How to Weather-Proof Your Vacation

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Don’t let the elements damage
your travel plans. Protect your vacation by knowing what to do if storms
threaten.

When bad weather in Boston snowed in Alabama-born writer
JoBeth McDaniel, she had to extend her hotel stay—and had a nasty surprise. “My
hotel tried to charge me three times the rate I'd been paying for the same
room,” she said. Fortunately, she knew that arbitrarily raising rates above the
advertised price—even in weather emergencies—is illegal in that state, so the hotel manager backed down. “He seemed shocked that a
woman with a Southern accent knew about that law,” she said.

Weather gouging—which is illegal in Texas, Florida, California, and many other states—is
one of the potential downsides of a cancelled flight. And of course, thousands
of flights are canceled every year, leading to tens of thousands of travelers
stranded, by snow, ice, summer thunderstorms, and even skies full of Icelandic
volcanic ash.

The best way to prepare for such
an eventuality? Consider well in advance what you would do and what you might
need if your flight was grounded.

First and foremost, always stay
on top of the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. For financial support
in the event of delays and cancellations, consider whether you’ll need travel
insurance (you probably do), and buy it before you leave home. At the airport,
have a carry-on with the essentials you would need if you were stuck in the
terminal overnight. Have your airline’s phone number programmed into your phone
so you can call the reservations center to rebook rather than wait in a very
long line with other confused, clueless, and probably angry passengers.

And you can learn from the
misadventures of fellow travelers. For example, what if your flight is canceled
but others are still taking off? You might try rebooking a creative itinerary
that will skirt the bad weather and allow you to reach your destination, albeit
in a roundabout way. That was the strategy used by Jon Williams, chief technology officer for Flat World Knowledge, a New York textbook
publisher. But he wouldn’t try it again.

“After
my flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale was canceled, I jumped a flight to Dallas, thinking
myself smart, only to be handed a blanket as I arrived in the Dallas airport at
2 a.m.,” he recalls. “Not giving up, I went from gate to gate and found a
flight just leaving for Orlando.
I arrived there around 4 a.m. and ended up sleeping for two hours in the
airport terminal. I finally got to Fort Lauderdale, but the entire awful
experience lasted 16 hours.”

Maybe
the best piece of advice is to maintain a friendly, positive attitude. If
nothing else, it may keep your spirits up. Besides, says Williams, there’s no
practical alternative. “Don’t get mad,” he says. “It doesn’t help.”

How to Weather-Proof Your Vacation

Don’t let the elements damage
your travel plans. Protect your vacation by knowing what to do if storms
threaten.

When bad weather in Boston snowed in Alabama-born writer
JoBeth McDaniel, she had to extend her hotel stay—and had a nasty surprise. “My
hotel tried to charge me three times the rate I'd been paying for the same
room,” she said. Fortunately, she knew that arbitrarily raising rates above the
advertised price—even in weather emergencies—is illegal in that state, so the hotel manager backed down. “He seemed shocked that a
woman with a Southern accent knew about that law,” she said.

Weather gouging—which is illegal in Texas, Florida, California, and many other states—is
one of the potential downsides of a cancelled flight. And of course, thousands
of flights are canceled every year, leading to tens of thousands of travelers
stranded, by snow, ice, summer thunderstorms, and even skies full of Icelandic
volcanic ash.

The best way to prepare for such
an eventuality? Consider well in advance what you would do and what you might
need if your flight was grounded.

First and foremost, always stay
on top of the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. For financial support
in the event of delays and cancellations, consider whether you’ll need travel
insurance (you probably do), and buy it before you leave home. At the airport,
have a carry-on with the essentials you would need if you were stuck in the
terminal overnight. Have your airline’s phone number programmed into your phone
so you can call the reservations center to rebook rather than wait in a very
long line with other confused, clueless, and probably angry passengers.

And you can learn from the
misadventures of fellow travelers. For example, what if your flight is canceled
but others are still taking off? You might try rebooking a creative itinerary
that will skirt the bad weather and allow you to reach your destination, albeit
in a roundabout way. That was the strategy used by Jon Williams, chief technology officer for Flat World Knowledge, a New York textbook
publisher. But he wouldn’t try it again.

“After
my flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale was canceled, I jumped a flight to Dallas, thinking
myself smart, only to be handed a blanket as I arrived in the Dallas airport at
2 a.m.,” he recalls. “Not giving up, I went from gate to gate and found a
flight just leaving for Orlando.
I arrived there around 4 a.m. and ended up sleeping for two hours in the
airport terminal. I finally got to Fort Lauderdale, but the entire awful
experience lasted 16 hours.”

Maybe
the best piece of advice is to maintain a friendly, positive attitude. If
nothing else, it may keep your spirits up. Besides, says Williams, there’s no
practical alternative. “Don’t get mad,” he says. “It doesn’t help.”

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How to Weather-Proof Your Vacation

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