When we moved to Florida last year I was elated. I’ve always loved the beach and jumped at the chance to live close to it. Perpetual sunshine and palm trees? Sign me up! Then hurricane season comes and I think most people would be lying if they said it didn’t make them question living near the Florida coast.

I still love Florida with all my heart but hurricane evacuation is not easy. I totally understand why a lot of people stay. First of all, the predictions are so flexible you can easily talk yourself into thinking it won’t come your way, it won’t make landfall near you and the pre-storm hysteria will be much ado about nothing. Second, a lot of people have nowhere to go and/or no way to afford to go. Aside from being emotionally draining, evacuating to another town or another state can be expensive. Here are a few ways to keep some of your money and sanity.

1- When friends and family offer help, take it.

If you have a chance at a free place to stay, that will cut out your biggest expense. Multiple nights in a hotel is a huge money sucker. And with it comes charges for parking and room service. Even if you vow not to get room service.. you always do. It’s just so easy.. and tasty.. and easy. And super expensive.

2- If you do need to stay in a hotel..

Get one with some amenities that will help you save money like a fridge and microwave. That way you can buy a carton of milk and take along a few bowls for cereal, you can stash some store-bought or pre-made sandwiches for lunch and you can pop popcorn for a movie night.

It also helps if you can get a hotel that has free breakfast.

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3- Pack snacks, lots of snacks.

You’re going to spend money on food, that’s inevitable. But it’s better and easier to budget for meals only and rely on what affordable snacks you have from the grocery store for everything else. That eliminates spending money every single time you’re hungry during the drive and the time you spend at your destination.

4- Budget and plan for activities to keep your kids entertained.

Packing up and leaving your home and not knowing what condition it will be in when you return is emotional. And sitting around thinking about it only makes it worse. During our hurricane evacuation my kids were so scared about the storm I couldn’t turn on TV coverage without them getting upset. So I tried to get them outside for an activity each day.

Some ideas, if you can afford them, are theme parks, pools, farms, playgrounds, movie theaters and sporting events. Do some research ahead of time to find affordable activities in the area or ask friends and family who live there. Also, keep your eyes peeled for freebies. We snagged free tickets to a MLB game during our evacuation.

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5- Acknowledge that spending is emotional. And give yourself a break for it.

Your kids may be freaked out and you will want to make things easier on them. This can really mess with your head each time they ask for that stuffed animal in the store or that candy bar in the gas station. My personal advice is to let them have a little more than you usually would. I will spend a few more dollars for a new cuddly friend or a calming sensory toy. Given the circumstances, it’s worth it.

6- Plan ahead with a hurricane fund.

If you’re really good at adulting (much better than me) plan way ahead of time and save money in a hurricane fund to cover travel, hotel, meals and other spending when you have to leave. If you do this I would love to hear about it in the comments below. You will be my new spirit animal.

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2 comments on “How To Not Go Broke.. Or Insane.. While Evacuating From A Monster Hurricane”

  1. Excellent post! We are Floridians, as well, and went through Irma. We couch-surfed with friends and spent one night at a hotel and were overall very fortunate. When a hurricane is imminent, I also usually get the kids a new toy. It is nice to have something new and fun to pull out in a stressful time. Hope you made it through okay!

    • I’m so glad to hear you do that as well. I was feeling a little guilty about buying them things but it did lighten the mood and give them a happy focus object. So glad your family did well through Irma, as ours did.

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