You booked a tropical vacation months ago, now the weather is looking grim — what should you do?
Bad storms are one of the top reasons why travelers decide to change travel plans. Unfortunately, many travelers this Labor Day weekend will be forced to skip planned vacations as Tropical Storm Hermine bears down on Florida (it could turn into a hurricane by early Friday, according to forecasters.)
So what should travelers do to prevent losing their trip investment? I recently wrote an educational guide on this very topic and learned a lot about the value of being proactive when it comes to trip planning. Here are some tips for travelers…
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Review your trip costs
During the booking process it is important to carefully review all cancelation policies for hotels, airlines, car rentals, excursions and any other possible expenses. This will be a good indicator for how much you are truly invested into a trip and what action you may want to take in order to protect it.
I always tell travelers to ask this question: If you woke up the morning of your trip and were forced to cancel because of a storm, how much money would you lose? This will give you an idea of how much money is at stake.
Know your risks
Some locations are just simply worse than others when it comes to weather risks. There are also better times to travel to certain destinations throughout the year.
For example, the Caribbean is best to avoid from June through November due to hurricane season while the northeast United States is more prone to winter storms from November through February. So, before you book a trip to a particular region, look at weather statistics for that time. You may want to avoid certain months of the year when storms are more likely.
To do some research on destinations and weather patterns, visit The Weather Channel website or BestTimeToGo.com.
Come up with a backup plan
There is a lot of coordination involved when booking a trip, so canceling a vacation can really be a bummer, especially when the traveler has taken days off from work or school. During the trip planning process, it is important to figure out what you’ll do “if” weather puts the brakes on your travel plans. For example, would you go back to work or simply change travel plans and visit a different destination? This will help ease anxiety if you must reconsider your vacation.
Know your rights
Delta recently made headlines for providing $200 travel vouchers for passengers who experienced extensive delays following a system-wide outage in August. However, vouchers are not always a given.
Weather can really cause havoc on airline systems. If you are concerned about flight delays or cancelations, know policies ahead of time on how your airline will likely handle it. You can typically find this information on an airline’s website. Also, social media has been increasingly useful for passenger looking for rebooking tips so feel free to send your airline a tweet to ask for some help.
Consider travel insurance
Travel insurance can be valuable for travelers who are concerned about weather affecting their travel plans. However, there are certain requirements a traveler must meet in order to be eligible for the right policy. For example, it may be too late to purchase hurricane coverage once a storm has already been named.
Clark has written extensively about when to seek travel insurance in his Trip and Travel Insurance Guide.