Traveling During Hurricane Season 101

Lush forest and turquoise lakes stretching out to the horizon in Curacao.

Hurricane season officially runs June 1 to November 30, with the most frequent hurricanes occurring from late August to mid-October. Fortunately, because hurricanes typically come around the same time of year, and because they take some time to develop, most travelers should not be caught off guard. There will be several warnings etc… issued way before you take off.

But, you still need to know how to prepare yourself if you plan to travel to the Caribbean or tropics during this time of the year. I’ll share some tips:

What is a Hurricane?

According to the VisitFlorida website, a hurricane is a tropical cyclone with a defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (65 knots) or greater in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern North Pacific Ocean. This same tropical cyclone is known as a typhoon in the western Pacific and a cyclone in the Indian Ocean.

What is the difference between a tropical storm watch, tropical storm warning, hurricane watch and hurricane warning?

The National Hurricane Center in Miami has the responsibility for monitoring and issuing watches and warnings in the Atlantic and Northeast basins.

A tropical storm watch is issued when tropical storm conditions, including winds of 39-73 mph, pose a possible threat to a specified coastal area within 48 hours, and a warning when tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours or less.

A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 48 hours, and a warning when a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher is expected in a specified coastal area in 36 hours or less.

If a warning or watch is issued, visitors should begin preliminary preparations for potential landfall and stay tuned to radio and TV for official weather and evacuation updates.

With that said, really make sure to pay attention to the weather and timing of your trip. Even if the weather doesn’t seem severe, sometimes flights can be rerouted or delayed. However, do not worry or get stressed out. It is a great time to travel and you will find the best deals. I actually got married in Mexico, in August, with no problems and beautiful weather—no wind or rain in sight.  

The odds are in your favor, and just keep these few tips in mind before you plan your next adventure:

Travel Smart

That starts with packing—check out my post on NOT over packing. Do NOT check a back unless you absolutely have to. Try to pack light. When bad weather hits, this causes many changes with the airlines. If you want to see the new luggage you bought sooner rather than months from now, save it for a road trip.

Choose Travel Insurance

This is more than HIGHLY encouraged—it would be dumb not to consider. While it always seems like just an extra cost for your vacation, please, believe me, it’s not.

Hurricanes, Tornados, Earthquakes, for that matter, are real and unpredictable. Would you buy a new Mercedes Benz without insurance, hoping no one hits you driving off the lot? Same thing applies here, and travel insurance is so inexpensive that the percent you pay vs. the cost of the trip makes it even an easier choice.

AIG even has a quick pack-and-go plan for as little as $20.

Note: Not all insurance plans cover hurricanes and severe weather, so if that is something you really want, make sure you choose that specific plan. There are multiple providers out there. We cannot tell what Mother Nature has in store so please spend the extra bucks. You will thank me later.

Last thing on travel insurance: Travel insurance protects your investment and cuts the hassle out of re-booking flights and dealing with other missed benefits related to your special trip.

I live in Florida and Hurricane Irma left no prisoners. It was scary and there were thousands of people, including tourists left stranded not knowing how they would get home, how they would contact friends and family, and how they would recover destroyed belongings. Look for features such as Trip Interruption and purchase the same day you book your trip. This is important because some benefits are lost if you don’t.  

Download a Weather App On Your Phone

There are several out there. A list of my favorites:

  • RadarScope

  • Dark Sky

  • AccuWeather

  • The Weather Channel

  • WeatherPro, which is great for continental travel

You can also check the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Choose Alternate Options

Think about other options in the Caribbean. In the travel industry, we call these options the ABC’s. So, if you are ready to tackle hurricane season and still want to head somewhere warm, try Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, which are in the southern part of the hurricane belt and rarely see any hurricanes. Another option is to go on a cruise instead of fly. The cruise lines adjust their itineraries at the sign of bad weather.

Be Prepared

Educate yourself. The same thing applies to any trip. Let your friends and families know where you are going and make a copy of all your important documents.

As far as the hurricane, usually the problem is not the ACTUAL storm itself; the problem is more the damage it causes, like the flooding and storm surge. Make sure you know the resort’s policies and evacuation plan. They are great about taking care of their guests in any situation. They usually have backup generators, supplies of the necessities, and are ready to take you to safety if they cannot withstand the storm.

Travel Tip: Bring some cash, if you are indeed traveling during hurricane season and it actually hits with a loss of power, there will be no access to ATMs and credit card processors.

Manage Your Expectations & Relax

2017 has been a crazy hurricane season, and it could get even crazier because it is not over, however, if it rains, there are plenty of onsite activities sure to put your trip back on track.

Hubby & I went to the Caribbean in August in the midst of bad weather. Not going to lie, we got there and it rained all evening, but the bar was still packed. We just carried our umbrella and did not let it put a damper on our first day there. The resorts had trolleys going around so we could get to and from without getting wet as well. The next day, it was amazing. You could not tell a storm hit the previous day. Hurricane season does not mean it rains and it’s dark every day. It was hot and humid, for sure, but clear and sunny skies and some of the best pics were all still there.

One Perk About Traveling During Hurricane Season: The beaches will not be crowded!

Enjoy your vacation! Worst comes to worst, re-schedule; it gives you another reason to take a trip at a later date and enjoy the days you already scheduled off. Besides, you did get travel insurance (wink wink), so like my friends in Jamaica say, no problem, mon!

Courtnie
xoxo

BONUS Info:

  • According to Skyscanner (one of my favorite sites to look up flights), the most canceled flights during Hurricane season happen in June.

Top Five U.S. Cities Most Vulnerable to Hurricanes:

  1. New Orleans

  2. Key West, FL

  3. Miami, FL

  4. Tampa, FL

  5. Cape Hatteras, NC

Courtnie Nichols

TravelBash, 14260 West Newberry Road #325, Newberry, FL, 32669