The situation has changed quite a bit over the weekend so I wanted to put a little update out there.
As of today (Monday, March 16, 2020), travel for recreation and leisure is not advised and social distancing is the new norm.
Over the weekend I ended up canceling all my trips for the next two months, a girl’s trip to Arizona, Coachella, and a Southern California trip. Rob and I have big plans for going abroad this year starting in May, and while we haven’t canceled anything for that yet, we have made some contingency plans.
Let’s talk about cancelations
Canceling your trip is going to suck no matter what, it’s made worse when you can’t get a refund so you spend the money without getting the benefit. Luckily many airlines, hotels, and accommodations are making it easy for customers to change, cancel, or postpone reservations.
Here’s a quick look at some of the major brand’s policies:
American Airlines: (For US Travel)The change fee will be waived if you bought your flight before March 15, 2020, and are supposed to be traveling between March 1st and April 30, 2020. You can also cancel your ticket and rebook for a later date, but you must rebook by December 31, 2020, or within a year of the original travel date. For international travel see their website.
United: (For US Travel): The change fee will be waived if you bought your ticket before March 2, 2020, and you are supposed to be traveling between March 9th and April 30, 2020. New tickets must be reissued by December 31, 2020, or within 12 months of the original ticket. For international travel see their website.
Delta: The change fee will be waived for all flights in March and April 2020. Rebooked flights must be booked by December 31, 2020. For international travel see their website.
Alaska: The change and cancellation fee will be waived for all tickets bought before March 31, 2020. Your rebooked ticket must be booked by February 28, 2021. For more info see their website.
Southwest: There is no change or cancelation fee, but should you cancel there is no refund, those funds will become credits towards future travel. Those funds are valid for up to one year from the original purchase date. For more info see their website.
British Airways: You may cancel your booking for flights between March 13 and May 31, 2020, and receive a voucher for the ticket amount that can be used for later travel, but the voucher must be redeemed within 12 months of the original ticket. For more info see their website.
Air BNB: Any reservation made on or before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates between March 14 and April 14, 2020, will receive a full refund as long as cancelation is made before the check-in date. For more info see their website.
Hilton: Change fees will be waived and/or full refunds offered for government-issued travel restricted areas. Any stay with a check-in date before April 30, 2020, can be changed or cancel with no fee up to 24 hours before scheduled check-in. For more info see their website.
Mariott: All current reservations up to April 30, 2020, can be changed or canceled with no fees up to 24 hours before check-in. For more info see their website.
I know canceling or postponing trips is a bummer, but we have to think about our own communities at home and the communities we affect when we travel to them. Let’s do our best to keep everyone safe and healthy.
We are living in a weird and uncertain time right now guys. And it seems a little strange to be promoting travel while we’ve all quarantined ourselves in our homes, but I know I have several trips planned for the upcoming months and I’m sure some of you guys do too. So what do we do?
Let’s keep in mind, the situation with Coronavirus is changing daily, even hourly so what I say here might not be relevant very soon, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. What do you do if you have a trip planned for next week? Next month? How should we plan for our trips in this time of uncertainty?
I’m not going to have any hard and fast answers for you, all I have is my own experience and what I’ve logically concluded from the reports on the news and the internet.
I think it’s all going to come down to risk assessment.
Where are you going to be going, what are you going to be doing, and what’s the population there like.
If you are going to be camping or backpacking out in the backcountry, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of risks there. There aren’t many people around, therefore you won’t be touching something like a door handle that a thousand people have touched, so the risk for contracting and spreading the virus seems pretty minimal.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are traveling to a big city like New York or San Francisco, those are huge population areas, and the risk of coming into contact with the virus will be much higher, as is the probability of spreading the virus. In highly populated areas you are more likely to come into contact with other people just through every day things like riding public transportation, public buildings, and crowded public spaces. There is also the issue that the things you’ve come to do and see, such as museums, concerts, plays, etc, might all be shut down due to public health and safety.
Consider every possibility
When it comes to risk assessment you need to consider you destination and your activities, but also your own health and the health of the people around you. Are you going to be traveling with kids, elderly people, someone who’s pregnant, or has an autoimmune disease? I’m 32 years old and fairly healthy so the consequences of the virus are not bad for me, but just because it won’t affect me terribly doesn’t mean I want to have any part in it’s spread to more vulnerable populations. You shouldn’t be thinking about just yourself, this is a worldwide problem and we need to be thinking about our communities and the world as a whole.
That all being said, I still want to live my life. The idea of sitting in my house for two weeks while I feel fine sounds excruciating (although part of me is like “I could read so many books!”). All situations and trips are going to be different so just be sure you evaluate all the possible risks and rewards.
How to prepare for your trip, should you decide to go
If you are still planning on going on your trip there are a few things that should be taken into consideration.
First of all, be honest with yourself should you actually be going? Then, also realize your trip might have to be canceled due to an Italy type lockdown situation. It’s a real possibility and you should take that into account.
What to do
- Make sure all flights and accommodations are refundable or at least easily changeable.
- Get yourself some travel insurance. After looking into it, most travel insurances aren’t going to do jack if your trip is canceled due to coronavirus, but RoamRight does have a policy for cancellations of any kind so they are probably your best bet.
- If you can, drive rather than fly, it’ll keep you out of airports and planes filled with other people and germs.
- Keep up to date with what the CDC is saying, pay attention to travel bans and highly affected areas, and remember to sanitize everything!
So just remember, I’m not saying you should travel or shouldn’t travel, all I’m saying is to be aware, informed, and make the best decision for you, based on that knowledge. Stay healthy out there friends.
PS You don’t need to hoard toilet paper, for realz, stop the madness.