AUSTIN, Texas – June 30, 2021 – With an active wildfire season predicted for this year and record demand for vacation homes this summer, Vrbo® is helping families protect their trips by sharing safety alerts and resources.
Historically, wildfires are most likely to happen between May and October. However, experts are predicting another record-breaking year of wildfires that could continue through the end of the year. High levels of drought, strong winds, high heat and low humidity in many areas of the country are creating ideal conditions for wildfires to start or spread.
To help travelers prepare for trips in areas prone to wildfires, Vrbo is adding alerts and safety reminders on the website and mobile app with tips and resources. These alerts appear on search pages and property listings in areas that may be impacted, and within trip details and emails to travelers with bookings in potentially affected areas.
“Wildfires are more difficult to predict compared to other natural disasters like hurricanes, and they’re not always something travelers think about when planning a summer vacation. However, with more demand than ever for vacation homes this summer in areas that may be prone to wildfire activity, families need to plan ahead,” said Melanie Fish, Vrbo’s travel expert. “Before a trip, it’s crucial that travelers understand the cancellation policy for their vacation home and buy the right travel insurance. Because policies can be unique to each property, host, and travel insurance provider, double checking the fine print can help set expectations if a wildfire affects travel plans.”
Here are tips for families booking vacation homes in areas prone to wildfires:
Review the property’s cancellation policy – a property’s cancellation policy is set by the host so, before booking, check the policy and understand that it applies even when reservations are affected by a natural disaster such as wildfires. The most flexible cancellation policy provides a full refund 14 days before a trip. Travelers that need to cancel or make changes to a booking outside of the cancellation policy window need to work with the host.
Consider buying travel insurance – travel insurance can help protect vacation plans and provide peace of mind. When buying travel insurance, review the policy to make sure it provides the right coverage for your needs, such as coverage for natural disasters or weather-related events including wildfires. The broadest policies may cover cancellations for any reason. When filing a claim, make sure to carefully document extra expenses and contact the insurance company as soon as possible
Check for wildfire risk – before booking or traveling to your destination, check the wildfire outlook for the area. The National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) offers a wildfire outlook that provides predictive services up to four months in advance. Additionally, check resources such as the state tourism board, local weather and air-quality forecasts, and news reports for fire alerts in your destination to understand the risk for a wildfire during your stay.
Communicate with the host – always keep an open line of communication with the host. Travelers that have not yet arrived at their destination, or are unsure if it’s safe to travel there, should contact their host for more information regarding their reservation.
Be prepared – when arriving at the vacation home, get to know the property and the area, and make an emergency plan in case weather conditions in the area may lead to wildfire activity. Consider packing and bringing an emergency kit and ask the host about evacuation routes and contingency plans should a wildfire occur. If you do need to evacuate due to a wildfire, try to do so at the earliest opportunity to avoid taking critical resources away from local residents.
Before booking, families should check for travel advisories and restrictions in their vacation destination and always follow health and safety guidance from health officials and local authorities. Visit this help article for more information.
More resources for hosts can be found here.
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