Family Vacation Tips

What Happens if There is a Hurricane During Our Vacation

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 29, 2014 9:33:00 AM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

What happens if there is a hurricane during my vacationSometimes, "stuff" happens even with the best made vacation plans.The photo here is one I took after witnessing the strength and destruction of hurricane Wilma in Cancun a few years ago.

Most families plan their vacations around a school calendar. Hurricane season is unfortunately a reality of summer vacation. The season runs from June 1 – and ends November 30th. August through October are considered to be the height of the season.

Many gorgeous beach areas of the Caribbean, Mexico, The Pacific and Southern U.S. are popular family destination spots also visited by hurricanes. There is no reason to fear planning a summer family vacation to these areas. These are HUGE geographic areas. The good weather odds are in your favor. To help alleviate any remaing worries, here are a few tips to help:

1. Book Your Vacation with an Experienced Travel Agent - Good travel agents have first hand experiences with destinations and especially resorts. Sure, they have restaurant and sightseeing tips but experienced agents know even more. An experienced agent knows which hotels have been built to structurally withstand storm damage. When Our Vacationkids staff do hotel inspections, we ask to see "hurricane" centers that some resorts built right on property with plenty of generators, food, water and supplies. They also have local contacts on the ground that can be invaluable in emergency situations. Check out these two recent reports from Hurricane Odile that recently hit Los Cabos Mexico. The first is a CBS News Report of one family's ordeal. The second is an article written by a travel agent who was also vacationing with her own family but had a completely different experience.

2. Travel Protection Insurance - Nobody has a crystal Ball and this is why Travel Insurance gives you peace of mind. It not only protects your family with features like medical coverage and theft protection, it also protects your vacation investment. When it comes to dealing with hurricanes, pay close attention to these policy features -

  • Cancel For Any Reason - as the name of this coverage suggests, you can simply cancel your reservation for full reimbursement. This type of coverage usually costs a bit more but you don't have to worry about reading all the fine print coverage details.

  • Trip cancellation - If a hurricane is a covered reason for cancelling your trip, you can recover up to 100% of your pre-paid non-refundable trip.

  • Trip interruption - This coverage  reimburses travelers for  any unused pre-paid travel expenses and unexpected additional costs if they have to end their trip early and leave to avoid a hurricane. It is important coverage to have because last minute flight prices during a high demand storm time are very pricey.

  • Missed connections - this coverage reimburses travelers for unused pre-paid expenses and reasonable additional expenses if they miss a connecting flight or cruise departure as a result of hurricane cancellations.

  • Travel delay - this coverage reimburses travelers for reasonable expenses if they are delayed over a certain number of hours as a result of hurricane-caused travel delays

3. Know Your Cancellation Policies - Airlines and hotels will often waive any last minute cancellations or change fees if there is an impending storm. Announcements are noted on airline and hotel websites. If not, your travel agent will know how to find out this information for you. 
Weather resports can be a fickle science. Storm path predictions can often be "best guess" last minute scenarios. For this reason, changes in cancellation policies may happen a few hours prior to your departure. It is a situation that calls for both patiences and then decisive action. Be alert, know your options and have a "plan b" ready to be implemented or be willing to sit for hours in phone hold hell.
4. Stay Informed- Yes, you're on vacation but do not be oblivious to the rest of the world. Log online for a couple of minutes to get the latest weather updates. Even if you are in a foreign speaking country, chances are you can tune into CNN or the BBC to see what is going on with the rest of the planet. If all else fails, ASK some one at the hotels. 

5. Listen to the Locals- When it comes to local weather and procedures, they are the experts. If they have rules and procedures in place, remember it is for your safety. Local friends explained what hurricane winds and flood damage could do. I didn't believe it until I experienced it and saw it with my own eyes.
During hurricanes, good resort staff members work tirelessly to ensure their guests are safe and sound. I have seen them work for days straight, without time off and in terrible conditions. Guests need to remember that the same dedicated staff members are also separated from and worrying about their own families and children riding out the storm at home. Patience, help and understanding is often in short supply due to worry and nerves.

6. Take Responsibility- When it comes to natural disasters, think like Macgyver Think about basic life necessities your family will need.
ALWAYS travel with a medical first aide kit, any prescription medications your family members may need and a small battery flashlight. WRITE DOWN important phone numbers in case you cannot charge your cell phone. If you know a storm is pending do your best to keep items like power bars and bottled water with you at all times. Use ziploc bags to help keep passports dry. Have little items at hand like a deck of cards or notepad and paper to help keed the kids engaged and calm.  
No body likes to think about bad things like hurricanes happening during their vacation time. Please do no let fear stop you from creating priceless memories with your kids. Just be an informed vacationer, stay alert and know our Vacationkids staff is here to help you every step of the way.

Topics: family vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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