The aftermath of Irma

We watch in awe as Mother Nature bares her teeth and discredits the climate change nay-sayers. 

Irma’s clean up will be deceptively quick in some areas and decidedly long-term in others.

What should you do if your travel plans are taking you into a hurricane’s pre-or post path?

First, when travelling to areas that are subject to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, typhoons, rainy seasons, etc. it’s worth researching the region’s seasonality. 

The Caribbean’s hurricane season, for instance, runs from June to the end of November with the peak time being August through October. 

Summer is a great time to travel to the Caribbean for budget-savvy travellers looking for lower costs, low humidity, lesser crowds and usually lovely weather. 

With benefits come some risk, however. 

Any time you prepay for travel services, you have money at risk and you want to make sure that if a future hurricane threatens your trip that you make the best decisions for yourself.

For those of you who have invested in travel insurance or have coverage through your credit cards, be sure to get clear on the “covered risks” of your policy. 

Many times, the weather itself is not enough reason to cancel. The Canadian government must issue a Travel Advisory against any “non-essential” travel to the area you’re travelling to. 

This likely affects those people travelling after the hurricane has passed. You can’t necessarily cancel your trip just because the beach has washed away. The area must be deemed unsafe and uninhabitable, not “messy."

Luckily, there are some products such as Premium Protection with Manulife which offer “cancel for any reason” options which are well worth considering if you choose to travel within inclement weather seasons.

For those of you who travel without cancellation insurance, well, you’re at the whim of the airlines and tour suppliers. 

When your flight is cancelled due to extreme weather, scheduled airlines like AC and Delta would refund your money. However, if you called to cancel your flight in advance, the airlines generally only allow for a free “re-booking window” within a five-to-seven-day period of the hurricane itself. 

If you wanted to delay your travel for a month or more or change destinations all together, then you’d be looking at change fees as well as possible fare increases. 

Air and hotel packages are governed under the tour supplier’s policies. Again, most allow you to delay and/or change destinations but within a narrow time frame. Best you could hope for is a future travel credit valid for travel within a year of issuance.

Cruise lines allow themselves lots of leeway to avoid refunding your prepaid contract. Buried within the small print are clauses that allow them to skip scheduled ports, substitute ports, leave early or late and otherwise adapt to the hurricane’s path. 

With a major change in itinerary, a cruise line may offer a future cruise credit or shipboard credit, but technically they are under no order to do so.

An experienced and professional travel consultant earns his or her reputation in situations such as these. 

Rely on their assistance during the early booking stages of your holiday and benefit from their guidance during “rough seas."


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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