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Planning Vacations During COVID-19: Tips from a Travel Expert

Planning Vacations During COVID-19: Tips from a Travel Expert

The coronavirus has swept in and wreaked havoc on life as we once knew it. The mandate to limit gatherings to less than 10 people has caused graduations, concerts, sporting events and vacations to be cancelled overnight. Even the Olympics has been postponed until 2021. 

This is typically the time of year when families everywhere start gearing up for a much-anticipated summer break.  But what about family vacation? Do we dare to even allow ourselves to think about the possibility of riding in a car, or boarding an airplane to somewhere other than our living room? And, what about those who’ve already had trips cancelled as a result of COVID-19?

So, we asked an expert for some helpful tips and tricks as we move cautiously into the summer vacation season. Here is our friend, Leisha Gonzales, Travel Consultant with Pack Happy Travel.

“My trip has been cancelled. What is my first step? 

“Hopefully you have used a Travel Agent to book your trip!  They are your best resource and will work for you to get your trip rebooked or cancelled! Most of the time, Travel Agents, like myself, get paid commission by the vendor, and we do not charge an additional fee!” 

I did purchase travel insurance for my trip. What do I need to do to use it?

“The one thing travel agents can’t do it interpret insurance. Legally, we are not allowed to tell you what is or isn’t included in your policy.  Clients will have to call their travel insurance company directions to ask questions. Only employees of the insurance company can tell you what is written in your  policy. Remember to read the fine print!!!  Pandemics are typically not included in insurance!”

I have a trip coming up just around the corner, should I cancel? 

“If your trip is falling within the next month or so, I would first see what your airline says about cancelling.  Airlines all have different policies, some are wanting the funds to be used in 6 months, other airlines are saying 12 months.  You need to know this before you call to reschedule your trip.”

Circumstances seem to be day-to-day right now. How long do I need to wait before cancelling my trip?

“I would want to know how long you have to make the final payment.  Many destinations are actually extending final payments due to the unpredictability of our situation.” 

If I rebook my trip for a later date and I still can’t travel because of COVID-19 closures, what do I do? 

“I would ask your destination if they have a limited number of times you can “change” your vacation plans.  Could you rebook 2 or 3 times?” 

Can I get a refund?  

“I would know your options – will they refund 100%?  Will they give you 125%-150% if you rebook? Some cruise lines and destinations are giving you upgrades if you keep your reservation and rebook for a later date.”

Should I begin planning a summer vacation?  

“YES!!!  I think EVERYONE needs something to look forward to right now.  COVID 19 will not last forever.  I would not plan your whole life around the worst-case scenario.  When your travel agent books your trip, they should be able to let you know what the booking procedures would be if you needed to cancel or rebook your summer trip.”

“Once COVID 19 starts to taper off people will want (and need) to travel!  Travel Agents are commission only, we are typically paid once our clients have traveled.  Our greatest compliment is a referral, we would love to assist you, your friends and family on their next destination!”

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