How do you book your holidays? Do you wait till last minute or plan in advance? Perhaps you wait till your children have their school holidays and travel then? Or maybe travel in the cheapest season of the year (for that given country)?
Family Holiday’s to Florida
Well, growing up the latter two applied to my family and many still do for the family-friendly sunshine state of Florida. Due to stricter regulations being set out by schools back in the U.K, it’s making it harder to take children out of school. As a result of this more are opting to vacation during the school holidays. Some schools in the U.K. are penalising parents “fining them” if children miss important curricular events in the academic year.
Some can argue that travel becomes expensive for travelling in these periods, especially as a family. However, one area of the world that actively opportunities this and targets families is the Floridian travel industry. Who encourage families to visit in the Summer 6 week holiday season.
Why? Because it’s a quieter period of the year for the state and travel tends to decline. As it’s hurricane season in Florida. So they open it up to the British market as they know the children are off school then.
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I was quite fortunate as most years growing up, Florida would be a yearly destination of ours, in “hurricane season”. During August 2005 we were coming to the end of our family Florida vacation. Until we’d heard on CNN reports of a category 4 hurricane. Obviously, as we sat around watching the news we were interested but incredibly relaxed.
“It was the ignorant case of oh no, it doesn’t matter to us though we’ll be back in the U.K.“
Little did we know how rapidly this hurricane was picking up developing from a depression storm to a hurricane in just 4 days! That evening we got a call through our hotel to inform us the airport had shut down and all flights had been delayed as it was not safe. In anticipation of Hurricane Charley.
Stuck in Orlando
Our airline was clueless on when we’d fly back out. So, as a teenager, I thought this was a little bit nerve-wracking yet exciting as my holiday was going to be extended for a little while. About an hour later that day, after being informed we had a leaflet pushed through our door. This was a leaflet indicating what supplies we had to buy to prepare ourselves and to meet in the lobby for a briefing by the manager.
Around 5:00 pm we met in the lobby and had a general briefing on what to do. Hurricane Charley was due to hit the following evening. We were told what to do in case there were a power cut and the exact actions we should do around the time of the hurricane.
After hearing this my sense of thrill swiftly transformed to fear. I didn’t realise how serious it was until then. When you’re a child/young teenager you have this protective blanket which is your parents and you feel everything is going to be ok. That was me until I witnessed the concern of other adults and a little bit of fear in their faces. That night I slept anxiously awaiting, the monster.
Day of Hurricane Charley
I woke up bright and early the next day. Believe it or not, the sun was smiling at us all glistening in Orlando. We decided as a family to five to make the most of the morning before being sentenced to our rooms. Now, what does one do if you’re a tourist in a place that’s about to encounter a category 4 hurricane?
Play crazy golf,obviously.
So we did, to kill time we played crazy golf for a few hours and had dinner. Then we went to our rooms and waited. I recall the hotel manager informing us there may be a power out and in event of the hurricane to hide in our bathrooms for protection.
You’re probably thinking why bathrooms? Well, the bathrooms in the hotel had just a bathtub, sink and toilet. Inside the actual bathroom itself, there was no window or mirror. So for each guest, if they locked themselves inside, that was the safest place for their protection.
The obedient child I was, was ready to do this. Until my parents questioned why I was in the bathroom for so long. I informed them of the requested instructions. They looked at me like I was stupid and told me to get to bed. Here I was, with my crazy golf-playing family sat in bed awaiting a category 4 hurricane. Perhaps this is where I get my sense of adventure and risk from?
Awaiting Hurricane Charley
Obviously obeying my seniors I sat in bed.
I thought to myself in silence. “I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die.“
I had visions of the windows next to my bed smashing through. What happened next, amazed me. About 9 pm we saw Hurricane Charley come and swerve past our hotel. Sweeping up anything and everything it could. Cars were flipped over, nearby roofs of restaurants collapsed and trees fell over the main road outside our hotel.
Part of I was in shock, as I survived? Yet crazy enough to sit and watch Hurricane Charley as if it was some live tv show from my hotel window? Then, my thrill-seeking mum suggested for us going out on a drive to see what happened. Well, I’d had enough.
I stood up and shouted NO.
Yes, I’d become the dictator. Dictating to my seniors that I’m just recovering from one bout of adrenaline why should I induce myself of another heart attack even more. THIS WAS NOT CRAZY GOLF ANYMORE. After my siblings came to my defence it finally resonated with them.
What we did do was go outside of our bedroom. To look onto the hotel pool. We noticed all of the decking, chairs and furniture was in the pool itself. Mesmerised from the effects. Our daydreaming was cut short as we heard the hotel manager shouting as us to get back in our bedrooms and hide!
Being re-sentenced to our rooms
Why? Because there were 4 tornados immediately following behind Hurricane Charley. Immediately knowing how right I was, I proudly made it clear to my parents about how it was a good idea of mine not going for a drive.
Although the tornados were not as powerful, the damage was severe. We’d noticed the following day how many businesses, restaurants, houses and cars were damaged from Hurricane Charley. It was estimated at around $15 billion of damage occurred however only 15 deaths. According to the new-press when a hurricane is that damaging they don’t use that name again to identify any future hurricanes. Two days following the Hurricane Charley we flew back home.
What I’d advise is don’t be scared to travel to Florida during this season. Whilst there is a higher risk of a hurricane occurring, most hotels and resorts are well equipped in the event of a natural disaster. Just don’t play crazy golf, ignore their instructions or go for a post-hurricane drive.