While Coronavirus is dominating the news cycle right now there are dozens of reasons why your vacation may have to be cancelled.
Here's how to keep from losing your money along with your vacation
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How to Cancel Your Vacation & Keep Your Money
Life happens. People get sick. Travel companies close. Worldwide contagion breaks out. And your vacation plans fall apart.
Proper planning and precaution can make cancelling a vacation a bit less painful. Yes, you may miss the trip but you'll be able to reschedule or plan a different one.
(1:23) Know the Cancellation Policies
Before booking read the fine print.
Many, but not all hotels, have a generous cancellation window. Some accommodations, such as vacation rentals, and AirBnB are much more strict.
Car rental companies usually have a relaxed cancellation policy.
Federal law allows 24 hours from time of booking to cancel a flight IF it is booked 7 days before the departure date. But note that this only applies to flights booked directly with the airline, not through 3rd party websites.
Most flights are non-refundable, but some offer rebooking of cancelled flights for a fee.
Know that the low-fare economy tickets on most airlines are 100% non-refundable with no rebooking option.
Make note of cancellation policies, as well as ‘final cancellation' dates, for your trip. And keep all communication as proof.
Did you book with miles or points? NerdWallet has a terrific article to help you recoup those!
(3:50) Cancel as Early as Possible
If you know your trip won't be happening begin cancelling your plans. This gives the hotel, flight, etc, time to resell your vacated ticket.
Some non-refundable items will offer partial refunds if they can sell your ticket.
(4:19) If You Don't Ask the Answer is Always No
It never hurts to ask. I had to cancel a planned trip over the Christmas holiday due to a severe accident my father was involved in. Our accommodation deposit was non-refundable but I needed to call and cancel so we weren't charged for the remaining days. When I explained the situation our deposit was refunded as a good-will gesture.
(4:55) Email First
If a company or website doesn't have an easy way to cancel send an email first.
I know that a lot of financial sites tell you to call first, don't email. But the single biggest problem with this is that a call does not have a paper trail, other than what you wrote down. And then it is a he said/ she said if the notes don't match.
I recommend a polite email stating the need to cancel, the reason, and asking to either rebook for a future stay or for a refund.
Many travel companies will send a form letter response, but don't let that deter you. Follow the chain of command until you reach someone who can help you.
Not sure who to contact? Elliott.org consumer advocacy group has a list of contacts on their website.
If you must call be sure to get full names, employee numbers, and a tracking code (if possible) for your conversation. Write down the date and time of the call, as well. Detailed conversation notes are very important.
(6:30) Be Polite
A little kindness goes a long way.
Sometimes a company is unable to offer cash refunds, but can allow for rebooking at a future date.
Be sure to keep those notes!
(7:20) Buy Travel Insurance
Any time you are dealing with money you need to think about risk. How much will you lose if the trip has to be cancelled- and can you afford the loss?
Travel insurance policies cost an average of 4-8% of your trip cost.
In my article Do You Need Travel Insurance for Your Ireland Vacation I offer suggestions on how to analyze your risk level, as well as how to figure out the travel coverage you may already have.
While travel insurance can be booked any time prior to your trip, you want to book it sooner rather than later.
Most travel insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions that are under control if you buy the policy soon after booking.
I recommend a policy that includes ‘cancel for any reason' coverage. While this coverage will reimburse only 75% of your vacation costs you can cancel for any reason (including coronavirus which, as a ‘known event' is excluded from most cancellation policies).
I use Squaremouth, a travel insurance aggregator, to search policies using filters like ‘cancel for any reason', medical, and even work related reasons.
(9:52) Thanks for Listening!
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