Hurricane season: To travel, or not to travel?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Ah, June!  School's out and for many families it's time to plan those summertime vacations.  Those plans usually coincide with hurricane season, which only heats up as we head further into summer.  So is it worth the risk to book a Caribbean vacation or trip to Disney world?

Statistically speaking, the odds of your travel overlapping with a land falling hurricane are slim.  Let's think of it this way.  We're expecting 9-15 named storms this season, which spans six months.  Then factor in the peak of the season, which doesn't occur until September.  Most storms will form between the months of August and October.

Let's say your summertime plans are taking place in August.  Of the summer months, this is the most likely time frame for hurricane formation.  If we end up at the upper end of 15 storms predicted, it's likely we'd see an estimated 3-4 named storms that month.

Sounds like a lot, but remember that most of the life of a hurricane will be spent well offshore.  The odds that a particular storm will hit where you're vacationing while you're there are actually quite small.

But if the worst happens, and a hurricane or tropical storm is forecast to hit your vacation destination, you've got a lot of recourse.  Airlines, hotels and cruise lines are all pretty flexible when it comes to these storms.

Airlines will allow you to reschedule or give you a refund, generally in the form of a travel voucher.

Hotels will generally accept cancellations at least 24 hours in advance.  The situation becomes a bit more challenging if you're using travel sites rather than booking directly through the hotel, but if the storm is so bad the hotel is forced to close, you'll receive a refund no matter how you paid for the room.

It's likely you won't have to cancel with a cruise line.  Generally, they will simply switch the itinerary, often swapping a Western Caribbean cruise for a more Eastern route, or vice versa.

If possible, pay for your trip with a credit card.  If there's a dispute, credit card companies can work out the dispute and credit the amount back to your account.

Storm tracks during the month are likely to take storms into the Caribbean or even Florida, so if that's where you're headed, it's particularly worth watching the weather starting the week or so before your trip.