Hurricanes, powerful storms that form out at sea, are forces not to be reckoned with – but hurricane season doesn’t have to put a damper on your travel plans. While planning ahead is always advised, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to book a trip during hurricane season.
The odds of a hurricane striking during your trip are slim
Hurricanes form in the Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, Western Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean, but the odds of a storm striking during your travels is small, depending on when and where you are staying. In general, September is the most active month for hurricanes and May is the least active, according to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. While hurricanes can occur outside these time periods, the dates encompass the majority of hurricane activity.
- Atlantic Ocean: Hurricane season runs June 1 to November 30 with the highest activity August to October. During these three months, 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of categories 1 and 2 storms on Saffir-Simpson Scale and 96 percent of categories 3, 4 and 5 storms occurring in the region which includes the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.
- Northeast Pacific: Hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30 with storm activity peaking in late August or early September in the area from Mexico to the dateline.
- Northwest Pacific: Hurricanes can occur year-round here, but the most active season runs July 1 to November 30 with storm activity peaking in late August or early September in the area from the dateline to Asia, including the South China Sea.
- South Pacific: Hurricane season runs October 15 to May 15 with storm activity peaking in late February or early March.
- Indian Ocean: Hurricane season runs April 1 to December 31 for the northern Indian Ocean, which includes the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and October 15 to May 31 in the southern region, which includes Africa and the Australian basin.
If you’re trying to figure out how this may affect your chosen destination, consider these statistics from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: Nearly seven hurricanes strike the U.S. every four years (that’s less than 1.75 per year). Forty percent of these hurricanes strike Florida and 85 percent of major hurricanes have hit either Florida or Texas.
Since 1970, hurricanes have made landfall the most in China, Philippines, Japan, Mexico and the United States. Rounding out the top 10 list are Australia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Madagascar and Cuba, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
The weather is often great
Many travelers falsely assume the Caribbean is sweltering or rainy every day of hurricane season, but it’s not. Summer is an excellent time to visit the Caribbean where the temperatures are only a few degrees higher than they are in January. For example, during an average year, the Turks & Caicos have 350 days of sunshine. This misconception traditionally drives hotel room rates lower, sometimes even half-off, during the summer.
If it does rain, there are plenty of things to do indoors
Cruise ships are great rainy day havens with plenty of indoor activities; many offer lectures, casinos, performances and other events to help passengers pass the time in between ports. Don’t miss the chance to linger at the all-day buffets or enjoy a day at the spa. Rainy days are a prime excuse for pampering.
Prefer to stay on land? Book an all-inclusive resort and you can similarly spend your rainy days being entertained indoors with all-you-can-eat buffets, spa treatments, and indoor activities. Finest Resorts in Cancun is an excellent place to unwind, even indoors on rainy days. The expansive resort has 16 restaurants and 12 bars, a palatial spa with a one-hour hydrotherapy circuit included with all treatments, a salon, a gym with trainer-led classes like yoga, a shopping arcade, and daily activities including indoor options like ceviche making class, Spanish classes, tequila and wine tastings, aromatherapy workshop, there’s even a variety of programming for children, pre-teens, and teens, including a children’s only section at the spa and activities like live shows, piñata making, and more.
If you’re not staying at an all-inclusive resort, take a day to indulge at the spa, sleep in, or order room service and dine alfresco from your balcony as you watch the storm roll in.
The beaches aren’t crowded
Most travelers shy away from traveling during hurricane season because they aren’t willing to take the risk of a hurricane making landfall, and many believe the weather is too hot or humid. While it can get a bit stuffy on the beach, you can cool off with an ocean dip and revel in the fact that you will be one of the only people there.
You can get a better deal
Destinations in a region where hurricanes can occur are typically on sale during their hurricane seasons. The standouts are the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and most cruises that sail to or from the Caribbean and southeastern U.S., particularly the cruise ports in Florida.
Airfare is low right now
Airfare prices heading into the summer travel season are at a five-year low. We took the 50 most popular destinations so far this year on Cheapflights.com and compared the average airfares our users found to airfares found for those destinations from January through April of each year for the last five years. 2016 was the hands-down winner with the lowest average fare. Florida and New York are two places where average flight prices have dropped the most, by percentage, versus this time last year, making cruise vacations more affordable for those who have to fly to their cruise departure point.
Florida airports that have seen big average airfare drops this year include: Southwest Florida International (serving Fort Myers and the Florida Gulf) is down 35 percent, Orlando Internationalis down 32 percent, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International is down 32 percent and Miami International is down 25 percent, all mere miles from the beach or cruise ship ports. Airfare is also down 31 percent at LaGuardia, which is a short drive from cruise ship ports to destinations along the eastern coast of the U.S., Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.Search for flights to Florida
It’s low season for cruises
Whether you’re setting sail on a cruise in the Atlantic, the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, or Down Under, take advantage of lower rates during hurricane season. But buyer beware: cruise ship passengers aren’t entitled to compensation should the itinerary change. Be sure to buy shore excursions that are refundable. Cruises that have particularly low rates during hurricane season include those with ports of call in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. If you want less risk, destinations on the southern edge of the Caribbean like Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago rarely experience hurricanes.
You can reschedule your trip
Modern hurricane forecasting allows for greater accuracy in pinpointing areas where a hurricane is expected to make landfall. While it might now be known for sure where a hurricane will strike until a few days or even hours ahead of time, travelers won’t be caught off guard. Travelers can opt to switch their travel dates or change destinations last minute.
If you’re really worried or have bad luck, you can buy travel insurance
Many travelers can benefit from travel insurance and the peace of mind it brings. Travel insurance is not the same as health insurance, so be sure you know what the policy covers. You might already have some insurance coverage and just don’t know about it. Check with your health insurance provider, credit card company or auto club and see what’s covered during travel, and check out our travel insurance tips to make the whole process a breeze.
Take advantage of hurricane season and search for flights for a dream vacay with a chance of savings.
Main image: istockphoto/AleksandarNakic