As we head into the summer season, I bet you had some sweet summer travel plans, I know I did. But with all the uncertainty, what are you supposed to do? Cancel? Postpone? Say ‘screw it’ and take the trip anyway? (that’s a horrible idea, please don’t do that) So what is a travel girl to do?
Here are the short answers:
- If your trip is in the next month? Yeah, you are going to need to cancel or postpone.
- If your trip is this summer? Ehhhh, wait till your trip date gets a little closer to make any moves, but start looking into what your options are.
- If your trip is in the fall? I don’t think there’s any reason to stress about it yet, but still be aware and monitor the situation both at home and in your destination.
The longer answers:
There isn’t really a concrete answer to whether you should cancel a trip or not, it’ll depend on a lot of factors like when you are going, where you are going, how you are getting there, and the current state of the world.
For example, Rob and I were supposed to be flying to Quito, Ecuador on May 2nd, that trip, for the time being, has been canceled, with the possibility of being rescheduled for later in the year or next year. The reasons being, the flight is in just over a week, it’s an international destination, we were flying which means airports and close quarters, and we are still under shelter in place orders here in California. Every element of this trip is a no-go.
However, when it comes to thinking about alternative trips within the US or California later in the summer I feel a little more optimistic. I’m not saying domestic travel this summer is going to be totally fine, there’s no way to know that right now, but I am hopeful.
It’s honestly going to be a waiting game to see what happens with the world, the virus, and how countries and states handle reopening and recovery. My theory is that things will slowly start to open up this summer, and travel around your own city and state will become an option. However, just because parks and museums are open doesn’t mean it’ll be safe to go, especially if everyone makes a mad dash to popular spots and they end up overcrowded. You’ll have to use your best judgment for yourself, your health, and those in your community. It’s also going to be important to consider the communities which you want to visit, personally I would not want to contribute to the overcrowding of national parks or the strain that would put on the surrounding communities. Really consider your impact before making a decision to go somewhere, yes you might just be one person, but what if thousands of other people thought the same thing?
Key things to consider about your trip:
- Are you willing to quarantine for two weeks when you get to your destination?
- Are you willing to quarantine for two weeks when you get home?
- How affected is the area you plan to go?
- How affected is the area you are coming from?
- Is your destination even open?
- How are you planning to travel?
- When are you planning to travel?
- How is your Health? The health of the people you are traveling with?
- Do you have travel insurance?
Most travel insurance does not cover this pandemic situation. However, there are policies that cover “cancel for any reason” situations. They are usually more expensive, but if you are booking any kind of travel right now for the next year it’s going to be worth looking into.
How to cancel or postpone your trip:
So you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to cancel or postpone your trip, it’s a bummer but sometimes it has to be done. When it comes to canceling, it’s better to let the airline, hotel, or accommodation cancel on you, and that might mean waiting till the last minute. If the vendor cancels on you, you are more likely to get a full refund or at least vouchers or credits for future travel. These companies still want to make money so they’ll wait until the last possible minute to cancel your flight or room in hopes that either you’ll cancel earlier forfeiting your refund and/or have to pay cancelation fees or that things will suddenly get better and you’ll still take your trip. However, if you wait till they cancel on you they are obligated to give you some kind of compensation.
Even if your travel vendor doesn’t actually cancel your reservation, if you wait until you are close to the travel date vendors tend to change up their policies to fit the current situation. For example, some accommodations won’t cancel your reservation, but they are extending their emergency cancelation policies about a month at a time, so waiting till less than a month before your trip to cancel will allow you to take advantage of the most up to date refund policy, rather than canceling your reservation two months out and not being able to get your deposit back.
Back to my canceled Ecuador trip, when everything started to go to shit, and we realized we probably weren’t going to Quito on May 2nd we didn’t go and cancel our flight right away. We waited, and sure enough in mid-April, the airlines contacted us saying they’d canceled our flight and we were eligible for a refund or a flight voucher for later in the year. Case in point, it seems to be advantageous to wait.
Travel vendor cancellation and change policies:
(as of April 24, 2020)
Here are some major travel vendor’s current policies on cancelations and changes. Depending on your travel date you will probably need to continually check-in to see if/what has changed, so I’ve linked to their pages as well.
American Airlines: Change and cancelation fees are waived if you bought your flight before May 31, 2020, and are scheduled to travel between March 1 and September 30, 2020. Rescheduled travel must take place before December 31, 2021. See website for more details.
United: Change and cancelation fees are waived if your ticket was issued on or before March 2, 2020, and your travel dates are between June 1 and December 31, 2020. Changes and cancelations must be made before April 30, 2020, and rebooked travel must be made within 24 months of the original travel dates. See website for more details.
Delta: Change and cancelation fees are waived for travel between March and September 30, 2020. E-Credits for flights may be used through September of 2022. See website for more details.
Alaska: Cancelation fees are waived for flights before December 31, 2020. Some tickets are eligible to change, while some can only be canceled for a voucher. See website for more details.
Southwest: No cancellations fees and vouchers for rescheduled travel are good through September 7, 2022. See website for more details.
Jetblue: Change and cancellation fees are waived for travel up to June 30th, reschedule travel can be booked up top January 4, 2021. See website for more details.
British Airways: Change and cancelations fees are waived for bookings made between March 3 and May 31, 2020. If you cancel your booking you will receive a voucher good for travel up to 12 months from your original departure date. See website for more details.
Air BNB: Reservations made before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31, 2020, are eligible for a full refund if canceled before the check-in date. See website for more details.
VRBO: Reservations made before March 13, 2020, with check-in dates between March 13 and May 31, 2020, you are eligible for a refund or flexible credit. See website for more details.
Hilton: Change and cancelation fees are waived for any reservation until June 30, 2020, as long as the change or cancelation is made 24 hours before the check-in date. See website for more details.
Marriott: Change and cancelation fees are waived for any reservation until June 30, 2020, as long as the change or cancelation is made 24 hours before the check-in date. See website for more details.
I know the waiting games sucks, but it’s the smartest thing you can do right now. Don’t lose hope though, you will travel again.
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