Hurricanes & Travel: What You Need to Know

With most of our customers living on the Gulf coast, we’re often asked about Hurricanes and how they might impact a customer’s vacation plans. With another storm threatening our area, we thought this might be a great time to address these questions and how to best protect your vacation from the impact of tropical storms.


One of the downsides to the internet and modern technology is that anyone can be a “reporter” and unfortunately this often leads to incorrect information being shared. We recommend getting storm information directly from the National Hurricane Center. It’s also good to understand the differences between “Watches” and “Warnings.” The easy way to remember: A “watch” means we’re “watching” for the storm – time to prepare! A “Warning” means that the impact is imminent – take shelter. These are frequently mixed up and it is important to understand the difference and what to do in each case. The Hurricane center’s website has many valuable resources for storm preparation and information. It is also advisable to monitor local news, although we suggest sources like TV stations and radio news outlets over community newspapers, blogs or websites. Your city or town’s website may also have advisories issued by your local government.


One of the most asked questions we get is, “Should I purchase travel insurance?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no — each vacation is unique and there are many factors that might cause a person to accept or deny insurance coverage. Premier Custom Travel always recommends that our clients read the policy for their particular vacation and make an informed decision based on their needs. We offer many different policies from our various vacation suppliers as well as Allianz Travel Insurance products, and the coverage can vary greatly. But many of these policies do have some form of coverage for inclement weather. If you are traveling during Hurricane season (June 1st through November 30th) we recommend checking to see if your vacation’s insurance policy covers tropical storms. Also, know WHEN to purchase the insurance. With many insurance products, once a storm is officially “named” it is too late to purchase a policy with storm coverage.


Your safety and that of your family and friends is much more important than any money you may have spent on a vacation. If you cannot safely travel to your destination, embarkation port, etc., we strongly recommend staying home. It is better to lose 100% of your vacation than your life or the life of a family member or friend.


Our suppliers also believe safety is paramount and will work to make sure that you are safe while in their care. If a storm is threatening your vacation, many suppliers will take necessary action to protect you.

For example, cruise lines will alter their itineraries to avoid areas where a storm may hit. In some cases, they spend an extra day at sea, while in other scenarios they may sail to an alternate port. When this happens, most lines will offer some form of compensation to passengers or in some cases where the beginning of the cruise is delayed or canceled, they may allow customers to reschedule their vacation without penalty. The Premier Custom Travel staff has sailed on a voyage where a storm in the Gulf of Mexico impacted our cruise. Basically we sailed around the storm and shifted our arrival and departure times from Mexico to compensate. We’ve had customers who were scheduled for one port and were instead sent to another to avoid a storm, and in some cases we have had cruises that were shortened or extended by a day to allow for a storm to pass the ship’s home port. In all cases, the cruise lines worked with our customers to make sure they were compensated, happy and most of all, safe.

Airlines often issue “exceptions” during bad weather if they anticipate having to cancel flights. These exceptions allow ticketed passengers to re-arrange their travel plans without penalty or change fees. Keep in mind that even if your flight is to and from cities that are not in the path of the storm, they still may be canceled or delayed.

While many travel companies will work with you if a hurricane impacts your vacation plans, it is not guaranteed that they will do so and this is yet another reason to consider travel protection insurance. Since your delay is weather related, airlines and most other travel companies are not obligated to give you a refund or even make changes, although many will work with you. For example, airlines are not obligated to offer you a hotel room if a flight is canceled due to weather, but many travel protection plans will reimburse you for this expense if an overnight stay is required.


Yes, you’re reading an agent’s blog so you probably already know this, but a reputable travel consultant will explain all the options to you and help you make an informed decision. While this article gives you the basics of what happens to travel during a storm, it is important to remember that Premier Custom Travel represents about 50 different cruise lines and hundreds of travel suppliers. Each has a different set of policies regarding storms and it is extremely important to know those specifics when purchasing your vacation. Our certified travel consultants will work with you to make sure you understand the options available to you for a particular vacation package. And remember, our services are free in most cases. Why wouldn’t you want an expert to assist you, especially when it comes to something this complicated and important.