanes: unusually heavy rainfall, storm surges, high winds, and inland flooding. The National Weather Service is, of course, always keeping an eye out during the season, and will put out warnings, but you should never ignore any signs you see.
- Have a plan B
If you’ve invested in “cancel for any reason” coverage then you should have a backup plan in effect. This means that if you think a hurricane is on its way you can cut your losses, cancel and book a backup vacation to make sure that you don’t miss out on. After all, vacation time is precious.