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Publication: Travel Tips
Surviving hurricane vacations.

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Tips & Adice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

Aug. 21, 2007

Hurricane Dean roared through the Caribbean this weekend, 
killing at least nine people and picking up speed as it 
headed toward Cancun, Mexico.

On Monday, roughly 100,000 tourists were evacuated from the 
area. Thousands who missed the last flights out were 
preparing to weather the storm in Mexican shelters.

If they didn't understand before, it's now clear why most of 
them got such a great bargain on their vacation packages.

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From June 1 through November 30, great deals are available 
for travelers to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Mexican 
Peninsula, Florida and Gulf Coast tourist areas. You can 
find discounts between 40 and 70 percent for oceanfront 

It's no secret why. This is hurricane season, and these are 
all hurricane-prone locations. 

For the most part, I recommend vacationers take the deals. 
The odds are in your favor that a hurricane won't hit your 
particular vacation spot during your particular vacation 
time. Once there, you have out-of-season prices, empty 
beaches, no waiting list for spa appointments, and easy 
restaurant reservations.

But, as thousands of travelers are finding out as you read 
this, the risk is always there.

In October, 2005, for example, more than 30,000 vacationers 
in the Cancún area were stranded when Hurricane Wilma hit. 
Cancún International Airport was shut for nine days. Hotels 
were damaged and lost electricity.

Last year was a pretty typical hurricane season. The area 
averages about six per year.

This summer, however, is shaping up to be an especially 
active year, with forecasters predicting up to 10 storms.

What should storm-season travelers do? Here are some tips:

* Pay attention

Yes, you're on vacation, but you can't afford to completely 
ignore the outside world. Watch local television news 
programs, check in with The Weather Channel, or surf the 
Internet for weather updates. Pay attention to which storms 
are on the horizon and may become potential problems.

Also, keep an eye on what the locals around you are doing. 
Do folks seem apprehensive? Are lines at grocery stores and 
pharmacies getting longer while the shelves get emptier? Do 
people look like they’re bracing for a storm? If so, chat 
with the desk clerks, bartenders, housekeepers; anyone you 
would normally exchange pleasantries with during your stay. 

* Don't get high

Yes, Jamaica's in the hurricane zone, but I'm not talking 
about ganja. 

I'm referring to your location.

Steer clear of mountainous or hilly destinations, where rain 
can trigger landslides and flood valley floors, Dennis 
Feltgen, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center
Recently told MSNBC.

The Dominican Republic, for example, has four mountain 
ranges, which means this island is particularly vulnerable 
to major flooding and mudslides during an active hurricane 

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* Pick a tiny target

The smaller the region you want to visit, the less likely it 
will be hit.

Bermuda, for instance, is just 33 square miles, so the 
chances of a storm ruining your summer vacation here are 
smaller than in larger areas like the Virgin Islands, which 
cover 183 square miles.

* Look for guarantees

In response to customers' concerns — and in an effort to 
increase business during hurricane season — some airlines, 
all-inclusive resorts, and other travel businesses offer a 
hurricane guarantee. Basically, they tell you up front that 
if all or part of your vacation is affected by hurricane 
weather, you won't completely lose out.

Club Med for example, provides guests with a Future Travel 
Certificate in the event that Category One or higher 
hurricane-force winds impact the resort at any time during 
their stay.  

The certificate equals the value of the land portion of 
their vacation for the number of days affected by the 
hurricane-force winds. It must be used within one year of 
the original travel date at these Club Med resorts: 
Caravelle, Guadeloupe; Cancun, Mexico; Ixtapa, Mexico; 
Sandpiper, Florida; Columbus Isle, Bahamas; Turkoise, Turks 
and Caicos; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic or Crested Butte, 

* Look into insurance

Most airlines will change your tickets at no cost if a 
hurricane is eminent. However, you don't want to get caught 
in a dispute about who owes you what, and whether one is 
really headed your way.  

Buying travel insurance can you a lot of headaches over 
ticket changes and trip cancellations when you’re traveling 
in a hurricane zone during storm season. In this situation, 
it’s usually worth the extra cost.

* Get a hard copy

Although airline e-tickets are now the most popular option, 
it may be best to have a paper ticket already in hand to 
flash at officials during a chaotic dash to the airport. At 
least make yourself a printout.

* Buy a beacon

It's kind of James-Bond-meets-Sharper-Image, but travelers 
to shaky areas can now get their own personal locator 

The device, which costs between $500 and $600, sends a 
personalized distress signal to orbiting satellites in case 
of a severe weather disaster.

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* Talk to the kids 

 If you have small children, you may need to talk to them 
about what is happening, and reassure them that everything
will be all right. Keep them close to you at all times.

* Bring extras

Travel with extra prescription medication, if you suffer 
from a panic disorder, you definitely don't want to get 
caught in a hurricane without your Klonipin. You want to 
plan for an extended stay of at least 72 hours, and as much 
as two weeks.

* Go to Wal-Mart

Or the nearest drug store or supermarket. If a hurricane is 
bearing down on you, you need to get basic supplies. 

Each person in your group should have at least a liter of 
drinking water, and 72-two hours of food, clean clothing, 
medications and toiletries.  Pick up flashlights, a portable 
radio, batteries, and a signal whistle for each person. You 
should also buy prepaid calling cards and make sure all cell 
phones are charged up.

* Get cash

You'll need money. Credit cards and debit cards are 
worthless once phone lines go down.

* Check with your hotel

Find out what their disaster plan in. They will definitely 
have one.  They no more want the bad press or the liability 
of someone getting hurt than you want to get hurt.

* Find a buddy

Think like it's summer camp. Operate on a buddy system; no 
one should be left alone.

When you and your family or business associates become 
mobile, make sure everyone agrees how you're going to 
communicate and what you’re going to do if you get 

* Give everyone identification

Each one of your family members or traveling companions 
should have personal identification on them. 

You should each also carry photos of all others in your 

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading. 

Your Tipmeister, 



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