According to statistica, in 2017, beach vacations were the most popular type of vacation in the US, with 52% of respondents saying beach vacations are one of their top favorite types. This was followed by all-inclusive vacation packages at 33% and cruises at 30%. Given these numbers, I’m sure everyone has a good plan in the event of a hurricane, right?
It’s always good to be prepared and we are here to help you navigate the waters when a hurricane is threatening your beach vacation. Here are some of the ways to get your plans in place.
This is a tip that should really be done before you book your reservation. Some hotels and vacation rental companies have relatively lenient cancellation policies as where others can be stricter. Cancelling your reservation could be no-hassle, they could cost you the first night’s deposit, the entire cost of the reservation, or somewhere in between. This will also depend on how far out you are cancelling, but as you’ll see later, this decision will probably fall within a week of your vacation.
You don’t have to take on all the risk of traveling. If a cancellation policy is strict, it would be beneficial to buy travel insurance. Many vacation rental companies will offer travel insurance at the time of booking the reservation. If it’s not explicitly mentioned by your reservationist – ask. You can also review your credit card perks or AAA benefits, which can offer some travel insurance perks or discounts. It’s also possible to call your regular car insurance company to add on some travel insurance. Travel insurance is not a no-questions-asked vacation coverage. Most insurances will cover you in unforeseen events which includes illness, death of anybody traveling or a family member, jury duty, and many others – oh, and of course hurricanes. Travel insurance covers you beyond cancellations, too, so review all the benefits next time you travel.
We live in the age of information, so it is easier than ever to stay informed about tropical storms and hurricanes. You might first hear about terrifying risks on your social media, so be sure to pay attention to where the posts are coming from. You want to stay informed through reliable sources. Some of the best sources on a national level include The Weather Channel, the National Weather Service, and NOAA. While all of those give you great information, you can usually get more targeted information by seeking local news outlets (like WMBF) in the area you’re planning your vacation. Local meteorologists live for researching and reporting the most accurate information in the event of disastrous weather. Some local news outlets have Smart TV apps that allow you to watch the local news just like you would at home, and if they don’t their website usually offers similar functionality. Local news outlets are also more likely than national outlets to have information related to if and when evacuations should start. Evacuations are normally issued within a few days to a week of landfall. If your vacation destination is at the point of issuing evacuations – DON’T COME!
If you happen to be on vacation during a hurricane threat, you’ll want to quickly familiarize yourself with evacuation routes to safely get you back home. For example, if you’re vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area, two of the main interstates you’ll hit to evacuate are I-20 and I-95. Obviously, you should expect delays, but knowing a few evacuation routes can help you get out quicker. Since you’ll be sitting in traffic – possibly for hours – it’s a great idea to keep your vehicle fueled up. Depending on how much you drive in the week, it might not hurt to get gas while you’re out every day before heading back to your resort for the evening. Trust me – you don’t want to be stuck needing gas when mandatory evacuations hit. It will slow you down and potentially cost you more.
This list should really be considered for traveling even if there is no threat of a hurricane. You will want some essential survival tools in your car. Keep a first aid kit handy. You can usually find some pre-made first aid kits at big box retailers for $10 to $20. Pack a flashlight. You might want to grab a case of water and some non-perishable food. Remember, you might be sitting in traffic for hours, but you probably won’t even see the storm so no need to stock your car like a doomsday bunker. A portable cell phone charger never hurts to bring on a trip as well, so keep that charged when a hurricane could be in the forecast.
When a hurricane misses your vacation destination, there’s a huge sigh of relief from you and all of the locals in the area. Depending on how far the hurricane missed, you might not even notice there was a risk. Other times, you might have a stormy vacation – at least for a couple of days. There is one thing you’ll want to be very careful of on your beach vacation – the ocean or gulf. Hurricanes don’t need to have an immediate presence to make the water very dangerous. The water can be choppy and there could be a bad rip current. Rip currents are difficult to spot, but you’ll feel it when it happens. Rip currents will pull you out from the shore. Do not swim against a rip current. Swimming against a rip current will get you nowhere and exhaust you. Swim parallel to the shore until you get out of the current and then swim back to the beach.
If a hurricane hits the destination you plan to travel to before your reservation, there are still some things you’ll need to know. Depending on the severity of the hurricane, the area might still be closed to tourists. The government makes the call on when to allow tourists back in. Orders could come from positions as high as the governor of the state, the county, or even the city. This is where local news outlets will be very helpful as well. Because hurricanes drop a lot of rain, flooded roads can be extremely dangerous. Never drive through standing water. You never know how deep the water goes. There might not even be a road under the water anymore.
Check with your hotel, resort, or vacation rental company about the condition of the area and the accommodations you booked. It’s not unheard of for certain areas to be without power for up to a week after a hurricane. Your accommodations might only be operating at partial capacity because of damage to hotel rooms or condo units, not to mention companies might be understaffed due to evacuations or employees needing to tend to damage at their residence.
Condo-World is a vacation rental company that offers beach vacations in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Destin, Panama City Beach, 30A, and Hilton Head. Because of their understanding of beach vacations and the risks hurricanes pose to vacation travelers, most of the information in this article is supplied by Condo-World. If you book your vacation with Condo-World, the localized staff is available to answer any questions you might have about a hurricane threat to your vacation destination.