I love our North Carolina summers that include family vacations to one of our beautiful beaches. Yes, vacations is plural for a reason ~ I simply can’t get enough of the beach and am always hopeful I’ll find myself visiting more than once. Unfortunately, a North Carolina summer also includes hurricane season and when it comes to family vacations, having a few hurricane tips in your back pocket before you leave home can make all the difference if you find yourself in harms way. Sadly, as I type this post we are watching the first storm of 2014 unravel 4th of July weekend for the entire North Carolina coastline, cutting short countless family vacations and leveling a huge blow to the many businesses that live and die by the success of these holiday weekends.
We live a few hours from the coast and in the 9 years I’ve lived here, experience the occasional impact from the outer bands of the storms. We do our best to be ready securing our home and having the necessary supplies just in case. But hurricane tips for family vacations are an entirely different ball game because your safety depends on the policies and procedures of so many others. Growing up my family used to travel to Longboat Key, Florida every other year, spending 2 weeks in the glorious sun soaking up the beauty of the Gulf Coast of Florida. One year we had the misfortune of weathering a tropical storm in our condo and to this day I can remember hovering in the bathroom while the storm hit, the fear of watching the water pour in the condo windows as my Dad attempted to stop it while staying calm for us all, and being stuck on that island for a few days after. I will admit those were the best shelling days ever though! I’m sure my parents never imagined they’d actually get stuck in the storm but just in case this happens to you, here are my hurricane tips for family vacations.
Know Your Weather Cancellation Policy
Depending on what kind of property you are staying in, cancellation policies can vary widely. Major hotels may offer partial discounts or free rooms for a future stay while private rentals by owner may have a simple deposit and refund system in place for certain situations. Because a weather cancellation is a last minute scenario, its key to know what you can, and cannot, recoup from your expenses.
Purchase Travel Insurance
No brainer. If you are going to the beach, any beach, anytime during hurricane season, spend the money to buy the travel insurance available. When you rent a beach house through a site like VRBO.com or a beach rental service for the region, this fee is often included in your rental fees. If the property you are visiting doesn’t offer it, you might reconsider and find another property that does. Another option is to purchase outside travel insurance through a site like Travelguard.com where you’ll find plans for all kind of travel mishaps including hurricanes that might stand in your way.
Airline and Car Rental Policies
Depending on your mode of transportation, you have to work with airline and car rental partners to modify your plans enabling you to successfully evacuate and find your way home. Review policies before you book and look for those that will accommodate a potential change in plans with the most flexibility and least impact on your wallet. You may need to adjust your travel by a few days, completely reschedule your trip with the same itinerary at another time, or in rare instances seek a full or partial refund depending on the impact of the weather that hits the area you plan to attend. r
Follow the Forecast
In the weeks leading up to your vacation, stay in tune with the forecast to know what might be ahead. With so much technology at our hands, its easy to download any of The Weather Channel Apps and add local media apps as well, giving you all the advance notice you need while you enjoy your family vacations.
Listen to the Lifeguard
Even if your destination isn’t in the direct path of a hurricane nearby, the effects of the storm can be felt for hundreds of miles along the coast. From rip currents to rough waters that turn on a dime, its just not worth the risk to head into the water without knowing if it’s safe. Choose beaches with lifeguards that use a flag system that educates swimmers about the state of the water. Not only will it give you that extra protection, it just might save your life.
Evacuate When Asked
You know your in the weeds when personalities from The Weather Channel show up on your beach. While that might seem fun. if you’ve paid attention to nothing else, this is your big flashing neon sign that the area you are in is at risk for getting hit by that hurricane and its time for you to get the heck out of dodge. Before you leave home, visit FEMA’s Ready.Gov site and take a quick course in hurricane evacuation preparedness. Full of tips about evacuation basics, its a great primer for how things will go down should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. Next, visit the website for the town where you’ll be visiting and to educate yourself on local evacuation procedures and note any contact information you might need. Finally, map and print out the evacuation route from your property to make sure you know where to go without any technology at your disposal. An orderly evacuation depends on everyone knowing what to do and that includes all those visitors on family vacations too.
While I hope neither of us every need them, these are my hurricane tips for family vacations. I look forward to our time at the beach all year long. I never imagine it to be anything but full of sunshine and wide open beach, giving us the chance to unplug, unwind, and enjoy each other away from all the presses and distractions at home. I would be heartbroken to lose that time together but wouldn’t risk my family’s safety for anything in the world. Tell me…
Have you ever found your family vacations cut short by a hurricane? What happened and how did you handle it?
For more family travel tips, visit our Family Travel Pinterest Board where you’ll find all kinds of pins from around the web. I’m hopeful your summer family vacations are full of fun in the sun and you don’t need to leave, but it’s always good to know your Plan B. Thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!