When non-essential travel is paused indefinitely, people around the world are forced to change flights, cancel hotel reservations and haggle over “no-refund” policies for the vacations they had been planning. Managing travel plans at the last minute, especially without a reschedule date in sight, is both frustrating and challenging.
While predicting travel restrictions can be difficult, there are ways to protect yourself and your travel plans before falling victim to the harsh policies that are put into place in response to various circumstances. When these travel restrictions are eventually loosened and you’re allowed to go on what is no doubt a much-needed getaway, it’s smart to hope for the best but plan for the worst to avoid issues. Below are a few resources to protect you and your travel plans:
- Travel insurance
- Credit card travel protection
- Travel agents
- Health and safety precautions
Travel insurance can be a great way to protect yourself and your wallet when booking a vacation. Unfortunately, most policies don’t cover cancellations and refunds related to “foreseen circumstances,” but you can add Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage to receive a portion of your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs back. It usually ranges between 50-75% of the total cost. Pay attention to the fine print though--Forbes Magazine warns that CFAR coverage can only be added to a travel insurance base plan and has to be purchased in the two to three week period after the first trip deposit. Keep in mind, too, that you cannot cancel your trip within two days of departure, or the CFAR coverage could be void. Some states don’t even offer CFAR coverage so make sure to check with your travel insurance provider before booking.
These are some of the travel insurance companies recommended by Forbes when searching for a CFAR coverage plan.
- AXA Assistance USA
- HTH Travel Insurance
- Seven Corners Travel Insurance
- Travelex Insurance Services
- Travelsafe Insurance
- Trawick International
- USI Affinity
Credit Card Travel Protection
While CFAR coverage is considered a primary means to guarantee any sort of refund, you might also find success using the travel insurance policies provided by your credit card. Refunds are typically made on a case-by-case basis and it’s possible to utilize these policies to cancel or reschedule a trip. For example, according to Forbes, the Chase Sapphire card offers refunds on travel purchases such as tickets, hotels and rental cars. The travel insurance package also includes trip cancellation, interruption, baggage loss, delay and primary rental car. With both Chase and American Express cards, you can even get a refund if you receive a travel restriction from your physician and notify the respective card company within 48 hours.
Most credit cards do not cover all issues affected by travel restrictions, but companies often do what they can to accommodate their customers and plan for the future.
Travel agents will always be among the first to understand the new lay of the land once travel restrictions are lifted. They make booking vacations simple, so utilizing their services is a great way to take the stress out of planning. As the world of hospitality evolves, they have the industry contacts and background to help you plan a vacation with the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. According to USA Today, many people recommend travel agents because they offer personalized assistance that doesn’t come with booking online. Airline and hotel websites make it easy to search and purchase accommodations, but changing or cancelling any part of your vacation can mean a seemingly endless amount of phone calls and emails. If you’re looking for a way to book your next vacation hassle-free and with the knowledge of an industry professional, consider researching online travel agents further.
Health and Safety Precautions
The health and safety of travelers is of the utmost importance, and there are many ways to protect yourself and others around you. For starters, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and consider wearing a mask during more extreme cases. Spreading germs is extremely easy, especially when in tight quarters or high-traffic areas like an airport, so do your best to stay away from other travelers who appear to be unwell. This includes their bags and other belongings. If you feel under the weather, staying home is likely the best option despite the challenges of rescheduling or canceling a trip.
Depending on your travel destination, make sure you also have all necessary vaccinations and authorizations. As always, follow any guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.
Cancelling a vacation or making changes to an itinerary can be expensive and overwhelming. Take the time and steps necessary to navigate potential travel restrictions. While you can’t predict what’s coming, there are a variety of ways to protect yourself when booking.
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