Whether you have to cancel a vacation due to a coronavirus pandemic or itching to plan it, you may be full of travel questions. So Next Avenue talks to some experts for their best advice. After months of quarantine, some people later start to leave home and travel; more are expected to do it this summer and fall.
James Larounis, travel industry analyst for the Upgraded Points site, noted that the number of travelers passing through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint increased by 100,000 from March to April – to 230,000. On May 24, according to The Wall Street Journal, the number reached 267,451. That’s still down dramatically from more than 2 million a year ago, because so many Americans are still afraid of traveling.
Now, to answer common questions about holidays and pandemics:
What should I do if I haven’t received a refund for a canceled trip this spring? “I think there are a lot of delays in returning money for trips booked this spring because of the many people who asked for it,” said Kareem George, head of the Culture Traveler school in Franklin, Mich.
Just ask Phillis Godwin, 76, from Shawnee, Kansas. He ordered a 7-day cruise for his family on March 15-22 and was canceled when the pandemic began to spread in the US. He had bought travel insurance, even though it did not cover costs related to the pandemic, a hotel for $ 600 for one person. – Stay overnight in a port city or flight ticket.
“The cruise line was finally canceled, but I have already arranged cancellation of our trip,” Godwin said. He hasn’t received a refund yet, and can only be connected to the travel insurance claim adjuster in mid-May.
His advice: keep calling and be persistent.
What if I have booked a trip for this summer? Will you get a refund or credit for future trips, said George, will be in accordance with airline, hotel, tour operator or other travel business policies. Hotels usually allow cancellations up to 24 hours before your stay.
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Many travel companies now offer incentives to reorder rather than cancel, said George. For example, you might get a discount for your next stay if you reverse your booking to a new date.
Larounis said that if your flight is canceled or moved, you can usually get a refund. But, he suggested, don’t cancel on your own first. “Wait until they cancel first, and the ball will be back in your corner,” Larouinis said.
If I really want to travel, should I plan for this summer? Nobody can predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will do this summer, of course. Because of that uncertainty, a shorter and more economical journey might be the answer.
“I think people will tend to choose more land trips this summer to places like parks, if they are open,” George said. “I think people can also make short flights.”
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If you travel, expect to see new policies for social distance and sanitation at airports, on planes, with tour operators and at hotels. You may see hand sanitizers and masks at the check-in point. And expect to find your hotel room to be cleaned and left empty for a longer period of time than in the past.
Would it be safer to stay in an RV, hotel, Airbnb or bed-and-breakfast hotel or boutique? Although you might think it would be safer to travel and live in an RV this summer, Larounis warned, “Some parks may still be closed. And if they are open, bathrooms and showers are usually communal, so they will not always be safer [from COVID-19] than staying in a hotel. ”
George said many of his clients plan to stay in smaller bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels, to avoid the possibility of transmitting the corona virus from the crowds in larger hotels.
“As for Airbnb, I see both sides,” said George. “If you are not sure the restaurant will open at your destination, you might have the desire to control the environment by bringing your own food. On the other hand, it is very difficult to standardize sanitation policies [at Airbnbs]. It’s a matter of the level of comfort and trust in the cleanliness of the people you hire. ”
Should I book an international trip later this summer, this fall or next year because many parts of the world are starting to reopen? You might have better luck booking flights to major destinations globally, said George. “There are many more variables if you travel to a remote location,” said George. “The key is knowing the entry requirements, whether you have to remain in quarantine once you arrive and how you will roam once you get there.”
Regarding shipping, George noted, they would depend on which port was open.
Should I buy travel insurance? It was a personal decision and experts were divided about it. But travel insurance policies do not include pandemic coverage. And policies vary greatly in terms of what they will pay and how much they will cost.
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“You have to understand what you are buying,” said George. “If you don’t work with a travel advisor, contact a travel insurance company and make sure you understand all the benefits,” said George.
Recommendation: If you want to buy travel insurance, get a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. Understand that such policies are generally far more expensive than others.
An experienced traveler, Godwin, offers travel insurance advice based on his own experience canceling trips planned for March. “Don’t let them persuade you to cover all costs,” Godwin said. “I let the agent persuade me to close my plane ticket, and I will get out $ 2,500 just for that.”
Should I book now for a trip this fall or at the end of 2020 or in 2021? Hard to say. The safety of the pandemic is unknown, as is the pricing. But there might be some good deals if you are willing to take risks.
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“Right before the pandemic, I saw prices go down and now we see them starting to go down again,” said George.
Larounis estimates that, to win back customers, prices for airlines and hotels will continue to fall or there will be a large incentive, because the shipping industry already offers. Cruise lines usually allow you to cancel months in advance.
What if I want to travel but have a basic health condition that makes me more vulnerable to corona virus? “See your doctor before traveling,” said George. “More transparent than ever about all your problems, so your doctor can advise and give you input.”
And, he added, ask your doctor whether the activities you plan will be safe for you.
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