I’m planning on finally going on a trip abroad with my family but I am still a little nervous. I don’t want to invest a big chunk of money in a dream trip and then decide to back out and lose it all. What are my options?
-Overwhelmed Almost Traveler
I understand your concerns. Many of us are yearning to travel again but don’t know what the future will bring. In the event you do have to back out of a trip, you probably want your money back, right? Well, this does get tricky. There are few things to keep in mind, especially when traveling internationally:
Learn about your destination: Check your destinations’ COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before traveling. Sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a good place to start. There are always risks to traveling, but it’s good to understand the overall situation for a particular destination or country you may be considering. Would you feel more comfortable visiting one place more than another, or perhaps at a later time? Of course, this is something you can discuss with your family and a trusted travel advisor.
Get up to speed: Brush up on the latest travel news sources that are regularly reporting on cancellation matters. Sites like The Points Guy and reporters like Christopher Elliot dig into this stuff daily, especially on how credit cards grapple with travel cancellations. It’s good to have a sense for what’s happening in the world, too. Travel suppliers are always changing the way they handle cancellations and travel date adjustments. Stay on top of it.
Check your hotel cancellation policy: When it comes to booking a trip, sounds like you want maximum flexibility? If so, consider booking a hotel stay that offers same-day cancellations without penalty. Here’s why: I once booked a weekend hotel stay in Boston for an attractive price. I was in a rush and didn’t pay close attention to the actual terms. A few weeks later, I had to cancel the trip. Unfortunately, I booked a non-refundable hotel stay — and was stuck with the bill.
Review your airline policy: Airlines, such as Delta and JetBlue, may offer refundable or non-refundable ticket options. The US Department of Transportation website also gives passengers details on what the rules and regulations are. For example, there are different policies for airlines if a passenger wants to cancel a ticket reservation or purchase within 24 hours of booking. Find the full details here.
Cruise lines and tour operators: Same stuff. Check all terms and conditions.
Consider coverage: I’ve worked with the travel insurance industry for a long time and understand coverage pretty well. If you’re okay with a splurge, consider travel insurance with cancel for any reason coverage. There are eligibility requirements, but it’s worth a look. Better yet? Contact a licensed travel insurance agent for help.
Bottom line: when it comes to travel, it’s up to you to decide your comfort level. When it comes to flexible travel, everything you book comes with terms and conditions that can be hard to wiggle out of.