Travel Planning

Lessons from cancelling a trip

Along with almost everyone else around the world right now, I’ve had to cancel plans due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Australia has currently banned all international travel and Western Australia where I am located has gone further to ban any travel and in out of the state. For a while there we even had regional restrictions which made almost any travel impossible let alone a big overseas trip.

I previously shared the itinerary of our cancelled plans which you can read about here: A 44 day UK and Nordic Itinerary . Focusing on the positives, there were a number of things I learned the hard way about cancelling a trip which I’ll be more prepared for in future.

Understand all of the situations your insurance policy will and won’t cover

When it started to seem like we really were going to have to cancel I checked my insurance policy and noticed they didn’t cover cancellations due to a pandemic, even if you took the policy out before it was declared. A few people I talked to said their policy said the same thing, so they weren’t going to cancel at first as they wouldn’t get their money back.
Then I read a bit further and realised my insurance also wouldn’t cover me if I got sick overseas from the virus. This sealed the deal for me as you don’t want to be stuck on the other side of the world in hospital with an awful illness and no coverage.
While you could be forgiven for not considering this sort of once in a lifetime situation we are going through, it’s important to read through all the clauses and notes in your policy as there may be specific situations relevant to you that you are not actually covered for, particularly in terms of pre-existing conditions.

Review all cancellation/refund policies

On a similar note, it is important to understand cancellation policies for things like concert tickets, flights, hotels and attractions.
Hotels particularly can have a huge variety in their cancellation policies, with some allowing full cancellation 24 hours prior and others taking one night’s fee for any cancellations. Luckily hotel cancellations are something I do keep track of, as sometimes I like to switch rooms if a better deal comes up. Because of this I was able to get all of our 44 nights accommodation refunded with no issues.
A lot of our attraction tickets like the Harry Potter Studios Tour were offering you the chance to re-book on a different date, which might have been good for locals but we weren’t going to get to the UK at all any time soon so this didn’t really work for us. Luckily they ended up refunding all tickets for our dates so that was a bonus.

Don’t pay for anything upfront if you don’t need to

For our trip we had booked in a couple of car rentals. When booking online most of the time they will offer a cheaper price to pay up-front or a bit more expensive price to pay when you arrive. It was tempting to pay the cheaper price up front but obviously when it came time to cancel they wouldn’t refund us!
Unless you will be saving a ton of money by paying up front I would always consider paying for things when you arrive, so that you are never out of pocket in the first place.

Sometimes you don’t legally have to be refunded, or if you are it can take 3+ months

When our flights got cancelled it seemed like common sense that we would be refunded our money. The airline cancelled a service they couldn’t provide us. However, according to Australian consumer law at least, an airline only had to provide ‘compensation’ which could come in the form of a flight voucher. For some people a voucher is enough, but given the situation we are in there is no guarantee we can or will want to use our voucher within the allocated time.
We managed to get our flights refunded (minus a cancellation fee…) but then there was the long, long wait for the money to appear in our account. After 2 months I re-visted the consumer website which stated that waiting 12 weeks or so for a refund is an acceptable length of time!
I think in the end it took around 15 weeks to be refunded but we got there in the end.

Have a really long bucket list and back up holiday ideas

With the only options for travel being local for the time being, at first it was actually a struggle to think about where we wanted to go for a weekend away. I could tell you a million places around the globe I’d like to go to, but within Australia or WA not so much.
It took a bit of researching to actually realise what was available in our own backyard and what I might like to see. I now have a much longer bucket list of places to see up north and down south, so I won’t be short of ideas if those are our only options.
There is also no certainty about where we may be able to travel once international borders finally do open up, so thinking about a number of different locations that might interest you is likely to make any holiday planning more exciting.

You do really appreciate your past travels

One of the joys of travel is having past memories to look back on and to have a whole bunch of awesome life experiences. When you are stuck at home and can’t even go to a local cafe, it makes you appreciate your past travels even more. For me it has re-enforced how important it is to get out and see the world.

You have to enjoy your home life too

While travelling is so rewarding and having a holiday to look forward to is good for the soul, you need to have other areas of your life that bring you happiness too. Having to stay at home with no major travels to look forward to anytime soon really brings home the fact you have to happy with your surroundings, the people you are spending time with and your other hobbies.
There is no use having a life you are always trying to escape from as there sometimes comes a point where you can’t!

How have your travel plans been impacted by the pandemic?

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5 replies »

  1. Good advice. You certainly do have a lot to see in Western Australia – we went there last year and had a wonderful time – but I hope circumstances changes soon so you can travel a little further afield. Certainly what you say about appreciating home and what is nearby rings true but I hadn’t imagined that retirement would be quite as local as this.

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