Severe Weather Doesn't Have To Cost You Your Vacation

When it comes to canceling a trip altogether due to the weather, hotels and airlines try to be accommodating. Hotels generally allow cancellation 72 hours in advance with no penalty but may allow you to cancel closer to your arrival date if a major storm is predicted.

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Most Marriott hotels, for example, allow cancellation until 6 p.m. the day of arrival, with the exception of some of the chain's resorts.

Airlines will typically allow you to change your plans free of charge in extreme circumstances, as when a hurricane is declared headed for your destination.

But can you get your money back once the vacation has already begun and you find yourself stuck in your hotel room instead of lounging on the beach? That depends, to a large extent, on how severe the weather is and where you are staying.

During Hurricane Wilma last year, Club Med had to evacuate its Cancun guests, flying them home early and issuing credits to be used at a later date. In Florida, however, Club Med guests spent the storm indoors — eating, drinking and taking part in activities — and also received credits good for another stay at the resort.

A Hyatt spokesman says common sense, not a sweeping policy, dictates how the resort chain accommodates guests who cut their trip short.

Travel insurance policies are generally cheap but not all cover every likely occurrence. Make sure you get trip cancellation and interruption coverage up to the amount you're spending and read the policy to see what events are included. Most cover inclement weather that causes air, land and sea travel to be canceled or delayed and will reimburse you for expenses you incur from a missed flight and the like.

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