Sunday, October 05, 2014

What to Do If a Hurricane Threatens Your Vacation

Knowing what to do if a hurricane threatens your vacation is important. A lot of planning goes into creating the perfect getaway and no one wants a hurricane to change those plans. Sometimes it does happen and knowing what to do is vital.

Flooded road, Photo by Gayle Crabtree
I carefully laid out the itinerary when my family wanted to visit the Outer Banks a few years ago. We forgot that it was hurricane season, and when the storm formed, our trip was canceled. It was deja vu when I planned a trip to D.C. the following year. Adjusting dates by a few days made that trip possible.

The first time a hurricane threatened our vacation I was panicky, but my travel agent wasn't. She made helpful suggestions. I've incorporated most of them here and added a few life lessons below. Ready.gov doesn't specifically prepare you for storms when on vacation but is the top resource on storm preparation in general.


Review travel insurance coverage.
Cruises, getaways to major theme parks and other expensive trips often have trip insurance built in as part of the package. The coverage may be your recourse if your vacation has to be canceled or adjusted. Familiarize yourself with the information, make copies and call your travel agent for assistance before the storm hits.

Contact your cruise line and/or destination choice.
Places like Walt Disney World and cruise lines have policies in place to help travelers know what to do if a hurricane threatens their vacation. Generally, they will try to keep their schedule intact if a hurricane threatens but rescheduling may still be worth a try. Call the cruise line immediately if you decide to change your travel plans. Weather conditions change quickly. Monitor the cruise or destination website, stay in contact with your travel agent and follow their instructions and those of local goverment.

Touch base with your airline.
Airlines may allow fee-free rebooking if a hurricane threatens your vacation. Knowledge is power. Contact your airline to ask about policies in advance of the storm.

Things to do if you are already on vacation when a hurricane looms.
 
Create a plan.
If you are already on vacation don't panic. Try to remain calm. Plan for your travel plans to be impacted and work out a plan. Your travel insurance may have a toll-free helpline for this very reason. Give them a call. You may also want to talk with your hotel staff. They might have been through something similar and may be able to help.

Follow local instructions.
Be sure to monitor the local news and follow any directions that you are given by local government. Call the airline immediately if you are advised to leave because of a hurricane. Many carriers will waive fees and some may schedule extra flights to accommodate the recommendations of local government.

Charge your batteries.
Communication when your vacation is threatened by a hurricane is important. Be sure to to fully charge your cell phone, laptop and any other battery operated items.

Visit the ATM.
Hurricanes bring widespread power outages that can render debit or credit cards useless. Visit the ATM in advance of the storm and withdraw the cash that you can. Depending on your daily withdrawal limit and resources, it may be necessary to make a return trip ATM trip the next day - if safe to do so.

Buy snacks.
Food supply may be disrupted after a hurricane. Purchase snacks as soon as you can. Conserve cash by using your credit or debit card to make the purchase.

Phone home.
One of the most things you should do if a hurricane threatens your vacation is touch base with the folks back home. Let them know where you are and update them on your plans. This can alleviate stress and worry for everyone.

Hopefully you will never need the information that is in this article. Most getaways go off without a hitch. However, it is always a good idea to be prepared and know what to do if a hurricane threatens your vacation.