Santa Fe New Mexican
Climate change is coming for your travel plans
Before you book
Check your credit cards for travel-related benefits that will cover weather-related events, and use the one that has the best protection to book your trip, said Sara Rathner, credit card expert at NerdWallet.
Several credit cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer insurance for trips canceled or affected by severe weather. You can also receive reimbursement for costs associated with a trip delayed by weather, such as hotel stays. Otherwise, you’ll pay out of pocket, with no chance at reimbursement. “If an airline cancels due to weather, the hotel cost is on you,” Rathner said.
If you don’t have a credit card that offers good travel protection, consider purchasing travel insurance. “More and more people are purchasing travel insurance due to weather extremes,” said Christine Buggy, vice president of marketing for Travelex Insurance Services.
Typical premiums for comprehensive coverage average about 7 percent of trip cost, Buggy said. But it’s important to read the fine print before you buy. Some travel insurance plans do not cover major
Do your research
Planning is key, says Steve Sintra, regional director of Kayak North America, especially in the case of locales where you are not familiar with weather patterns.
“If you’re looking forward to going to Southeast Asia, you may want to avoid the rainy season in May to October,” Sintra said.
A week before you go
“Travelers really need to be more diligent about getting ahold of good weather forecasts and taking them more seriously,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center.
Weather predictions have become much more accurate, but they can tell you only so much. The forecasts are particularly good at showing when a big hurricane or snowstorm will hit, but other extreme weather events, such as tornadoes, can be more challenging for forecasters and travelers to anticipate.
Temperatures are heating up globally, said Francis, and heat waves are lasting longer. Record heat spread throughout Europe in June, even as wildfires blazed in Catalonia.
These are the kinds of extreme-weather scenarios we’re likely to see more of in the future, Francis said. “It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, you just need to pay attention.”
If you get caught
Make sure you download your airline’s travel app before you go, and sign up for cellphone notifications. But you don’t have to wait for news. Be proactive: If you see a big storm in the forecast, contact the airline immediately to see whether your flight is canceled, and get rescheduled on the next available flight. Do not cancel a flight before your airline does; you will be responsible for whatever fees are associated with changing your ticket.
If the hotels are booked, look on Airbnb, VRBO and other options. Or reach out on your social media channels to people you know in the area.
Once you’ve got a place to stay, review your itinerary and make changes to rest of the trip — such as hotel, car rental, restaurant, and tour or activity reservations — to avoid cancellation charges.
When it comes to travel, Rathner said, “you should always be prepared for things to go wrong, and hope everything goes right.”