We’re still in the beginning months of the Atlantic hurricane season, and even though Houstonians have experienced a three-year drought of hurricane activity, there’s always travel plans to consider as plenty of summertime hot spots can be affected. Currently, Tropical Storm Earl is expected to make landfall Thursday in Belize, a popular tourist destination. While most travel experts recommend travelling during the “off-season” for obvious reasons, including fewer crowds and cheaper flights, it still coincides with “hurricane season.” If you have plans to travel to Belize or another island that is largely familiar with hurricanes, especially in the Caribbean and Central America, consider the following tips to keep a potential hurricane from ruining your vacation:
- Travel insurance is a good idea: In case you have to cancel or change your plans at the last minute, it’s a good idea to protect your investment with trip insurance, especially if you plan on visiting during peak hurricane season (September and early October.) Specifically, you’ll want to get trip-cancellation insurance, which ensures that travelers who have purchased advance airline or cruise tickets and arranged hotel stays will be fully compensated if a storm prevents them from traveling. Recommended insurers include Travelex Insurance Services, Access America and Travel Guard International.
- Read the fine print on any hurricane guarantees.Some resorts offer a hurricane guarantee, but be sure to read and understand the fine print before you go. You may get only a portion of your money back or you may be offered a voucher for a future stay just for those nights your trip was affected. Hiring a travel agent can eliminate the hassle of reading through offers, and can easily make adjustments to your flight and hotel reservations, all the while monitoring the weather.
- Remember your ABC’S: Those who want to go to the Caribbean but don’t want to worry about hurricanes should remember their ABCs – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, which are all located on the southern fringes of the hurricane belt. Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados are also far south (but east of the ABCs) and rarely get hurricanes.
- Have an evacuation plan: When and if a hurricane hits, ask the hotel staff what to do – they will likely have a plan in place. Hotels will typically move guests to an interior ballroom area, where they could all be in one room and insulated from the outside storm. Don’t stay in your hotel room! You run the risk of getting hit with breaking window glass. If you don’t have time to consult with the staff, head to any interior room or stairwell without windows.
- Bring Cash: If the power is out, so are the machines that process credit card transactions. Have paper currency on hand.
- Don’t check your bags: If you possibly can, bring a carry-on and that’s it. With canceled and rescheduled flights occurring more frequently during hurricane season, it is easy for your suitcase to be lost in the shuffle.
With all of these tips in mind, it’s important to remain positive and not to skip out on hurricane season travel altogether! Travelers shouldn’t get overly stressed during hurricane season. The odds of a hurricane hitting are still very low and with the perks of the overall value of traveling during this time of year, it’s still worth the small risk of an inconvenience it may bring to your plans.