When planning a vacation, most people do everything in their power to avoid inclement weather, especially hurricanes. But even the best laid plans can be upset by the unexpected. We experienced this recently in Cabo San Lucas when we went from beautiful weather to full hurricane in 24 hours.
Hurricane and typhoons can occur any time of year, which proves to be challenging when trying to plan a vacation. So here are some tips you can use to minimize the impact unforeseen weather can have on your vacation.
Consider your travel dates and destination
You can minimize the chances of having bad weather impact your vacation. If you don't want to deal with snow or possible blizzards, don't travel to those areas that are likely to get snow during the winter months. Instead of going to New England, Canada, Scandinavian countries, etc. you might consider heading south to Florida, Hawaii, the Caribbean, or even south of the equator where the southern hemisphere is experiencing summer during our winter.
If you want to avoid hurricanes, consider avoiding hurricane-prone areas (the Gulf Coast of the United States, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean) during hurricane season (June 1st through November 30th).
Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance does more than cover your financial investment in the event that you cancel your trip. Insurance provides additional coverages like trip interruption, trip delay, lost or delayed baggage, emergency medical, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.
If a hurricane hits your vacation destination while you are there, you might receive benefits under trip interruption or trip delay. During our recent Cabo experience, my daughter had trip interruption (the airline cancelled her flight) and I had trip delay (my flight was so delayed that I missed my connection). All of our extra expenses were covered by travel insurance.
Register your trip with the US State Department
It may seem like overkill to register a simple trip to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean. However, if a tourist area is decimated by a hurricane, it is helpful to the local embassies if they know in advance how many of their citizens that they need to account for after a natural disaster.
I would also recommend leaving a copy of your itinerary behind with family and/or a trusted friend.
Once on vacation, how to deal with a hurricane
Once you are at your destination if a tropical storm or hurricane hits, here are some basic tips to follow:
After the hurricane passes
As soon as you can, check in with friends/family back home to let them know you are safe. If you registered your trip with the US State Department, try to contact the local US embassy as well to let them know where you are and how you are doing.
Once the storm passes, how quickly your vacation returns to normal will depend on the storm's severity and the amount of damage at your resort. In Cabo San Lucas, there was little or no damage at our resort. They were able to resume "business as usual" within 24 hours, and everyone vacationed like nothing had ever happened. Of course, had it been a much stronger storm and the resort had experienced significant damage, they may have had to relocate guests to other properties.
If you experience a hurricane, or strong storm, while on vacation and it interferes with your travel plans, keep good notes and all receipts to substantiate any travel insurance claim that you may need to file once you get home.
By the time our daughter was 15 years old she finally caught onto what we'd been doing since she was about 5 years old ... educating her while we were on vacations. The summer after she turned 15 we took her on a 14 night cruise through the Panama Canal. We insisted that she be up at 5:00 AM on the day we entered the canal (letting her go back to sleep after we went through the first set of locks). Her complaint was a simple one: "why do I have to learn anything? I'm not missing any school for this cruise." My answer? "Because we're paying for you to be on this cruise." Since she couldn't afford to reimburse us for her share of the cruise, she grudgingly gave in.
The irony was that in the following school year she had to do a 10 page report and in-class presentation in World History. The topic she drew? Yup. The Panama Canal. At that point she regretted not going to any of the onboard seminars with the Panama Canal expert (she did end up emailing her with questions, a lot).
We have always been firm believers of making vacations fun, interesting, and educational. I blame my parents, who were both teachers. It also helped that when my parents took our daughter on summer RV road trips there was always an element of education involved. My mom had our daughter journaling every day they traveled (dictating before she could write); working on basic English skills, grammar, spelling, sentence structure, writing descriptive prose, etc. (my mom was an English major after all). There was also art and photography lessons involved.
Fun, but Educational
It's not too hard to figure out really. A trip to Carlsbad Caverns could turn into a lesson about geology. A stop a The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, would be steeped in history about the war with Mexico and how Texas became a state. Even trips to Disney World can be educational, learning about animals at Animal Kingdom, or about different countries at EPCOT. Disney also offers a range of behind the scenes tours that have elements of education hidden throughout.
People have varying opinions about animals kept in captivity (i.e. zoos, Sea World, aquariums, etc.). Your personal views will determine if you visit these places for educational reasons. One of my nephews, while visiting my parents during the summer, volunteered at a bird sanctuary. He's now studying Marine Biology in college.
Education does not simply mean reading text books and taking tests. When planning your family vacations, focus on what is not covered in school these days, as well as reinforcing what is covered. Sciences, history, social sciences, languages, music and the arts can all be addressed during vacation. You can also find ways to reinforce math and English skills.
Doing a road trip? Map reading is a fundamental skill that you can teach your kids, along with reinforcing math skills (determining how many miles left to your next stop, figuring out how long it'll take to get there based on the average speed driven, etc.).
Depending on your kids' ages, have them research the states or countries you'll be visiting, and let them participate in researching and planning where you'll go, what you'll do and see. You can also spur their interest about places you'll visit by having them read books based on the area. For example, if you were planning a trip to Prince Edward Island in Canada, you might have your child read Anne of Green Gables (if it is age appropriate). If you were visiting Monterey and Salinas in central California, books written by John Steinbeck might be appropriate.
Education can be personal history as well. Did a grandfather or great-grandfather land at Normandy in WWII? Did you have an ancestor tried in the Salem Witch Trials? Or an ancestor that immigrated to the United States from Europe? Vacations can be customized around your personal family history.
Education never has to be boring!
Many travelers are oblivious to how easy it is to break into their luggage, without leaving any evidence of a break-in. Here is a brief video that demonstrates how easy it is to breach your luggage – to steal valuables, or worse, to plant something nefarious.
Disturbing, isn’t it? So the standard zippers and locks (as demonstrated in the video) really just keeps out the honest people. If someone is determined to break into your luggage, it can be done, without you ever knowing that it happened.
So what is a traveler to do? To prevent theft, I strongly recommend never packing valuables or letting luggage containing valuables out of your site for even a nanosecond. To prevent having something PUT IN your luggage, again you need to keep your luggage in your possession and line of sight at all times (don’t turn your back or close your eyes for a few minutes).
The best thing that you can do is to get new luggage. Our personal preference is hard sided structured luggage with no zippers. But in researching luggage recently, it appears that no-zipper structured luggage is becoming harder to find. A viable option is zippered luggage with integrated locks (pictures below). With integrated locks it is still possible to break into luggage, but not undetected (as show in the video with standard zippers & lock).
Here are some other luggage related tips that we’ve collected over the years:
Never advertise your home address on or inside the luggage. Either use your destination address or a work address on luggage tags.
Leave the valuables at home (jewelry, tablets, laptops, etc.). If you don’t absolutely NEED it on your trip, leave it at home.
Don’t use expensive looking luggage, but do use structurally sound and sturdy luggage.
Put a copy of your itinerary and contact information inside your luggage (in case it gets lost). Again, do not give your home address or phone number for contact information.
Photograph the contents of your luggage, and keep receipts of anything of value (in the event that you have to file an insurance claim).
At Ships 'N' Trips Travel we have been providing memorable travel experiences for our clients since 2005.