Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

Hurricanes and Travel – What You Should Know

Summer is one of the most active seasons for travelers across the US, and many of them choose to visit popular destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and southern region of the US. Unfortunately, the summer also marks the beginning of the hurricane season in this part of the world, spanning from June 1st to November 30th. 

As we’ve seen in recent years, the development of major hurricanes is now more probable, impacting not only the residents in the affected areas but also any tourist who might be visiting. Should you have the unfortunate experience of visiting a destination that is facing the impact of a hurricane, here are several tips that will help you prepare for it.

1. Keep an eye on the weather news

Thankfully, hurricanes can be predicted with enough precision and lead-time to prepare for them. Keep an eye on each weather report via news stations, weather apps, or newspapers. Is it a major storm – category 3 or more? Is it a tropical storm or a category 1 or 2 hurricane? Consider whether you will be safe at your destination or if it’s prudent to cancel your trip ahead of time to avoid any potential catastrophe. 

I recommend following the National Hurricane Center on Facebook for live updates. You can also download the Hurricane Pro app (paid) to track each weather system development or the Windy app, which provides wind and precipitation forecast (though not explicitly focused on hurricanes).

2. Get Travel Insurance before leaving home

Travel insurance is highly recommended for every trip, but it should be essential when traveling to any destination that can be affected by the hurricane season. Several insurance plans offered by RoamRight come with benefits that may help during hurricane season. I always recommend reading your policy thoroughly before purchasing to know in detail what is covered under these cancellations. It is important to know that once a hurricane or tropical storm is named, it is no longer considered unforeseen and may not be covered by a travel insurance policy. In addition to reading your policy, you can also call the highly-rated RoamRight customer service department at 855-762-6744. 

3. Let people know where you are

Be sure to let friends and family know your exact location, the address, and the current conditions there. Let them know it is possible you might be off-the-grid for a while should the telecommunication system collapse. 

It's also recommended to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program by the US Department of State. It is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest safety and security information for your destination country, and helps the U.S. Embassy, family, and friends get in touch with you in an emergency. 

4. Evaluate how safe your location is

Whether you’re staying with family, a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb, evaluate how safe your location is. Is it a beachfront property? Is it close to a river? Is the area prone to flooding? Is the area prone to landslides? Are you staying in a wooden building? Ask the hotel or your host these questions as they should know how safe the property is. If the answer is yes to any of the previous questions, avoid staying there during the storm.  

If the storm looks severe enough, it is also highly recommended to move to another hotel in the capital city or as close as possible to it, as aid is often received the quickest there. Furthermore, accessibility in the capital city is vital, allowing most services to be restored sooner. Or, should the situation be dire, it will be easier for you to reach an exit point, be it the airport or seaport. 

Additionally, should there be an evacuation order in place, follow it and stay at the designated shelter.

5. Get enough cash before the storm

Should there be a collapse in the power and communications infrastructure, it is highly probable that ATMs will stop working for a while, thus forcing your destination to become a cash economy at least for a few days or weeks. 

Get enough cash a day or two before the storm for food and water, as well as essential transportation. Hotels tend to extend their current guest’s stay for free for a limited time depending on the damage suffered in the country.

6. Don’t stay in your hotel room

If your hotel is in a safe area, it can be wise to stay in your hotel, but not in the hotel room. Most hotel rooms have large glass sliding doors that are often broken during the storm. Hotels tend to have an emergency plan to shelter all guests in their ballroom or windowless event space big enough to accommodate everyone during the critical hours of the storm.

7. Do not rely solely on your hotel supplies

Not every hotel is prepared for a hurricane. Some hotels have power generators and water tanks while others don’t. Some even have enough food stored to feed their guests for days. Should your hotel not have or run out of means to provide these necessities, you will be transferred to another partner hotel (if available), or they will “kick you out” if they don’t have any other choice. Yes, they can kick you out.

Regarding food and power, it is good to not rely solely on the hotel’s resources should they not be fully prepared. Be self-sustainable by purchasing your own bottles of water, enough non-refrigerated food, and a few flashlights and batteries to last a few days to a week. Think like if you’re going camping! Also, do you know anyone at your destination that could serve as your backup shelter?

Additionally, get a small battery powered radio as it does not consume too much energy, and it’s an excellent means to stay up to date with news during and after the hurricane. 

8. Charge all your electronics before the storm

Charge your phone, tablet, camera, and laptop before the storm. It’s probable you’ll be without power for days. If possible, also have an external power bank to serve as a backup.

9. Expect the unexpected

Anything can happen during a hurricane, so have a lot of patience. Know that comfort will be the last thing you should expect during and after the storm, and that should you be there during the aftermath, you must be flexible with your time and plans as it’s possible you might need to extend (or cut) your trip based on the current situation and recovery efforts.

Fun is part of any travel experience, but so is staying protected. Learn more about our policies here!


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About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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