Winter is one of the most tricky seasons for traveling. Every year we hear lots of stories about cancelled flights and stranded passengers. A few years ago, I was one of the many who were left hanging when a snowstorm shut down all NYC airports. Our carefully planned European vacation was delayed by three days and we had a very stressful time deciding what to do. If you ever find yourself in that situation I hope you can learn from our experience.
Weather happens – it is nobody’s fault.
As soon as I saw the snow coming down hard on the day of departure, I was in a frantic mood. We should have left a couple of days before, I kept saying to my husband trying to lay the blame for our hindered plans on him. It is sad when your much planned vacation plans go awry but don’t look for anyone to blame. You’re all in together so try to be extra kind to your family. Kids will look to their parents on how to react. Acknowledge the disappointment but stay upbeat to keep their spirits up.
Be rational when going ahead
As eager as you will be to get back on the road or plane, safety should be your number one concern. It may be worth it to wait and extra day if it means that roads will be cleaner and airports will be less crowded. This will also give you a buffer incase the weather doesn’t improve as expected.
Minimize the financial damage from delays
Weather inflicted changes happen so often that you should consider the advantage of purchasing travel insurance. TMOM’s recent Twitter party was dedicated to talking about the pros of travel insurance during winter travel. Make sure you know the cancellation policies for all travel related services (hotel, rental car, tours etc). Have all the contact numbers at hand so you can notify them immediately. Even at a higher price, a service with flexible cancellation policy maybe worth it in a high risk travel season.
Have a back up plan
Have an idea of what you can do at home if your travels get postponed. Stock the kitchen with some frozen or dry goods in anticipation and have a list of local activities you can do. When we missed our flight to Barcelona, my husband quickly made a list of things we could do locally. We went on a horse drawn carriage ride at a nearby farm and I felt the sting of our travel mishap melt away. Now we make it a habit to have a list of fun, local activities that serve us immensely whenever our regular plans fall though.
Make the most of your time
It is always difficult to decide if you should take a shortened trip or cancel all together. From my experience, it has always been good to take a shorter trip if makes sense financially. Don’t think about the lost days but focus on the time that you do have in a new city and make lasting memories.