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Methods to keep track of cancellation dates?

We are traveling Europe for 3 1/2 months this summer from May to June. As we are fine tuning our itinerary, we are booking most of our stays on booking.com, all with varying free cancellation policies. Since we are traveling in peak season, with a dog, and attempting to adhere to our budget, (so far so good), we are booking everything in advance, but knowing we have some flexibility in between non changeable/refundable transportation.

Here’s my question, with over 26 lodging bookings so far, does anyone have a tried and true method to keep track and remind one of a variety of upcoming cancellation dates.

Any brilliant and great ideas?

I use TripIt to store the most up to date itinerary. For nights not booked yet, I add a add a plan that says “city Not Reserved” for placeholders. While all the lodging information is on booking.com, I’d have to look up cancellations individually.

Posted by
7574 posts

I put cancellation dates on my (iPhone) calendar. I usually put it several days before the actual date, and again on the date. That was I can keep an eye on things. If I want to cancel before seeing it on the calendar I know I'm fine. If I get to the date several days before the actual date it reminds me to take care of it if necessary.

Posted by
23337 posts

I write on a wall calendar. If that's too big, when I leave for travel I take copies of each page for while I'm gone and it is all in front of me, and I can make changes and notes as I go. For three months it would only be 3 pieces of paper.

I guess I'm old-school....

Posted by
301 posts

What a great question and how lucky you have that long to be in Europe! I would suggest using the iPhone calendar as well. You can enter your cancellation date once, and then set two alerts for that date. Example, set a reminder one week before the expiration date and then another the day before the date. That way, you don't have to keep going back to the calendar to check.
I would probably also put the info on a spreadsheet listing the hotel name and cancellation date. Not sure if you can set that up with an email reminder, though.

Posted by
1894 posts

If you are planning to make last minute cancellations, I would encourage you to make reservations at larger places that can more easily absorb the lost income. From talking with B&B/small inn owners during my stays in Europe, last minute Booking.com cancellations are hurting their businesses quite a bit. Booking.com is a double-edged sword for them. They feel like they can't survive without it, but they also are getting killed by last-minute cancellations -- one owner to the point that she wondered how long she will be able to remain in business because of them.

Posted by
67 posts

I too book most lodging with booking.com, which has been easy and fairly reliable, but sometimes book via other sources. Like Karen, I do a combo method, with dates on my phone plus a paper copy of a spreadsheet that has our full itinerary, with date, place, contact info, and payment status/method. I find it useful to have a paper copy on hand so I can see the whole trip list. It has been handy if phone needs charging etc. I got caught once, when I failed to realize the cancellation deadline for a Paris booking, due to time zone differences and being on a flight at the wrong time! Now I’m more careful!

Posted by
609 posts

Like some of the other posters, I put cancellation date in my calendar as a reminder along with the contact information and/or link required for cancellation.

Posted by
1510 posts

Didn’t even think of iPhone reminders, duh! I think my booking automatically ends up on my calendar anyway. Just need to add alerts.

And was planning on creating a spreadsheet for lodging with other info - price for stay, apartment vs. hotel vs. B&B, washing machine, confirm AC, checkin/checkout times/ will store bags for early checkin/check out, method to get keys, confirm dog is OK and cost.

Not planning on cancelling, but always good to know options as traveling to a good plan sometimes needs flexibility. Seems the majority of reservations have a 7-14 day window. Some up to 30days.

Posted by
3350 posts

Hi Karen, I use Booking.com for almost all of my European reservations and also load everything into TripIt Pro. I remember last year receiving emails (I think it was from Booking) telling me I only had a couple of days to cancel a reservation coming soon. I didn’t cancel any of them since I have my plans solid several months ahead but appreciated the notice.

For an extra layer of notification for your type of trip, I’d either load that needed cancellation date in my calendar or as an extra entry in TripIt. Agree with the comment above - I support the smaller, family-owned lodging.

Posted by
1510 posts

Just figured out something very cool.

Siri is automatically picking up my bookings from emails and they already show on my calendar (only if I change dates, or cancel have to manually remove). But in th Booking.com app, in the reservation, there is an option to add to iPad calendar. So I can do this, change the date to the cancel date, Add “Cancelation” to the title, and add alert.

Posted by
2479 posts

One other thing to watch out for when entering things into your phone calendar is to change the time zone/place (one of the scrolling things in iPhone calendaring) if that will affect where you are when you need to cancel. We were in a different time zone booking a lot of travel for another trip once and our calendar was off because we were booking our time zone for another part of the country.

Posted by
1510 posts

Sharon,
What does TripIt Pro get you that the free app doesn’t?

Mona, good point on the time zones. I’ll check it out.

Posted by
1918 posts

Great tips on this thread! I too was just thinking about the best way to keep track of cancellation dates. We are set with our refundable lodging bookings for next fall. Although we only have 9 lodgings, I think the idea of adding it to my iPhone calendar and a spreadsheet (with other important info) will be great. Thanks to all!

Posted by
3131 posts

I don’t think you mentioned this but I’ll bring this up anyway:

3 1/2 months. If you’re a citizen of a non-Schengen nation, have you planned enough days outside the Schengen zone as you’re only allowed 90 days including arrival & departure dates in Schengen countries?

Posted by
1510 posts

We are currently residents of Italy and our Permisso di Soggiorno expires July 31. The 90 day Schengen applies outside of Italy- we depart Italy on June 13 to Croatia then depart Amsterdam on July 19 to UK.

Posted by
564 posts

"We are traveling Europe for 3 1/2 months this summer from May to June."

??? Even if you meant July.

Posted by
6093 posts

We are traveling Europe for 3 1/2 months this summer from May to June."

??? Even if you meant July.

Happy to see I am not the only who found this puzzling

( and not fair to blame Barley!)

Posted by
1510 posts

See I confuse easily, hence the need for my question. To be exact April 29 - August 14 traveling in Europe. Then another two months transiting the US back to California.