To Travel During Hurricane Season…Or Not

Did anyone else spend all weekend watching The Weather Channel? As with any major weather event, I found myself glued to the coverage of Hurricane Harvey. Of course, my prayers have been with all those affected. The devastation and flooding in Texas is heartbreaking.

On a lighter note- I’ve also been thinking about all the travel impacted by this recent storm. Hurricane season can be a risky time to travel; however, there are also many benefits. Travelers much carefully weigh the risk vs reward AND plan accordingly!

This was my daughter’s first hurricane (which was actually downgraded to Tropical Storm before it hit land!) when we lived in Florida.

In thinking back to our hurricane season travel, I came to the conclusion that we must be risk takers. And possibly magnets for hurricanes- ha! Although we’ve had several close calls and a few tropical storms disrupt our travel, 3 major storms come to mind: Ivan, Joaquin and Matthew.

“Ivan the terrible” hit Jamaica in September 2004, a mere 3 days after we left the Island. At the same time, Hurricane Francis hit Florida. We spent the last half of our honeymoon tuned into LOTS of weather coverage. At one point we weren’t sure we’d make it home because so many flights were cancelled due to the 2 storms.

I remember the Jamaican airport being a zoo as we tried to exit the island (along with everyone else.) Our flight was re-routed in this huge arch out over the Atlantic to avoid the storms, and it was one of the worst flights of my life. But, we were thankful to get home safe. We talked to several people that we met at our resort who had to ride out the Hurricane on cots in the fitness center!

Many years later we took a Disney Cruise during hurricane season. Right about the time we were heading to Florida to board the boat a little disturbance began to pop up on the weather maps. Hurricane Joaquin was a strange storm that made several unpredictable turns. Boarding the boat we were notified that the Captain would have his eyes on the radar, and there could be changes made to our itinerary. Thankfully, we experienced amazing weather and seemed to be about 12 hours ahead of the rain at every port. Unfortunately, the Disney Cruise directly following ours had their trip significantly impacted.

Finally, last year we had a beach vacation to Hilton Head booked for October. In the days leading up to our trip the Island was evacuated. And on the day we should have been arriving HHI took a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew. Of course, we were SO disappointed to miss out on our vacation. But very thankful to be safe!

So- with all our experiences does that mean we’ll stop booking vacations during Hurricane season? Definitely not! Often travelers can get some fabulous deals. In fact, Sylma Brown, director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization USA Inc., reports hotel savings up to 50%, lower airfare, and less crowded beaches.

Of course, those savings come with risk. Here are a few things our family takes into consideration when planning to travel during hurricane season:

  • Peak: Although the official season runs from June 1 through November 30, it peaks late August through October. Additionally you can find annual patterns to know which areas have the strongest probability of being affected by storms.
  • Travel Insurance: Although this adds on to the cost of your trip, it can be a great way to protect yourself in the event of a storm. Most insurance will give a full refund for your trip if there are weather warnings during your travel dates. Travel insurance also covers you in the event of your destination receiving damage prior to your travel.
  • Cruise: If you are willing to be flexible on your trip, cruises are an interesting bet. Most ships can be rerouted to avoid a hurricane. You may book one itinerary, and then experience a totally different one. Rarely are cruises completely cancelled. Often when the itineraries need to be changed you are offered a significant discount on a future cruise. This is a win/win if you enjoy cruises!
  • Safety: Without question, this is the most important part of any trip. We would never do anything to jeopardize or compromise our family’s safety! Regardless of what any hotel, airline, travel agency or weather report says- we will always asses and make our own decisions. I’d rather error on the side of caution- even if it means missing out on the vacation!

How do you feel about planning travel during hurricane season?

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