Boy can weather create havoc for vacationers. It can be terribly frustrating to be stuck in an airport or to change accommodations during an unforeseen weather event. So what can you do to mitigate some of the frustration and angst thousands of travelers experience each year whether it’s an Icelandic volcano, regional flooding, a hurricane in Mexico or a blizzard in Colorado?
Before You Travel
- Know before you go. Watch the news, check the weather, travel advisories from your airlines, and call your embassy (if you are traveling internationally) to be aware of any event, weather or otherwise, which could impact your trip.
- Keep a paper copy of all important phone numbers: airline and hotel customer service, cruises and car rentals, tour operators, family members, schools, doctors, etc. You never know when you’ll be stranded and the cell phone can’t get a signal or the battery is dead but there will be a phone somewhere. Be ready.
When You Book
- Know the cancellation and rebooking policies of your hotel. In most cases with a major weather event, hotels will refund, cancel or reschedule guests without penalty much like the airlines.
- Find out if the hotel you’re staying in has provisions for guests to stay in the hotel if a weather event hits. If not, what options does it provide? (think hurricane)
- Ask your airline about its policies for helping stranded travelers. Many carriers will voluntarily refund or rebook passengers (at a later date) because it is better to do that than to have thousands of stuck passengers in airports.
- Research if the tour operator and/or charter flight company handles getting you back home in the event of a hurricane OR if you have to return early because a major storm is forecasted for your destination.
- Use a credit card (not a debit card) to pay for your vacation. You can always file a claim with your credit card company for services or goods that you have not received.
Travel insurance is probably a good option for you if you can’t afford to lose the money you have already spent on the vacation. Read the fine print to understand what is included in the coverage. Do your homework and shop around for a policy that meets your specific needs. If you have to cancel your trip, be sure you follow the exact rules of your policy for cancellation.
In the case of the Icelandic volcano, many travelers had not fully acquainted themselves with their insurance policy and are now finding themselves without sufficient cover and out of pocket on some hefty travel expenses.
Let the frustration begin. Sometimes it’s just your good luck that you get stuck at one end of a trip.
- Immediately, get in line AND get on the phone with the airlines’ customer service representatives and start to make reservation inquiries that way. You can probably get through faster and they may also have information more readily available, as well.
- Same is true for hotels. Check immediately if you anticipate needing to extend or cancel a reservation. The more notice that a hotel/travel company has, the more accommodating that they can be.