Wondering where to travel during hurricane season? Or if it’s safe to do so?
Booking your travel during hurricane season doesn’t have to be a stormy vacation IF you’re prepared for it.
However, choosing to travel during hurricane season can brew a whole new storm of questions – and there are definitely arguments for and against. Let’s take a look at what the Pros and Cons of traveling during hurricane season might be.
When is Hurricane Season?
“Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.” ~Diane Ackerman.
Hurricane Season generally starts in early June and runs until the end of November each year, but hurricanes occur more frequently from early August through late October.
Whether or not you are limited to taking your vacation during this hurricane season, it’s good to know the advantages and disadvantages of booking your trip during that time.
Understanding Storms & Hurricanes
There are different storm levels to pay attention to when you’re preparing for your trip:
- Tropical Depression: With maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
- Tropical Storm: With maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34 to 63 knots).
- Hurricane: With maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher.
While Tropical Depressions are frequent and many become Tropical Storms, only a handful each year strengthen into vacation-ending Hurricanes. The wind and rain from storms can definitely put a damper on your beach or pool time (of course there’s always the Spa, shopping, museums, and curling up with a great book), but hurricanes can also leave you stranded, so you’ll want to watch the weather closely.
Savings Vs. Cost
Most all-inclusive resorts in hurricane-prone areas offer significant savings for stays during hurricane season, and many offer ‘hurricane guarantees‘ that waive any cancellation penalties if your trip gets cancelled by a hurricane, or a reimbursement of some amount if your trip gets cut short by one. (BUT they won’t cover your airfare, you’ll need Check Pricestravel insurance for that.)
- PRO: You’ll almost certainly save significant money by booking during hurricane season, which is considered “off-peak” or “low season”, and therefore cheaper.
- CON: If there are added travel delays due to a storm causing you to get stuck somewhere on the way home, then you may have to fork out extra money on flight change fees and layover hotels, and experience long delays on the way home. (Note: if your departure from your resort is delayed due to a hurricane, most resorts will not charge you for the extra nights.)
Choosing Your Location
Most Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones are all Tropical storms, the difference is where they form. Most hurricanes or tropical storms that impact North America occur in the mid-Atlantic Ocean in an area called the “hurricane belt”, and those that occur in the Pacific (in which case they’re called ‘Typhoons’) take place in the western Pacific closer to Asia, so sticking to all-inclusive resorts along the western coast of Mexico (such as Puerto Vallarta) and the Baja Peninsula (such as Los Cabos) will reduce your risk of a hurricane ruining your vacation plans, although nothing will eliminate the risk entirely. Weather doesn’t play by any rules, and our climate is changing which means weather patterns will change too.
- PRO: The Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos areas rarely experience major storms… that doesn’t mean they will never happen, just that your odds of avoiding one are better.
- CON: Just because you have avoided a storm, you could still be subject to travel delays arising from nearby affected areas or backups at airports impacted by severe weather such as tropical storms and hurricanes.
That doesn’t mean you should completely rule out the Cancun/Riviera Maya area of Mexico or the rest of the Caribbean (in fact, Curacao is outside of the Hurricane Belt and so is a great choice to avoid hurricanes), but the risk is higher on the Atlantic side, so consulting weather forecasts prior to travel is critical.
Avoid Hurricanes – Try Curacao
While the risk of hurricane happening during your vacation may be slim, it can happen. It just makes sense to protect your vacation investment. Check PricesTrip insurance (aka travel insurance) comes in many different flavors (policies) and does add to your cost, but if the worst happens it can save you thousands of dollars that you might otherwise lose if your trip is interrupted or must be cancelled. Traveling without it is like rolling dice…..eventually you’ll roll a bad number.
- PRO: Choose a travel insurance policy that covers hurricane-related trip interruptions, and you should be fully reimbursed if the worst happens.
- CON: The small print. If the storm was predicted when you originally booked your vacation, then it might not be covered – so check, and check again that fine print.
Tips for Traveling During Hurricane Season
If you do decide to travel during hurricane season, then treat it with common sense.
- Choose that Check Pricestravel insurance policy wisely, be sure to read the fine print and ask questions.
- Download a decent weather app to your smartphone, such as MyRadar for iOS or for Android.
- Airlines will generally waive their usual change fees if you want to leave early before a storm hits, or have to leave late because your flight has been cancelled. Your Airline’s website is the best place for updates and assistance.
- Consider downloading your airline’s official App to your smartphone so you can stay on top of last-minute flight changes and cancellations, most make it simple to change flights if you need to.
- Setup a severe weather alert with Google or with Weather.com or Weather.gov
- Check with the resort you’ll be staying at to find out what policies and procedures they have in place in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm:
- How will they ensure guests’ safety?
- Do they have generators on the property?
- Do they historically board up the resort – or take guests to an evacuation center?
- How will they assist in the event of an evacuation?
- Also consider your location – if you’re staying on Isla Mujeres, ferry service can shut down so plan ahead! Staff will advise you of your options on site.
- Resorts offer distress rates – IF your flight is cancelled – check with your travel agent or your hotel for distress rates.
- Consider booking at a hotel close to the airport for the night before you fly home, in case roads get closed or weather is too severe for transportation to be running.
- Don’t underestimate the value of working with a good travel agent – they’ll know how to get your trip re-booked or refunded if it gets cancelled by a storm, or how to help get you home quickly and safely if one occurs during your trip.