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The allure of the Caribbean is a siren song few of us can resist: miles and miles of pure, soft, white sand, with the most gorgeous clear blue waters you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Each day has the most perfect weather imaginable: a light breeze, full sun, and the mercury hovering the 80s. It’s no surprise the Caribbean is one of the top vacation spots for travelers each year, but one of the downsides is it’s an area that gets hit by hurricanes from the beginning of June to the end of November. Not only does it get hit by hurricanes, but the Caribbean is an area right in the middle of one of the world’s most active hurricane belts, which can turn paradise vacations south in an awful hurry — that is, of course, if you don’t know the right ways to plan ahead.

Stock Up On Travel Insurance

Most of the time, investing in travel insurance seems a bit like a scam: you pay a big-name company money you’d rather spend on souvenirs, go on vacation and have a blast, and end up not using your travel insurance at all. At the end of the day, insurance companies rake in money hand over fist and you seem to have not benefitted from it at all.

Except when you travel during hurricane season, it’s 10 times more important to get travel insurance because the unexpected can — and will — happen. The last thing you want happen is for your hard-earned money to go even more down the tubes, such as if a hurricane hits the resort you’re staying at and causes serious damage. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have to cut your trip short and go again. But if you get travel insurance, particularly with a trip cancellation clause, you’ll be able to receive full compensation so your vacation will only be postponed, not canceled entirely.

Plan Your Destination Accordingly

Just because the Caribbean is a hotspot for hurricanes doesn’t mean all areas get hit equally, so keep this in mind when picking out which area you want to vacation in. Areas along the South American coastline tend to be less frequently affected, giving you a better chance at avoiding messy weather. Another tip to keep in mind is going south in the Caribbean versus north: countries like Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago don’t see as many hurricanes as other countries further north in the Caribbean. It’s not to say that those countries are entirely exempt, but you’re definitely stacking the odds in your favor.

Tell People Where You’re Going

When booking a trip to the Caribbean, it’s awfully tempting to unplug everything and disappear entirely, pretending for a week or two as though the outside world doesn’t exist. But if there’s one thing the movie 127 Hours taught us, it’s that letting people know where you’re going and for how long is always a good thing.

Giving your family a general itinerary of your trip doesn’t have to seem like a hassle, but it’s an excellent resource they’ll have just in case anything doesn’t go according to plan. As well, registering your trip with the American embassy in the Caribbean is another, highly official way of letting people know where you are in the event of an emergency. If the worst happens and a hurricane hits your hotel, the embassy will have your name down as one of the people to rescue and get home right away.

Pack A Little Emergency Kit

All you want to do is throw a bathing suit, towel, and several shirts in your bag for your Caribbean trip, but making a little room for emergency items is a smart idea. You don’t have to necessarily bring enough stuff to last you through a year in a bomb shelter, but extra goodies like a spare supply of cash (in case the power goes out and you can’t use an ATM), batteries, a flashlight (a hand-operated flashlight is also a good idea), an extra cell phone battery, and a list of important phone numbers kept inside a Ziploc bag.

Read the Small Print on Everything

So far, you’re doing really well: you’ve bought travel insurance, notified others of your plans, and packed emergency items that can see you through a couple of rough days. But it’d be awful if a hurricane did hit and you discovered your hotel’s hurricane policy didn’t jibe with your own travel insurance. Take the few minutes required to read over all the details so you can go into your trip with open eyes, and understand that instead of a full refund, you may only get vouchers for the future.

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