Tropical destinations are a great choice for summer vacations, but what you might not have realized is that the summer months is hurricane season for many. Travel agents and experts recommend traveling “off-season” for many different reasons. Firstly you’ll find that there are fewer crowds, cheaper flights, shorter lines for attractions and better resort prices. But have you ever considered why it is considered “off-season”? Well, despite what some people think, it has nothing to do with school vacations and everything to do with the weather because in tropical nations winter is hurricane season.
The Atlantic and Pacific hurricane season begins, officially, at the very beginning of June (around the 1st) and ends at the very end of November. From August to October is generally considered hurricane “peak” season and, as such, poses the highest risk. Vacationing at either end of the season still poses a risk of getting caught in a hurricane, but it’s a much lower one.
Hurricane season has become the time when travel agents and vacation suppliers try to tempt budget conscious travellers with great deals despite the media coverage of hurricanes. If you’re one of those price savvy shoppers then we have some tips to help you ensure that a hurricane won’t ruin your Caribbean vacation.
- Check the small print for cancellation options
Traditionally speaking most hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals within hurricane areas have what are called “hurricane guarantees”, but in recent years they’ve started to disappear. What these guarantees mean is that, if a hurricane is imminent and flights are grounded, many airlines will waive the usual change fees and let you rebook within a certain time. If you’re renting a beach house then check your rental contract to see if the owner will reimburse you should an evacuation take place during your stay (most won’t), and if you’re staying at a resort remember to ask them about their hurricane guarantees.
- Determine how to abandon your trip
Be sure to check the details of your lodgings and flights to get a good idea of what can and cannot be done in the event of a hurricane because it’s one thing to cancel before you get there, but it’s entirely different to be there when a hurricane lands. Most likely you’ll be safe riding out the hurricane in your resort, but most likely you won’t have the vacation you wanted.
- Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance is always a must have, but this is especially the case when you’re travelling in hurricane season. Hurricane coverage can ensure you’re reimbursed for all pre-paid costs if your destination or primary residence is rendered totally uninhabitable by the hurricane. If you add “cancel for any reason” coverage you can get your money back even if the resort isn’t completely destroyed. The right travel insurance plan can do wonders!
- Do a little emergency planning
Doing some emergency planning can do a lot to ensure that you ride out uncomfortable situations with a degree of ease.
- Make sure you have a simple travel medical portfolio for each member of your party.
- Have a basic travel medical kit to hand just in case someone needs medical care.
You’re really best to avoid travelling in hurricane season if you can, but if you’re already there and a hurricane is on its way you might be ordered to evacuate. If you are then be sure to follow all instructions you’re given quickly and without argument; the authorities are used to dealing with these situations.
- Pay attention to the weather
Keeping one eye on the weather is a critical part of staying on top of the situation. Hurricane hazards can come in many forms including unusually heavy rainfall, storm surges, inland flooding, rip tides, and high winds. The National Weather Service does keep on top of these indicators, and issues warning where and when appropriate, but nonetheless it’s still a good idea to pay attention to the weather if you’re travelling in hurricane season.
- Have a backup vacation plan
If you don’t get a lot of vacation time you’ll want to be certain that you’re going to get away, and as such it’s best to have a back-up plan. Get “cancel for any reason” cover for your Caribbean trip and have a backup in mind so that if you think a hurricane is drawing in you can cancel, book your backup and still have a great vacation.