Don't Let a Hurricane Ruin Your Vacation

VIDEO: Hurricane Vaction Tips

Hurricane Earl isn't just threatening East Coast beaches with its high winds and strong downpours. The hurricane could also ruin thousands of people's vacations.

The storm has already ripped through the Caribbean with winds up to 135 miles per hour and it now threatens to disrupt everything from beach getaways to flights along the Atlantic coast.

And on the high seas, Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have already changed some ships' itineraries to steer clear of the storm's path.

If you are planning to take a vacation anytime before hurricane season ends on Nov. 30, there are a few steps you can take now to make sure that Mother Nature doesn't ruin your trip.

Karen Schaler, author of the book Travel Therapy, notes that with 8 to 14 named storms predicted for this year, "it's going to be a dicey season."

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But, for those with a bit higher tolerance for risk and flexibility it can be a great time to travel and there are plenty of deals to be found.

"You can save as much as 75 percent, and for budget travelers that is key," Schaler said. Hotels are far from sold out and are cutting rates to fill rooms. "It's like you have the resort to yourself."

Just don't plan that honeymoon or special celebration for this time. The best trips during hurricane season are those where travelers can be flexible.

Not all destinations are the same. Generally, travelling to southern Caribbean islands instead of the northern ones means you are less likely to be hit by a hurricane.

The Dow Jones Island Index says that Curacao is the least likely island to be hit along with Barbados, Grenada, Aruba and Bonaire.

But it's not just the Caribbean that you have to worry about. The National Hurricane Center says the chance of getting hit by a hurricane in Miami, based on the 100 year data, is actually higher than anywhere in the Caribbean.

"But remember that Mother Nature can do whatever she wants to," Schaler said.

Hurricane Trip Insurance

So what about trip insurance?

Anne Banas, executive editor of travel Web site SmarterTravel said that if you do buy insurance, make sure it specifically includes hurricane coverage.

"Also, note that many policies state that you have to purchase it before the storm is predicted, and many only supply coverage once the hurricane actually hits and causes your airline or hotel to shut down for 24 hours," Banas said. "The best advice is to read the fine print to make sure you know what you're getting into, or purchase insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason -- including trip delay, interruption, and cancellation -- even though it might be a little more expensive."

Basically, if the storm is already named, you are way too late to purchase insurance. The hurricane then is clearly not an "unforeseen event."

The costs for travel insurance runs 5 to 8 percent of a trip's prepaid non-refundable cost on average. The cost can vary slightly depending on the length of the trip, age of the travelers and the travel destination.

Another option, Banas said, is to look for travel providers -- such as resorts -- that offer hurricane refund or guarantee policies, though be aware that you won't be covered for things like missed or rebooked flights.

Anne Banas, executive editor of travel Web site SmarterTravel said that if you do buy insurance, make sure it specifically includes hurricane coverage.

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