Traveling During Hurricane Season | What You NEED to Know
When you make your travel plans months in advance, you have no way of knowing what the weather is going to be like. That is why many people recommend buying travel insurance. Hurricane season starts May 15th and runs through November 30th. If you decide to take the gamble on insurance and find that the eye of a hurricane is heading right to your destination on the weekend of your trip, you’ll want to read this before traveling during hurricane season:
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Traveling During Hurricane Season
Before You Leave
Traveling During a Hurricane doesn’t stop people from Flying to the Destination
Just because the ominous weather may be heading straight for the destination, that doesn’t mean it will stop people’s travel plans. In the days leading up to both hurricane Irma and Nate, the airplanes were still completely filled. People may have meetings and other functions that they don’t want to miss.
- Check with your auto insurance company to find out what type of insurance you have. Does it cover rental cars? Check with your credit card company to see if they cover any lapse in coverage on rental cars. A lot of time your insurance company will cover the repairs but the rental company will still charge you the whole time the car is being repaired. Travel credit cards will cover the rental period in-between.
Pack the essentials
- Bring all your wet gear. We anticipated that there was going to be rain, and possible flooding. We knew an umbrella wouldn’t cut it. We packed our raincoats and pants. It came in handy.
- Bring your insurance cards with you. This is good practice on any trip.
- Pack your emergency first aid kit and a few non-perishable snacks in case you are stuck for a couple of days.
- Print off anything you might need. Power might be out and digital technology may not work. Make sure you have a printed copy of your airline tickets, car rental agreements, hotel reservations and anything that you might need to get out of town.
- With power outages, assume that credit card terminals may be down and so will ATMS. Bring enough cash to get you through the emergency.
- Have a full charge on all of your electronics. We made sure to have our phone’s fully charged along with our iPad and other electronics. That phone could be your only lifeline. In addition, we also brought with us our portable battery to get a few recharges out of our phones.
Have an exit strategy planned
Know when the hurricane supposed to hit and when is your flight is. We were constantly monitoring when the hurricane was going to make landfall and the category. We anticipated that if the hurricane hit the night before and didn’t cause any major damage, our plane would be able to take off.
- Each airline has different rules and regulations. Generally speaking, if the state declares a ‘State of Emergency’, a Mandatory Evacuation for the area or if the power goes out, the flights will be canceled or delayed. If there is wind and the airline determines that it can still take off, the flight will continue. Check with your local airline for official rules. Before leaving make sure you have a copy of the phone number for your airline.
- Have a Plan B. If your flight is canceled, it could take hours, days or even a week before you can get on another flight out of there. Consider renting a car for the weekend. Our plan was to drive home with the rental if needed. This would require us to change our rental agreement but it would allow us to get home with only a one-day delay in our travel plans. Make sure to check with the rental company before driving it to another location.
- And maybe a plan C. Our plan C was to drive to a different airport and change our flight arrangements. This would be less driving but may have cost the same amount of money as driving home because of the flight changes.
Once You Arrive:
Talk with the hotel and get details when you arrive.
Locals are such a wealth of knowledge. They know the area more than anyone else including when to be concerned. If hurricane force winds are coming your way, you will not want to be anywhere near windows or anything that can break. You will also need to be high enough to avoid any storm surges that may come up. When checking in we asked the following questions:
- Do we need to be concerned?
- The place we stayed, they were not concerned in the least. We were above the flood and they didn’t expect much wind due to the surrounding buildings.
- What’s the plan when the hurricane hits?
- We found out that the city had issued a mandatory curfew for all residents. We were a little concerned as to what that meant for us. We found out later that it applied only to cars driving. People were still allowed out of their houses and in our case the hotel. We stayed within a block of the hotel just in case it picked up.
- Will we need to seek shelter anywhere?
- We were very well protected by the buildings so close together in the quarter that we would be fine.
- Do we need to be concerned?
I can imagine these questions sound a lot like when a Southerner comes north to find that there is a ‘blizzard coming. But it’s better to be safe.
- Even though the hurricane missed NOLA, everything was still closed the next day. The city did such a good job at perpetration that everyone was anticipating being closed the next day. This meant that almost all tourist sites were closed. Because we had until 2pm until we needed to leave for the airport we needed to find something to occupy us. We stopped at one of the tourist information booths. They told us that the only thing that was open was the ZOO! Guess we are heading to the zoo! It turned out great! Check out that trip: Audubon Zoo | A Zoological Aventure in NOLA
- Social media was the best way business were communicating. We found it easier to hit up Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see if businesses were open.
Deciding to travel to a destination when you know a hurricane is coming is incredibly dangerous. Make sure to weigh out the risks before you go. Every situation is different. We were flying in for a wedding and it was a Category One. The area we were staying at was never an evacuation area. It was a completely different story. We knew from experience during Hurricane Katrina that the French Quarter didn’t get much flooding. We got lucky and the storm missed us. Other locations last year, like Marco Island and Houston had a higher intensity storm. Please remember that you are taking a risk anytime you are entering an area like this and Mother Nature is extremely unpredictable. Please be safe traveling during hurricane season!