Navigating hurricane season


Safeguard your honeymoon

Precautions for an August or september trip to the Caribbean

When Mr. Smitten and I traveled to Belize last winter, we met two couples who were both visiting the same island resort as us for the second time in six months.

Both pairs (who hadn’t known each other prior to their initial trip to Central America) were newlyweds who had tied the knot on the same day in August 2016 and scheduled their honeymoons for the same days at the same resort. After meeting on their honeymoons, they’d decided to return to Belize together in January 2017.

When we asked them, they enthusiastically said that, yes, they had come back to the island because they had loved it—but also because they wanted to finish their honeymoons, which had been cut short by a hurricane.

Several days into their vacations as newlyweds, Hurricane Earl had unexpectedly developed south of Jamaica and was headed for Belize. This meant that everyone on the island had to be evacuated to the mainland, where the guests were divided up into any remaining resort rooms and vacation homes. The two couples who Mr. Smitten and I met had ended up being paired together to ride out the hurricane, which saturated Belize on August 4, 2016.

(Side note: The hurricane ending up ripping apart a pier, oceanside bar area and several thatch roofs at the resort, but all staff and guests remained safe. However, farther north Earl caused significant flooding in Belize and landslides in Mexico, where the storm later hit and ended up killing more than 45 people.)

The experiences of the two couples we met in Belize are unique in that their evacuations turned into lifelong friendships and simultaneous “second” honeymoons together, but, with the recent (and continuing) destruction of more recent storms in the Caribbean, it’s obvious that honeymooners and other travelers are evacuated every year during hurricane season, which peaks during August and September.

The threat of hurricanes can create understandable uncertainty and anxiety for people vacationing or soon-to-be abroad, which is why it’s important to consider hurricane season when planning a summer or early fall honeymoon to the Hurricane Belt. Taking the following precautions can increase your odds of a safe vacation during hurricane season and reduce the likelihood of having your plans disrupted or canceled due to a massive storm.

Opt for the ABC Islands

There are several Caribbean islands located on the border and outside of the Hurricane Belt. Among these are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, also known as the ABC Islands. While it’s impossible to guarantee these islands (and others on the fringes or outside of the Hurricane Belt) won’t be hit by a hurricane or tropical storm, the probability of having to cancel your honeymoon to one of these islands because of Mother Nature is far less than with some other Caribbean nations during peak hurricane season.

Purchase trip insurance

No matter what time of year you’re traveling, buying trip insurance is always a good idea. Most good policies (the kind offered by travel professionals) not only cover most accidents, illnesses (including pre-existing conditions if purchased within a certain period of booking your trip), baggage protection, travel delays, rental car damage, and more, they also cover trip cancellation for a variety of reasons—including if there is a NOAA hurricane warning issued for your destination. If there is a warning issued prior to your leaving, having trip insurance helps ensure that you’ll be able to recoup money you’ve already spent on your trip, or, if you’ve landed in your location prior to a hurricane warning, help you more easily cover the costs of having to return home early, travel elsewhere to safety, or remain at your location until it’s safe/possible to leave.

Choose an alternate destination

If your honeymoon falls during hurricane season, choosing a hurricane-free zone is one of the easiest ways to eliminate the stress of an unexpected storm uprooting your plans. Plus, you can always plan a subsequent anniversary trip or vacation to a more hurricane-prone area outside of hurricane season. (No travel bucket list is complete with a romantic visit to the Caribbean!)

Regardless, wherever you dream of honeymooning and at whatever time of year, please send a prayer, good vibes, positive thoughts—whatever option speaks to you—to the Caribbean nations in the Hurricane Belt that were affected by Irma last week. Many of these beautiful destinations and their communities depend on tourism and now face great uncertainty in the wake of Irma’s devastation.