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  Weekly Feature (September 9, 2007)


Hurricane Season and Travel
Paul's Weekly Feature


The latest hurricane in the Caribbean taught us an invaluable lesson about planning to travel during a hurricane season.  My wife, children, and I, had planned to spend several days in and around the city of Tulum, on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. 

We were looking forward to learn about the local people and their culture, visit the famous Mayan Ruins, explore the ecological parks and tropical reserves, and discover the system of underground rivers and caves.  We also wanted to swim and snorkel in the Caribbean Sea.

It was Friday evening, August 17th, only four days before our scheduled departure flight from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, when our travel agent telephoned with the disappointing news.  She warned us that a hurricane, Hurricane Dean, was traveling through the Caribbean along a north-west path in the direction of our planned destination.  The travel agent added that we shouldn’t worry, yet, since hurricanes don’t necessarily stay on one course.

Not sure how to respond to the news or what to do next, we were faced with the blame, the looming uncertainty, and the questions surrounding this vacation.  Who was responsible for coming up with this holiday plan?  Were we told, or should we have known, that the hurricane season included the current month, August?  Would we qualify for a refund if we cancel these travel plans?  Was hurricane travel insurance offered to us, and if it was, then why did we not opt for it?  Should we carry on and travel anyway, hoping that Hurricane Dean will deviate from its direction to the Yucatan Peninsula?  Will we find another time that is convenient for our family members to travel together?

With barely four days left until our departure, we decided to track closely the path and intensity of this hurricane before making any haste decisions about the trip.  We paid close attention to television news, and monitored Internet weather forecast sites that focus on the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico weather.  

With the passing of each day, however, it seemed to make little sense to follow our travel plans.  Hurricane Dean was roaring through the Caribbean Sea, with its powerful winds leaving destruction and havoc on some of the Caribbean Islands.  It continued heading toward the Yucatan Peninsula’s east coast, the coast of our planned vacation.  Furthermore, this hurricane’s speed and intensity were increasing as it traveled along the open parts of the Caribbean Sea. 

On Monday morning, one day before our planned departure, we finally decided not to take any chances and thus canceled our trip.  Our travel agent was quite understanding and helpful, arranging for us to recover nearly all related expenses.  The decision to cancel this holiday was definitely the right one.  Hurricane Dean caused considerable damage once it hit the Yucatan Peninsula’s east coast.

In conclusion, before booking your next vacation, be sure to consider and check all factors which may affect your travels and your planned holiday activities.  And without hesitation, do not choose a time or a travel destination which incorporates a hurricane season!

Check these map sites to locate the mentioned areas and places:

 Lonely Planet: Canada; Mexico; Yucatan Peninsula; Caribbean

Additional helpful map sites: 

Gulf of Mexico (Encarta World Atlas)

Yucatan Peninsula (University of New Brunswick)

Caribbean (Hold, Rinehart and Winston [Mapquest])

Try a quiz on the above reading.  The answer key follows the quiz.


Quiz:  Hurricane Season and Travel

1.  The lesson by Hurricane Dean about travel was

      a. not important.

      b. of little value.

      c. extremely important.

      d. somewhat significant.

2.  The writer and his family wanted to visit the Yucatan Peninsula in order to know more about

      a. the local weather.

      b. the local people and their culture.

      c. the traffic noise level.

      d. a and c.

3.  The travel agent indicated that Hurricane Dean was traveling in a/an

      a. east-west direction.

      b. south-east direction.

      c. north-east direction.

      d. north-west direction.

4.  The family members didn’t know that the hurricane season in the Caribbean includes   

     the month of

      a. September.

      b. January.

      c. August.

      d. May.

5.  The family had purchased hurricane travel insurance.

      a. False.

      b. True.

      c. Not enough information is given.

6.  The hurricane was followed closely through information on the

      a. Internet.

      b. radio.

      c. television.

      d. a and c.

7.  It is mentioned that Hurricane Dean caused destruction and havoc on some of the  Caribbean Islands.  A synonym for the word “havoc” is not

      a. confusion.

      b. disorganization.

      c. chaos.

      d. calm.

8.  The planned trip to Mexico was

      a. canceled.

      b. rescheduled for a later date.

9.  Of particular interest was the hurricane’s heading toward the Yucatan’s Peninsula  _______ coast.

      a. north

      b. south

      c. east

      d. west

10. Hurricane season is the only factor to consider before booking a holiday.

      a. True.

      b. False.













Answers:  1. c.  2. b.  3. d.  4. c.  5. a.  6. d.  7. d.  8. a.  9. c.   10. b.


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