Video: Travel tips to hurricane-proof your vacation

  1. Closed captioning of: Travel tips to hurricane-proof your vacation

    >>> all the weather may be out of your hands, with some careful planning you can make sure your dream vacation doesn't turn into a stormy nightmare. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> this is the peak season where most people are effected.

    >> we're snack dab in the middle of it. the regions effected are the caribbe caribbean , the gulf coast , the south and middle of the united states .

    >> everyone you like to vacation.

    >> as we saw in irene, it can get up the coast.

    >> we saw the subway systems affected here, amtrak. a lot of things can be impacted in hurricane season .

    >> i mean, i was flying out to maine. my flight was canceled. last train on the amtrak. people couldn't get to the airports even if they had flights because the roads.

    >> reporter: flooded. you have to be careful in whatever it is that you're going to be doing and really plan ahead. that's what we're trying to do.

    >> planes, trains, and automobiles. let's talk about some of the tips you have. the first thing seems to obvious but it's probably the first thing we overlook. checking the weather repeatedly.

    >> i think it's important if you're going to take advantage of the great prices that there are for the season in the caribbean , for example, to be vigilant with the weather when it's coming up to your trip. the ways to do that, first of all, the national weather service has an incredible hurricane website called you can go there to check on the updates on storms we have. katia coming up. for specific storms in the caribbean you can go to that's the first step.

    >> next step, buy insurance early. it's not a new phenomenon but one people are appreciating more.

    >> we all think of health insurance and we forget about trip insurance. if you take a risky trip, insure your trip. it's a fraction of the cost of your trip. what you can go do is go to you can do comparison shopping. one important thing when you're thinking about buying trip insurance is to buy it early enough.

    >> better rate?

    >> no, it's more important than that. if you don't buy it before the hurricane that's going to affect your trip is on the hurricane maps, you don't get coverage. the coverage is contingent on that.

    >> you also say look into the airlines' hurricane policy. i thought acts of good nature could never be protected by an airline.

    >> this is the thing with airlines because they see how many people get inconvenienced and how many people's plans are effected, they waive a lot of their change penalties. for example, the american airlines did that. jetblue in my case when i was flying out last week was willing to waive their fees and, in fact, returned the first portion of my fee for the flight.

    >> nice.

    >> however, that was great. they didn't get in touch with me to tell me my flight was canceled. another moment where you need to be vigilant.

    >> check in with your hotel to find out their policy. i mad friends heading out to maine during hurricane your marine and their hotel is basically, like, you're out of luck.

    >> interesting, some hotels have to close, that's all they can do. however, in bermuda, all the hotels in their association have a policy where it's a hurricane guarantee. if there's a hurricane anywhere within 200 miles of bermuda within three days of your trip they will refund your money. if you're stuck there during a hurricane they won't charge you for room or food or beverage.

    >> choose a destination outside the hurricane belt . that's a tough one because you get great deal it is you travel during a hurricane season .

    >> think about aruba, think about the south, the west of the country, san diego , there are lots of other opportunities. also, if you have caribbean on your mind and you will not give up, think about a cruise. that's another alternative.

    >> why?

    >> because if cruise lines see there's a hurricane coming in their itinerary they can change ports. you take a lot of the pressure off you to be vigilant and let the cruise line bs vigilant for you.

    >> nice advice. all right. now we can go on a vacation and not worry about the next tropical storm or hurricane . thank you very much. thanks.

Image: Solé on the Ocean
Courtesy of Solé on the Ocean
Solé on the Ocean, just north of Miami Beach, offers guests a perk or discount whenever a storm is named, such as a waived resort fee, a free room upgrade or 30 percent off the room rate.
updated 9/7/2011 10:19:04 AM ET 2011-09-07T14:19:04

When Hurricane Wilma — the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, with maximum wind speeds of 175 mph — cut a swath of destruction across Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula in October 2005, thousands of travelers in the region’s popular Caribbean-coast resorts were left terrified and stranded.

Slideshow: How to have a hurricane-proof vacation

Although the Mexican government, tourism authority, and local business owners all mobilized to help travelers cope, remembering Wilma’s devastation — and seeing headlines about Hurricane Irene — has been enough to make some travelers think twice about visiting hurricane-prone destinations.

In the news: Evacuations begin in N.C. as Hurricane Irene strengthens

Peak hurricane season, which runs between August and October in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. south Atlantic coast, is certainly nothing to take lightly. And this year’s season may see a fair bit of storm activity: according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there’s a 70 percent chance that in the next few months 14 to 19 storms, with winds of at least 39 mph, will be generated. Seven to 10 of these storms may be hurricanes, with winds of 74 mph.

Still, the lure of these warm-weather destinations, especially during the off-season, can be hard to resist. Crowds are thin, prices are excellent, perks — like free meals and spa treatments — are numerous, and very often, the weather winds up being perfectly fine (if slightly more humid than in high-season months). So, the question is: are there ways to “hurricane-proof” a vacation — to minimize the chances that a storm will ruin a low-season trip to the tropics?

Indeed there are — although most of the tricks for lessening hurricane risks require some research on the traveler’s part. There are websites devoted to tracking local weather patterns, for example. And booking accommodations and flights with companies that offer hurricane guarantees (most often in the form of penalty-free rebooking) is a good way to safeguard a vacation; so is shopping around for and purchasing traveler’s insurance (the further in advance, the better).

Other “hurricane-proofing” methods are less obvious, but can be just as helpful for ensuring a tropical holiday. Many travelers don’t know that booking a cruise, for instance — or vacationing at one of a handful of Caribbean resort areas and islands that fall outside common storm paths (like Bonaire and the San Blas Islands) — can make a big difference in hurricane risk.

While these strategies may not be foolproof, they can go a long way toward protecting travelers' tropical vacation plans (and, worst-case scenario, the travelers themselves). There may not be any way to control the weather, but there are plenty of ways to maximize security — and the likelihood that a dream vacation won’t become a nightmare.

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