Beach vacations in the U.S., The Caribbean, Mexico and even Hawaii are very popular with Families. The most popular time of year for families to take that idyllic beach vacation is when school's out for summer vacation. This coincides perfectly with hurricane season.
So how do you plan for a fun family vacation in the middle of hurricane season?
Here are some tips to take the worries out of your travels...
1. Know your Seasons
Hurricane season differs depending on where in the world your perfect beach is found.
- Atlantic Ocean - Hurricane Season for the U.S. Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea runs from June 1st until November 30th with August - October being the most active times for major storms.
- Northern Pacific - Storms can happen anytime but May through November is the most common time to encounter a storm with August and September being the most active months
- South Pacific - Oct. 15- May 31 with February and March being the most active. Remember seasons are opposite south of the equator. This would also include Africa and Australia.
- Indian Ocean - Hurricane season runs April 1 to December 31 including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
2. Don't Trust the Weatherman
Hurricane season is also the wet or rainy season in these areas. In tropical areas during the rainy season it is common for there to be rain every day. Check a 7 day forecast for your summer island vacation and you'll most likely see the prediction of 7 days of thunderstorms. This does not mean your family will be locked in their hotel room playing "go fish" for the entire week. It's normal for it to rain a few minutes every day. Often this rain is refreshing relief from the tropical heat. The clouds quickly pass and within a few minutes there is no trace of any rain. Remember this rain is also the reason for the gorgeous tropical flowers and the lush foliage.
3. Don't Let it Stop Your Fun
When we're talking about Atlantic Hurricane season, it's important to remember the Atlantic Ocean is a huge piece of geography. Imagine someone saying they are afraid to travel to New York because they heard there were threats of forest fires in California. A storm affecting one part of the Caribbean doesn't mean there won't be sunny skies everywhere else. Leave your worries at home and focus on the fun!
4. Choose the Right Destination
Hurricanes generally follow certain pathways thru the Atlantic ocean. There are some islands and areas in the Caribbean that are at a lower risk because they lie south of what is known as the "hurricane belt". The "ABC" islands of Aruba, Barbados and Curacao are rarely affected by hurricanes as well as other areas of the southern Caribbean like Panama. If you're really concerned about traveling during a hurricane then perhaps one of these destinations may be right for you.
5. Consider a Family Cruise
Cruise ships can move, change course and avoid hurricanes, resorts cannot. If you're worried about the threat of a hurricane then perhaps a cruise is the right choice. If you're concerned that stormy seas may mean a rocky and rough ride, think again. Most of the newer, family friendly cruise ships have all been built with computerized stabilization systems to insure smooth sailing and no seasickness.
6. You Will Get A Refund
If a major storm prevents airplanes from flying, your cruise ship from diverting or a hotel feels guests would be endangered then travelers will be refunded for the cost of their trip. Be prepared and understand, often these decisions are not made until the very last minute. The amount and type of your refund will be determined by the fine print in your travel documents. Forecasters will make their best predictions of a storm's expected path but then you're dealing with mother nature there can always be surprises.
7. Protect Your Peace of Mind With Travel Insurance
There are many types of travel insurance policies, and each come with different price tags and different amounts of risk. Some policies will immediately refund a cash credit to your credit card. Other travel insurance plans offer future travel credits that must be used within a certain amount of time.. Some policies pay only if the trip when a storm has a certain classification or if a storm is named.
With most policies, simply being afraid to travel may not be a reason to cancel or get a refund. What parent wants to put their children in harm's way or find themselves out of pocket for substantial sums?
This is why we HIGHLY recommend "Cancel For Any Reason" travel insurance for families traveling during hurricane season. If you're concerned about impending weather forecasts, you can be the one to make the decision to cancel or re-schedule your vacation. The cost of travel insurance is based on many different factors but expect to pay about 10% of the total cost of your trip for this type of coverage. These policies also includes "trip interruption" coverage. This would protect your family if your vacation was interrupted by a storm. You could decide to return home early and get reimbursed for unused travel expenses.
8. Pack Some Patience
Remember whenever there is a hurricane, it is a stressful time for everyone. It's important to understand there may long hold times or computer service interruptions when you're trying to get some answers. If there is storm damage, phone lines may be down. Staff may be working very long hours to make sure everyone gets their needs met. It's important to keep things in perspective. It's completely understandable that your family is disappointed about your vacation plans. It's also important to remember there are other families out there who's lives have been directly impacted and have been put at risk by the storm.
9. Be Prepared
It's the scout's motto! Pack rain gear just in case, some power bars, a collapsible water bottle and a solar or back up battery charger for your electronics. Keep passports and other important travel documents dry in ziploc bags. Always keep important medications and a first aide kit with you. Designate a point person back home. Someone you can rely on and contact should there be any emergencies. Leave photocopies of your passports, itinerary and credit cards with this trusted person just in case.
8. Work with a Travel Agent
Having an experienced travel agent on your side is priceless should any part of your vacation not go according to plan. Travel agents know the rules and how to get things done. More often than not, they have local personal contacts that can be invaluable. Let's face it, not all travel products are created equal. Did you know some resorts have fully equipped emergency storm shelters on property to protect your family from having to be evacuated to a local storm emergency center in a storm emergency? A good travel agent knows this and can help you make the right decisions every step of the way so that you can travel without worry.
People who worry about traveling during a hurricane often forget to consider the "big picture". A major snow storm can also wreak havoc on vacation plans. Bad rain storms at any time of year can ground flights at any airport putting a hiccup in your travel schedule.
The best advice is to focus on the fun and be positive. Odds are, a hurricane is probably the least likely of all of your worries. That said, work with a professional travel agent that has your back and knows how to protect you from hassles, worries and uncertainties.