What to Do When Your Travel Plans Get Canceled by the Pandemic

According to the news, holiday travel plans could be delayed due to another surge in the pandemic. It’s unfortunate, but the possibility may occur since many cities and potential destinations could be on lockdown again, or families may decide not to travel due to sickness or the potential for infection.
We read about a recent survey of 553 Americans who were about to travel before the Thanksgiving holiday. One question they were asked was, “Has the pandemic canceled or changed your travel plans (destination, gathering /type, mode of travel, etc.) for the holidays this year?”
Of the respondents, 61.05% said yes, they had canceled or changed their plans, 24.82% said no, and 14.13% said they were waiting to see.
Canceling holiday plans is not easy, and it’s certainly not ideal, but even if you did, that doesn’t mean you have to lose all the money you spent in the process. In many cases, travel companies have options for their customers in case of COVID-related cancelations. Here are some of those options.
You can often rebook or cancel travel plans without penalty
Travel providers understand the issues travelers are having these days. With the second wave of COVID taking place, travelers are making the hard choice to cancel their stays at the hotels.
(Be sure to read about the steps that many hotels and Airbnb are taking to keep their hotels sanitized and cleaned with the latest COVID protocols.)
Although your reservation may be canceled, there could be an option to receive a voucher or certificate that is usable for a future stay at that hotel. Hospitality loyalty programs will often offer those in order to keep your business in the hopes that you will return in the future.
For example, Marriott is letting travelers cancel reservations that were made on or after July 6 with arrival dates through December 30. Your trip can be canceled or rebooked free of charge. (So be sure to sign up for a hotel’s loyalty program before you start traveling again.)
Buy Traveler’s Insurance
You may have never bought it before, but traveler’s insurance can save you a lot of money if your flight, hotel, or cruise were to be canceled for most reasons. Whether it’s related to COVID, your own personal illness, or even a natural disaster or political unrest, you can get reimbursed most, if not all, of your travel costs.
Of course, that depends on the kind of insurance you got and the reasons for the cancelation. So, be sure to review your policy and make sure it covers you for the reasons you’re most concerned about. For example, if you were going on a cruise that was canceled because of a hurricane, you could receive reimbursement for your plane tickets, rental car, and hotel nights that you were going to use to get to the cruise ship and return home.
Ask questions and research their policies
Whether you were going to fly, rent a car, stay at a hotel, or hole up in an Airbnb, or even see sights and take tours, you need to research their cancelation policies. Businesses want to keep your business, even if it means letting you change your reservation for another date.
If you have to cancel, make sure you know the policies beforehand and contact them to ask about alternate arrangements that can be made. Also, you can Google the travel provider’s name and “COVID cancelation policy” to find their actual policy that tells you what your options are.
Other travel ideas
If your plans are canceled, and you won’t be going to your final destination, that doesn’t mean you need to sit at home in the dark. There are (hopefully) still other options in your hometown that you could consider.
Maybe you could take a day trip to see some local sights. Or you could “live like a local” and stay in a hotel nearby and experience your city as if you were a tourist. You could pick a place that’s not on lockdown or that will give you a fairly safe experience, like a state park, or see what it’s like to live like a digital nomad for a few days.
Depending on where you live, there may be a place within a few hours of home that you could still go to and rescue your vacation, even if you can’t visit family or take the winter cruise you were hoping for. Then, just save your vouchers and reschedule your trip for next year when it’s safer to visit family and friends or see those faraway sights you were hoping to see.
Did you have to cancel any travel plans during the pandemic? How did you cope, or what are you planning to do? Share your stories and tips with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: dmncwndrlch (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)