What should you do if you’re traveling during a hurricane?

The Pacific Ocean pounds the coast line fronting million-dollar homes in Del Mar, Calif.
The Pacific Ocean pounds the coast line fronting million-dollar homes in Del Mar, Calif. | Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press

Back in September 2019, I went on a trip to Disney World with a group of friends. Much to our surprise, a few days into the trip we learned about a hurricane alert for the area we were in. We weren’t sure what to do to prepare or to protect ourselves.

Luckily, we received an email from our airline letting us know we could reschedule our return flight for free. But what if we hadn’t received that email? What can tourists do if they find themselves vacationing in a hurricane-prone area?

What to do if a hurricane is about to hit the area I traveled to?

The most important thing to do is to try and evacuate the area. Call the airline you are flying with and try getting a spot on the next flight home. If the airline doesn’t have spots available, you may want to consider buying a ticket with a different company. It is important to try leaving the area days before the storm hits, otherwise you may be trapped in the area, per The New York Times.

It is also important to ask the hotel you are staying at if it is possible to come back, in case your flight gets canceled or your plans fall through. If you are staying in a hotel by the beach, try finding new accommodations, since the chances of flooding are greater near the ocean, Tim Horner, an expert on safety during natural disasters, told the The New York Times.

What if you are already constrained in a hurricane area?

Make sure to have a flashlight, batteries, blankets, water, and food on hand. Properties in areas prone to hurricanes often provide those items to guests. If that’s not the case, you can try buying your own at grocery and supply stores, Christine Sarkis, deputy executive editor of SmarterTravel, told The New York Times.

It is important to be in contact with loved ones and even your employer to let them know where you are. Try to communicate with them and keep them updated as much as possible. You should keep your phone charged and carry a portable power charger, Horner told The New York Times.

Have your bag packed and ready to go, since you never know when you will have to be moved to another area. But in the midst of it all, remember to pack books, card games and other distractions. “Being occupied with something fun can help keep you calm when a storm is happening and will make the time go by faster,” Sarkis told The New York Times.

How safe is it to be in a hotel during a hurricane?

If you are going to stay in a hotel, it’s important to remember to be in contact with management and informed about what services they will or not provide. CDC recommends preparing a plan with:

  • Emergency supply kit.

  • Locate shelters and different routes to get there, if you are a pet owner you may want to specifically identify pet friendly shelters.

  • Write down emergency phone numbers and have it in easy access places.

  • Emergency food and medicine supply.

  • Separate and have personal documents in hand.

  • Get a full tank of gas for your car.

Can flights leave during hurricane season?

Usually hurricane warnings are synonym of canceled flights, missed connections and a hard time getting out of the affected area. While aircrafts are capable of flying over hurricanes, safety risks are still existent and companies usually prefer to cancel their operations in affected airports.

However airlines have protocols in place, when severe weather happens, they will issue travel waivers to let passengers rebook or cancel flights. Terms may change depending on airlines and airports, so it’s important to keep yourself updated if you have a planned flight, per Simple Flying.

Where shouldn’t you travel during hurricane season?

States near the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico are most likely to be hit by hurricanes. Here is a list of places to avoid during hurricane season according to The Weather Channel:

  • Bermuda.

  • Bahamas.

  • Puerto Rico.

  • U.S. Southeast

According to The Weather Channel not all islands in the Caribbean have the same threat level of hurricane. The ones outside the main hurricane belt (region that experience frequent hurricanes) are safer between June and November.