Travel is done….for now.
But it’s not dead forever. Travel will return slowly as we work our way out of the Coronavirus lockdown.
But many of us have trips planned for the summer, fall, and beyond.
And the question is, “Should I cancel those trips now or wait to see what happens?”.
Today’s show discusses how to answer that question, why, and how to make the right call.
Show Notes & Timestamps
- Creating a timeline of cancel dates 00:01:00
- 2 reasons why waiting to cancel might be smarter 00:02:47
- Recommendation for trips in 2 months 00:03:54
- How to get some flexibility from travel suppliers 00:04:25
- Getting someone on your side 00:05:07
- Summary 00:06:35
Hello, and welcome to Safe Travels…my name is Damian.
The goal of this show is to help you achieve worry-free travel. I want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy your trip Today we’re going to answer the question, “Should I cancel my summer vacation or fall trip?”.
Nobody is traveling right now, but how about later in the summer or the fall or even the holidays?
Maybe you currently have plans. Maybe you want to make some plans, but you’re just not sure what to do.
First of all, you really don’t want to be unsafe. You want to stay healthy. You want to keep her family healthy.
Second of all, you don’t want to lose your money. You don’t want to book a trip, end up canceling and lose everything that you pay.
And finally, you don’t want to be stressed. You don’t want to have to worry about losing your trip, losing your money. None of that’s fun.
So many travelers right now are wondering, should I cancel my summer vacation? Should I cancel my fall trip even into the holidays?
Maybe you should postpone and you’re not sure when to make that final call. When do you make that decision?
The timing on this can matter. When you make these decisions can determine the amount of money that you’re able to get back or the flexibility that you might have in re-booking your trip or postponing it.
So here is how to know if you should cancel or if you should just wait it out.
First of all, you want to create some sort of timeline of when you need to make the decisions, when you need to make the call.
This is a big part of managing the stress of deciding whether you should take your trip or not. There’s a lot of wait and see right now, we are in mid April. But in general, if you don’t need to make the decision yet, just hold off.
Now, annoyingly, there’s no one size fits all answer because every company, every travel supplier has different terms and conditions as far as when they let you cancel, it completely depends on who you booked with and what their cancellation policies look like.
So you will have to do a little bit of homework here…read a little bit of fine print and understand when you need to make the decision.
You’re basically trying to figure out, is this a time sensitive decision?
So the first step is to make a list of all of the things that you have booked, your flights, your hotel accommodations, maybe your cruise, any tours or experiences. Anything that you have planned, anything that you have booked, anything that you’ve already put some money into as a deposit or even fully paid.
You can put it in a spreadsheet if you want, or just paper, if not So just as a sample trip, let’s say you’re going out to the Grand Canyon with your family, you’re going to rent a camper. You would have the flights to get there. You’d have a hotel for your first night, you’d have the camper rental that’s prepaid for. Maybe you’re taking a guided tour.
So make a list of all the different things that you’re spending some money on…then go through the different suppliers, the different providers and take note of the cancellation deadlines and take note of the penalty of the cancellation.
The deadline dates might be days after initial booking, days before departure, t might be a firm date. You want to determine when that cutoff point is, and then you also want to take note of the penalty of not making that date. So there might be a period of time where you get 100% of your money back, and then after a date, you could 75% of your money back, and then after another date, you get 50% of your money back. So for example, we had a VRBO recently that was 100% refundable until a certain date, and then after that became 50% and then in the final days up until the actual rental, it was 0%.
So you want to know when those deadlines are approaching and figure out when you need to start taking action. If that time is months away, I would recommend just waiting it out.
There’s two reasons for that.
First of all, it is less stressful if there is no need to do it Now, let the situation play out.
A lot of things can change with the shutdown. And part of the idea of this is taking away some of the stress and some of the worry. So if you do not need to make a decision for let’s say, two months, there’s no reason to.
And the second reason is it’s better to be canceled than for you to cancel on your own.
It’s better if the cruise line or the airline or a tour company cancels your trip than if you make the decision yourself…and here’s the reason: If you cancel, it’s your decision and you’re on the hook for the expenses.
If it’s out of your hands, if you are canceled, then you’ll have more flexibility in getting a refund.
For example, airlines, when they cancel your flight, owe you 100% cash refund, not a voucher or a credit, they are required to offer you a full refund.
Another example with travel insurance, if their supplier goes out of business, if they go bankrupt, that can be covered as well.
But if you cancel your trip on your own decision before that, you can lose all your money.
So that’s two reasons why it’s best just to wait. Things might change, and second of all, the decision might be taken out of your hands. And that’s a good thing.
I would recommend, if you have travel in the next two months…so between now and up until the middle of June… I would plan on making a change to your trip.
Most of the country is still in some sort of full lockdown right now. When it does start to lift, it won’t be all at once and I would expect that we’ll have disrupted travel for at least a few months.
If your trip is after the middle of June and into summer and into fall, I would just wait. As long as there’s no financial penalty to waiting and you’re not being asked to place additional deposits on it and you’re not putting more money on the line, there’s no reason to cancel, but that’s where you need to go back to those cancellation dates and the different penalties.
The next big thing you can do is reach out to those that you booked your trip with before you need to cancel or postpone.
So you have your timeline…you have the dates that you need to cancel by, and you have an idea of what the penalties are at the different dates.
So technically that is what you need to live by. However, none of these policies are written in stone, especially with what is going on right now.
So it really pays to reach out to the travel supplier and discuss your situation with them, have a conversation with them. There has been a lot of flexibility with different travel suppliers as far as their cancellation policies. So I wouldn’t just read the agreement and assume that those are the only options that you have.
When you call, the person on the other line does not want to lose your business. There’s a very good chance that they can have some flexibility. When all of this is over, they are going to want your business again…so they are incented to do the right thing.
If you booked a trip through a travel specialist, a travel expert, or an agent, let them try to do some fighting for you. First of all, travel specialists have great experience in this. They know the ins and outs of the business, so they certainly have a leg up.
They also have the time to do this. It can be pretty frustrating to sit on hold for a long time trying to get through to different vendors, And they might also have a little bit of weight to push around. Travel suppliers get a lot of business through agencies and travel advisors, so they want to keep them happy.
So there’s a pretty good chance you can get some flexibility on different travel suppliers cancellation policies if you ask the right way, either through yourself personally or through a travel expert.
In addition to a cancellation, you can also discuss postponing the trip. So in this case, you might be able to negotiate something with the supplier. Maybe if you postpone the trip, they will upgrade you or add extra nights or something like that. It’s a way for them to keep the sale and for you to get something extra out of it for not canceling.
This is also nice because you’re still supporting travel providers in these hard times. We all want them to be around when this is over. So letting them keep the revenue now is really going to help them out.
This is especially true for smaller independent businesses, small travel suppliers. They’re the ones that are really hurting right now. They’re not getting large checks from the government to stay in business, and I think you can see a lot of flexibility from them.
I know if I had a small inn or a small tour company and somebody called up wanting to cancel their trip, I would be quite happy if I can get them to postpone it, I’d be willing to give them some extra perks if I can keep that money in my bank account.
So make sure that you explore all of the options with the traveler provider. They might be flexible on cancellations. They might be flexible on postponing your trip and making it worth your while.
So let’s summarize.
If you’re thinking about canceling your summer vacation, your fall trip, or even into winter, and you’re not quite sure what to do, start by making a timeline of when you need to decide, figure out all of the dates, what are the cutoff points?
Get them all onto a piece of paper or into a spreadsheet.
Delayed the decision as long as possible. First of all, it’s less stressful…if you don’t need to decide now, don’t.
And second of all, it’s better if they cancel on you than if you cancel on them. It gives you more flexibility If you’re traveling in the next, now it’s the middle of April and the middle of June…there’s a pretty good chance that you are going to be disrupted.
So I would look at trying to change those plans. If you have something booked after that, wait it out if you can, again, look at your timeline, figure out if you can do that.
And finally get in touch with the travel suppliers about exceptions. They might make an exception and be flexible on the cancellation policies and they might also offer some incentives for postponing your trip. That way they can keep the business and give you a little bit something extra from being flexible with him.
I hope this has been helpful. Please share it if you can, and Safe Travels!