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7 tips for traveling during hurricane season.
The winds blow and the rains come hard, but there are some great deals out there for travelers who are willing to take their chances with the less predictable weather that September and October can bring.
Still, if ever there is a time to be prepared, hurricane season is it. We asked some smart travel agents for tips on traveling when the weather is iffy, and here's what they suggested.
1. Don't let it stop you
Hurricane season runs from June through November, but weather is unpredictable and the chances of a storm hitting where you are on the exact date you are traveling are very low. If the airline or cruise ship cancels, you will get a refund; if the area is considered unsafe, you will have the option to cancel.
Cruise lines adjust the stops and route if they see a storm might hit the area.
2. Consider a cruise
There are great deals on cruises — and indeed, you might be better off at sea than on land. If you are cruising, and a hurricane is looming, they have fair warning, with the weather technology available, and can easily outrun the storms and head out to sea. It's often preferred over having someone stuck on land.
Another piece of advice: Pick a destination that is less likely to be hit. It's a big globe out there. If you are concerned about storms, consider Hawaii, Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao.
3. Get the right travel insurance
There are many types of policies, and each involves different amounts of risk. Some pay travelers in cash and some in future travel credits; some pay only if the trip is canceled by the supplier or if a storm is named, not if the traveler is just afraid to go because a storm is headed their way. I encourage my clients to purchase a good 'Cancel for ANY Reason' policy. Also consider that while a travel agent can explain and suggest which insurance to choose, the traveler is the one buying the insurance. They need to follow up by reading the fine print and making sure they understand what is covered and what is not.
4. Go with the flow
Be prepared for change and do not let it ruin your trip. On a cruise, for example, the captain will make changes based on safety. These will vary by trip. His job is to keep the passengers and crew safe.
If you are cruising, take a look at some other ports that aren't in your current itinerary, just in case your ship gets rerouted, That way, you will have an idea about what to do in other destinations.
5. Factor in buffer travel time
Consider ways in which a possible hurricane might affect your trip. Travel out a day or two in advance in order to give yourself more buffer time, especially since you have some dealing with tornadoes or big storms near home while also worrying about hurricanes during the trip. Leave an extra day or two at the end of the trip, as well. You don't want the most important business event of your life or a daughter's wedding to be missed because you are delayed.
6. Take some extra items
Be prepared for an additional travel day or two by bringing extra clothes and medication in case you get delayed flying home. Also keep your iPad, phone charger, medication and other essentials in your carry-on if you are changing planes on a bad-weather day, lest you and your checked bag become separated. If you are traveling with a companion or a child, put one or two outfits of each person's clothing in each checked bag, so you both have something to wear if one bag gets lost.
7. Choose travel providers with extra clout
A well-connected travel agent and a reputable hotel company can make a big difference in how a traveler is treated. The better the resort, the more that is done to care for the clients.
If you’re reading this, you’re either engaged (Yay, super exciting) or dreaming of your wedding day. As a travel agent, I work with brides and grooms to help them select the best venue for their destination wedding. The resorts can vary greatly and knowing some differences in advance can help you narrow down the ideal location with ease. I’ll use my recent Riviera Maya site visits of the El Dorado Miroma, Ed Dorado Seaside Suites, Hard Rock and Unico 20º87º.
A few tips, if you’re thinking of a destination wedding, the beauty is that there are many packages to choose from, the smallest of which is usually complimentary with a certain number of paying rooms. There are typically complimentary rooms nights that the bride and groom can use for themselves, family and friends, or as a credit on the overall wedding cost. These can keep your wedding expense much lower than a traditional wedding. Also, because there is the cost of travel, attendees are usually those who really want to be there, so the numbers will likely be smaller than with a traditional wedding. That said, destination weddings could get as large as 200+, and many properties offer cash for your bash that increases with the size and scope of your wedding.
Some key considerations to help you narrow down the when and where for your destination wedding:
Will children be invited? This a BIG question as some people won’t want to travel without their children, but others will enjoy the vibe that an adults-only property can bring. Some, hotels offer two spaces, one that is adults only and one that is for families, giving you the best of both worlds. But knowing whether or not you want children present helps your travel agent focus on the right property for you.
This pertains both to your wedding costs as well as the overall cost of travel for your guests. Knowing what the family members who you really want at your wedding can afford is something to consider. There is a property for every price range, but the important thing is to find the best property for you first, and then your travel agent can negotiate the best rates and perks.
Number of people?
Most properties can handle weddings as small as 2 people to more than 200. It really just depends on what you are wanting. That said, there are fewer properties that can handle really large groups, so knowing size in advance is key.
Type of bride
A destination wedding can be difficult for brides who have a difficult time visualizing space or who want to be involved and control everything. However, a few hotels have developed ways to help even the pickiest of brides be more hands on, even from far away. One property will even let you visit for a weekend and set everything up for you so that you can see exactly how the smallest details will look on your special day.
With some properties, working long distance, and sometimes with a bit of a language barrier, can be trying. I work as your advocate with the property, making sure your big day is exactly what you dreamed. I also handle logistics such as flights, transfers and group dining taking those details off of your plate so that you can focus on the wedding details.
Time of year
Weather is always a concern with a destination wedding, so being aware of hurricane season and how that impacts your choice of destinations is key. If you do want to get married during hurricane season, a cruise ship wedding may be a great option.
Catholic wedding ceremony
If your heart is set on a church wedding, or specifically a catholic ceremony, there are definitely properties that can make this dream come true. The El Dorado Miroma and the Hard Rock Riveria Maya both have churches just for this purpose.
Is a cruise ship wedding for you?
The beauty of a cruise ship wedding is that it really does give you many, many options for venues, budgets and styles. For instance, you can get married before the ship departs in a US port, simplifying marriage licenses, you can get married on the ship during a day at sea, or you can get married off ship at many of the ports of call. Check out my pinterest board for fun cruise ship wedding ideas.
The biggest recommendation I can make is to have an advocate, such as your travel agent, who has relationships with the properties and vendors and who can work on your behalf to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Agents can secure group flights and hotels, often with just a deposit and final payment a few months before the fun event, which gives your travelers time to plan and save. I also like to be onsite to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Also, check out my 10 Tips to have a Destination wedding.
If you’re thinking about a destination wedding, let’s talk. Email email@example.com, or text 916.692.9550.
Last year about this time, I was taking two high school young ladies to Nicaragua. Our mission was to see a bit of the country and participate in a week of sea turtle rescue with SOSNicaragua.
We spent seven days in a remote part of the country called Padre Ramos Estuary, a few hours north of Leon.
We learned about the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and this new population they discovered living in this mangrove estuary. We weren’t alone, as the group included about 14 travelers, a biologist from Fremont, a young family from Berkeley, a turtle-lover from Hawaii. The young man, the organization’s CEO, who lived in humble circumstances to try to save this sea turtle, humbled me.
We were able to release little sea-turtle hatchlings into the ocean, surf down the side of an active volcano, eat street food, and basically enjoy a country that was poor and struggling, but peaceful and kind.
The sea-turtle trip wasn’t my first to Nicaragua. A few years prior my daughter and I traveled in Granada and San Juan Del Sur to explore yoga retreats along the pacific coast and one in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We had drivers, mostly because I’m too old to ride in a chicken bus, but we had a wonderful and safe time.
Today my friends in Nicaragua who I follow on Facebook are showing photos of people being killed in the streets of Leon and Granada by government soldiers who work under the directive of President Daniel Ortega. The citizens are mostly college students who are peacefully protesting Ortega’s efforts to increase taxes. One was a baby. The government is shooting young people who are peacefully protesting.
All of this reminds me of the fragility of peace. Today, instead of taking US students to learn about sea turtles and witness the work that a handful of humble biologists are doing to protect them, we have to wait until things calm down. Could be months, or maybe years. The organization relies on tourism to fund its future activities. Tourism helps them to buy things that make recovering and protecting the nests easier. I worry about whether this will impact their efforts. I worry about their safety and I watch my Facebook feed with a sad heart.
Today, more than ever, I encourage all of you to travel and experience a different culture. Granted, go someplace without so much conflict, but meet other people. See how they live. Understand their country and lives so that when things like this occur, it’s not just a blip on the news, it’s something that we can view and respond to with context. And pray for peace. Do whatever you can to ensure our world is safer in whatever small way you can.
Let's embrace new cultures, learn new things and see where we'd like to venture next.