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What changes will you make when planning travel when this all ends

Assuming this will end, most of us will be around, we will have some money (I hope!) travel and planning travel will begin. Lot’s of more serious issues I know, but this is a travel forum after all. We have had to cancel several trips small and large and still have a RS tour scheduled in June to Italy. I’m quite certain they will need to cancel that. For our other trips it’s been painful, convoluted and, at times, trying. For future plans here is what I will do differently:

1) Travel insurance. I’ve been an advocate for travel insurance on this forum and always buy it. I’ve had to cancel for health reasons twice and the insurance covered what it was supposed to. Now posts abound about the exclusions, and I got caught in one I didn’t see. Turns out the policy I have for the RS tour has an exclusion on page 41 (really) that says no coverage for losses if a tour provider cancels, So RS might cancel but I’m on my own for all the other expenses, the largest of which is airfare. I think I’ll continue to buy travel insurance but I will really scrutinize each policy before I purchase. Also, having worked in health insurance for many years I know that industry is highly regulated here in California. I have a hunch travel insurance, not so much; it’s a relatively small market. I plan to dialogue with the state Dept. Of Insurance and state legislature regarding how to better protect consumers from exclusions that are impossible to find, or render a policy worthless.

2) Booking flights. We always start looking way in advance and book when it seems right price wise, knowing we only want economy plus seats. But, getting a credit that needs to be used within a year of the booking date really works against that sort of planning. I’m going to wait much closer to the planned departure date even if it means bypassing a good price. A change airlines should make (the ones that survive) is give credit a year from the date of departure instead of purchase. What good will it do me to have a credit that expires in September 2021 in the face of this pandemic?

3) Other refunds. We don’t book non-refundable anything as a rule, but certainly won’t now. But I’ve not paid much attention to cancellation policies when I book. From now on I’ll keep a spreadsheet or some tab on each and every reservation with a date by which I must cancel, leave nothing to chance.

4) Booking tours-this one I won’t change. I’ll continue to book with Rick Steves. Reading about others getting the run around regarding refunds on their tours reinforces that. I know RSE needs to refund cancellations under state law. But, it’s a standup company. I’m no Pollyanna but I think they would do that anyway, it’s the way they operate. I will say our neighbor had a Viking river cruise for April. They booked everything including air through Viking and got it all back to the penny. If RS could do anything to improve it would be to get involved in air transportation.

What will you do differently? What will you do the same?

Posted by
4835 posts

Alan, I think it depends on what "normal" looks like then. I'm thinking my window of time between booking and travel may shorten considerably. If the airline industry changes significantly, and their customers don't return in numbers sufficient to support them, then we may not have the same kind of choices we've had. Travel insurance seems to be a given, but I would expect the rates will go through the roof and have more limitations, in order to recover their expenses.

Posted by
5522 posts

I will never ever go on any kind of a cruise ship again! We have been on those under 350 passengers in the past, but never again. Those huge, polluting ships disgorging thousands into small ports may be doomed anyway. Perhaps others will feel the same and places like Venice will be saved.
Also, no booking non-refundable hotels rooms, or car rentals. Think of the extra price you must pay as inexpensive insurance.
I probably won’t buy airline tickets so far in advance. I hold tickets to and from Montreal airport for this summer and fall as a way to get to VT. Now the border is closed.

Posted by
9381 posts

Good list, great thread.

We always buy medical evacuations coverage. We have excellent insurance but the need for costly evacuation scares me. I will buy an annual policy, though, before I buy another airfare or book anything significant as the annual policy makes more sense.

We have looked at airfare as an annoyance when plans have to be changed. I will probably still book pretty far in advance when using miles/points but if we are paying out-of-pocket, buy 3 to 4 months out, at most. Unlikely to be “last minute,” i.e., less than 30 days out.

I book reservations that can be cancelled at least 60 days out (common for long stay places) and am OK with having to give up a night’s value if we change plans. I am not comfortable with pre-paying 3, 4, 6 months out so never have and never will. I do a spreadsheet, like you plan to, and also put critical dates in my calendar with a 3 day advance warning of an impending go/no go decision.

We’ve never been on a cruise. Have talked about one to Alaska when we re i our dotage, but even that is not at all appealing these days. Trapped on a ship for who knows how long? Stuff of nightmares.

Posted by
881 posts

Thinking back, except for hail damage on my car and house in 1991 and a few windshield replacements over the years I've never made an insurance claim of any kind. It's not until I discovered this forum about 2 years ago that I even concerned myself with travel insurance any further than knowing that I had travel medical insurance through my work health plan, but if I would have ever needed it, I'm not sure where I would have started.

In the past couple of years I've made a habit of checking my travel insurance before every trip in terms of medical, theft and interruption just to make sure I have a rudimentary knowledge in case something happens and my decision making skills aren't working on all cylinders.

Personally, I'm not all that interested in trip cancellation insurance as the restrictions can be incredibly limiting vs. the value-note this is my opinion for my situation and I'm fully aware there will be other opinions.

I suspect the biggest change I'll make is to check cancellation policies so I have a better understanding of what I may be getting myself into if the need to cancel arises, and then consider my options. I have flights to Scotland in June and London in September and so far WestJet seems to be doing a good job with people that have had to cancel. The airline isn't cancelling beyond 30 days in advance yet and so I haven't concerned myself to this point. I was going to start checking on hotel policies soon but haven't got to it yet.

Posted by
2893 posts

A few times I have gone for the non refundable rate in the past. I will probably think twice about this in the future. I like to arrange things ahead and I may not do that quite as much in the future.

Posted by
7600 posts

Good list!

Non-Refundable rates: I also don't book non-refundable rates but I'll certainly not even be tempted now. I know that some hotels are stepping up to the plate and refunding them anyway which is awesome but it's my responsibility to know how much money I might have to forfeit. I usually book directly with the hotels in question so will continue to do that.

Insurance: I've also always gotten Trip Insurance, mostly for evacuation or repatriation purposes. I've gotten COFAR a few times but if booking thru a responsible tour provider than I don't know that that will be necessary. I'll look at it every time, call the insurance company and discuss with an agent as rules may change on this.

Tour companies: I'm a diehard Rick Steves fan. I did not have a trip booked this year (due to reasons other than COVID19) but his company has really stepped up to the plate and I appreciate it. The other company I book with, Road Scholar, has NOT been as forthcoming with either information or generous cancellation policies. I'll probably still book with them but will take their extra insurance. They seem to be totally disorganized.

Flights: I fly Delta. Book directly thru them. I'll continue to do that but good point about not booking so far in advance.

Cruises: Not a cruise person and would not really have enjoyed one of the big cruises but that's out for sure for now. Even the norovirus outbreaks had me thinking I would never go for one of them.

Posted by
520 posts

As others have said.... But also:
1) I will be watching to see how the airlines and major hotel corporations treat their employees . If any corporations show loyalty to their staff by extending pay, sick leave --- those are who will get my business.
2) will try and book regional or local hotels
3) Milan and Northern Italy and Spain have moved up my list. Inspired by their courage and spirit. Will want to spend my travel dollars to help rebuild their economies.
4) Travel when I can in the budget I can to all the places I can for as long as I can, ( to paraphrase that beautiful Methodist philosophy)
5) Continue to live vicariously thru traveloges

Take care and stay home today for we travel tomorrow!

Posted by
2274 posts

I have never been a huge fan of cruises, but did enjoy a Caribbean cruise. Never again. It would take someone paying me at least double my annual salary to get on a cruise ship now, and I still might refuse.

Cancel for any reason insurance. I always decline this when buying travel insurance unless I know of some specific reason. Now I think I’ll buy it more often.

I might try to book things closer to the travel date but that would be a huge change for me. I’m used to knowing where I’d go close to a year ahead, buying flights 9 months out, and possibly booking hotels shortly thereafter, often with some cancellation penalty. I get insurance that covers normal reasons I’d cancel, and find GREAT places and deals that way. But the insurance doesn’t cover stuff like this. So maybe not worth the risk?

Posted by
6052 posts

I would need to assess the situation on the ground "when this all ends" before giving a credible answer. I have a strong feeling that travel planning/ travel in general will be the least of my worries judging by where the economy is sharply heading (I'm nowhere close to retirement).

Posted by
1084 posts

1.Travel Insurance: probably not buy more than medical and evacuation coverage. And I will read the policy much more carefully no matter what I end up purchasing.
2. Booking flights: like you not buy so far in advance.
3. I had just recently started buying nonrefundable, prepaid hotel rooms. Never again, it's not worth the small amount difference. Even if you do get a voucher or ability to change to a different date, what a hassle.
4. Booking tours; I don't think I will ever again be untrue to Rick. I had a very expensive 3 week tour scheduled this year. They aren't cancelling, they are switching the date to fall 2021 and keeping the deposit and won't refund any money until they have gotten money back from their vendors (good luck with that.)
I was in Wales on September 11th and it was 7 years before I went overseas again. I hope I am a little braver this time.

Posted by
447 posts

Nice paraphrasing Diane, though not sure John Wesley would approve.

I don't see much changing for our household as I'm the travel planner and was already fairly careful (risk averse but nature). We have a Sep trip sked with Tauck ( who is doing a good job taking care of customers) Balance isn't due til July and I know they'll refund/resked if it comes to it. So hoping it won't.

We have a hotel booked for some days after the tour but I made sure it wasn't non-refundable. Airfare thru Delta (who again is doing a good job). I typically book transatlantic pretty far in advance and don't think that will change. I waited longer than I should have this time and ended paying more than planned because I needed at least Premium Select (issues with my knees) but most were sold out when I was ready to book and the remainder were more expensive than planned and lousy timing.

And yes, travel insurance for sure. The type will depend on whether it's a prepaid tour with a company or more independent travel where I can choose refundable reservations.

Posted by
1042 posts

Like so many previous posters, I'd say I won't be in a rush to book early anymore, good price be darned. I'm always booking way ahead, partially because I perceive the price is right, but partially because I'm so excited I want something concrete booked so the trip seems "real". No more. Actually it might be exciting booking things much more last minute than I ever have before!

Not surprised so many of you will avoid cruises. I'm crossing my fingers my booked cruise for November goes (Barcelona to Buenos Aires). I'm not buying airfare home anytime soon, regardless of cost. We already bought airfare to Barcelona, but with a rate that allows changes (for a fee), so I figure if there is travel in November ANYWHERE in Europe, that's what where we'll go). I'm currently trying to recoup the supposedly refundable tour of Rio that I booked for our port day there. I figure I'd better get the refund while they are in operations -- I can always rebook if things turn around by then.

Many of us will pay more attention to our travel insurance options going forward.

Posted by
8479 posts

When this is all over, I will get on a plane and resume my travels. No changes.

Posted by
977 posts

I'll look a little harder at the refund and cancellation policies. To me travel insurance is complicated and it seems there is always some murky clause that allows them to not cover what you thought they would.

Agree that tour operators should be scrutinized for quality on par with RS and Viking.

I'm less inclined to schedule trips during the traditional peaks of cold and flu season, November to perhaps April.

Posted by
227 posts

All great thoughts on future travel. I especially like your thoughts Diane about paying attention to how companies treat not only their customers but also their employees during this time. Those are the ones that will retain or gain my business once travel is again an option! As far as cruises go, our first trip was a week long Mediterranean cruise followed by a week in Northern Italy. The cruise was a great way to get around for inexperienced international travelers. It not only made moving from place to place a no brainer, we didn't have to handle our luggage for that week. It also gave us the confidence to venture out on our own. It was a great experience, but that being said, it limits the time you spend in each location and we will unlikely cruise again. Here's hoping that this ends sooner rather than later. Be safe everyone!

Posted by
63 posts

I’m not changing much about our travel planning.

We’ll continue to buy our annual travel insurance. I’ve filed various claims in the past and have had good experience getting reimbursed. I’m spending our 14 day self-quarantine filing ins claims for the most recent cancelled flights and tour. We’ll see how that goes.

We’ll continue to book our RS tours far enough in advance to take advantage of early bird discounts. Our RS Basque tour in Oct is currently waitlisted so I’m guessing no one is bailing yet.

Never been on a cruise and not going on one ever.

I’ve always booked refundable lodging. Past experience had taught me it’s worth it.

We won’t change how we fly. The over water leg (5+ hrs or more) is always on miles/points since we fly business. We pay for and fly economy for anything less than 4 hours.

Posted by
318 posts

I won’t change much, will continue to book my flights. I’m also feel the trip doesn’t seem real until I have my flight booked.

I’ve booked all of our refundable tours already and paid. I know when the dates are to cancel, but DH says “what is they go bankrupt”? So, that will be one area I will most likely hold off on until it gets closer. Boy, I hope these tours company stay in business. I’ve prepaid $2k for the 4 of us.

Posted by
4835 posts

I think one good service that RS could provide in the mid-future, is to give periodic updates on the status of tourism infrastructure in Europe so as to help know what things look like. I'd hate to start planning a trip to Italy, for example, if they're still recovering or restaurants and hotels are not ready. With a bunch of eyes on the ground there, they would have good information.

Realistically, future travel depends on the condition of the 401K (retirement savings), inflation, and the cost of travel in a radically changed airline environment. I'm not going to assume that everything will be the same as it was before.

Posted by
2753 posts

I doubt I'll change much, if anything. I've never bought travel insurance of any kind, and don't plan on doing so, at least for the near future. I've also never gone on a tour, and don't plan on changing that. I usually book air travel well in advance, and will continue to do so. And since I rarely book nonrefundable stays (except for Gites de France deposits), I don't need to change that. For our scheduled trip next month to France, all we've lost is a couple of hundred dollars for our GDF reservations. Our 2 AirBnB nights were refunded in full, as was our car rental through AutoEurope. Our airfare will wind up either being rebooked or refunded. And our French friend we were planning on spending a few nights with doesn't charge a cancellation fee:-)

Posted by
881 posts

In most cases the first thing I book is the flights as soon as I find a deal I'm happy with and then let the hotels and any other pre-trip costs fall into line as I find what I want; this process usually starts a year in advance. For our trip to England about 18 months ago I found the flights about 11 months in advance but I waited to book hotels until about 7 months before our trip and many of my first choices were already booked in London and the Cotswolds. Last year for our RS trip, the tour ended in Nice the weekend after the Monaco Grand Prix and even 10 months in advance some places were sold out. It's because of these situations that i can't imagine not continuing to book early.

Posted by
20550 posts

I think it is far too early to make many decisions. At this time we would not anticipate any major changes in our travel patterns given that we are already following many of the up-thread recommendations. We will still get on cruise ships as we have three booked this year and next. We know what works for us and while this current crises is unpredictable, it too shall pass.

Posted by
51 posts

I will only book on Rick Steves. I am currently embroiled in a very distressing situation with Women Traveling Together and my trip to Holland & Belgium April 14-April 25. They were very slow to cancel the tour unlike RS Tour's lightening speed decision making and we are still waiting on if they will allow us to transfer to another tour. Refunds do not seem likely. Never again with these people.

I will not book airfare so early in the future. I will most likely get a refund from Delta when they cancel my Tampa-Amsterdam flight, so I've dodged a bullet there. However, I booked this ticket back in September 2019 so if I would have had to cancel I normally would have only had a year from them to use the credit. Now they have extended using ticket vouchers to December 31, 2020, but still? Who is realistically going to be able to do that?

I will not book non-refundable hotel rooms and I will only get travel insurance for medical coverage and evacuation. Buying travel insurance is like gambling in Vegas and the odds are always stacked against you. Look at all of the exclusions they have and they were sure quick to add COVID-19! Disgusting.

Posted by
881 posts

I'm surprised by the end of 2020 deadline I'm hearing from people, my airline of choice whenever possible is WestJet which is Canada's 2nd largest airline. I was checking into their current policies because of the virus and they are allowing cancellations and providing a credit valid for the next 24 months, cancellations can be made up to 2 hours before your flight. Currently the policy is only for flights up until the end of April, but it seems to be a liquid deadline and the date changes as the travel ban continues.

Posted by
918 posts

I've never bought travel insurance before and intended to buy just the medical evacuation type insurance. The main reason is that my apt. rental in Budapest had a very small deposit of $72usd and I haven't had to give a deposit yet for Amsterdam, which will be quite a bit more but could be lost without too much distress and would probably be applied to a later trip. I don't know, I haven't asked that question of her yet but shall.

We are signed up for a RS tour this fall and if it's on, we'll go. If not, we'll get a refund so not worried about that.

I still haven't bought plane tickets but intend to do so probably before the end of the month. Delta seems to be treating people pretty well on their reschedule policy but I continued to wait for a bit longer. Now I'm seeing some pretty good prices for what I want and probably ought to jump on those. Since we're retired we can travel whenever we want as long as the borders are open and it is safe to do so, so the plane tickets would still be used.

I have not reserved our before tour hotels but will definitely be booking a refundable room.

Posted by
2286 posts

I will never again take being able to travel for granted.
And we have never taken a cruise and now never will.

Posted by
4042 posts

Very little change to our travel future after this virus passes.

I rarely book non-refundable hotels or B&Bs.
I usually purchase insurance with airfare and tours.
We will continue to cruise, favoring transatlantic cruises from Europe to the USA, after doing a land tour (usually on our own) in Europe. We have one booked for Oct 2021, which should be fine.

Posted by
5017 posts

The only change I'll make is that I will try to travel more often.

Life is short, you never know when your number is up. Don't put off until "someday" the things that make your life meaningful, because "someday" might come too late. Hug your loved ones and be good to everyone.

Posted by
156 posts

I will probably book train tickets a little closer to the travel date rather than trying to get the very best price. And I like to cruise occasionally and will now only book cabins with a balcony.

Posted by
5228 posts

Probably not much -- I already book only fully cancellable accomodations (and note the cancellation dates), seldom reserve tours / entertainment in advance. Use credit card (CSR) for trains and planes so have trip cancellation/interruption/medevac insurance for ordinary reasons. Betting that this was a black swan occurrence.
Might try a river cruise if the price is right -- and possibly insure for that prepaid expense.
We had to cancel / rebook / revise on the fly in December because of the French train strike -- not exactly the trip we planned, but worked out fine.

Posted by
3085 posts

It is useless to think travel will return to what it was just a few short weeks ago any time soon. I hope it does recover enough to allow normal free movement as soon as possible. The world economy depends on it.

Only a few small changes for me.

I have always purchased insurance for my trips. I will probably pay more attention to exactly what is covered and buy the more comprehensive plans.

I never was one to buy too far in advance. I have always worked in jobs where knowing when I could take off was not something that was clear until closer to the actual time off, so no booking of arrangements a year in advance. I was good to get things booked a month before departure. This meant I sometimes had take my second choice for tours or other accommodations, but I never felt I missed out on anything nor did I ever seem to pay a significant premium of flights or hotels by waiting. I will continue this booking practice even though I am retired now and can go practically whenever I want (once travel returns to a more normal process of course).

Non refundable hotels was something I never bought. At the hotels I generally stay at, the advance purchase non-refundable options are not a significant savings over their fully cancelable no advance payment rooms like the AAA rate for example. I never found any reason to get any other type of rate. Same with rental cars. An average of $20 difference for the entire rental period, which is what I normally found, just never was enough to make it sensible to pre pay for a rental car and lose the flexibility.

Finally, I will pay closer attention to what is going on in the entire world, not just the specific destination I am heading toward, to hopefully notice something like this happening so I don't get caught and stuck half way around the world with no way home.

EDIT: The most important thing I forgot to mention. I will be taking at least a full month's worth medications with me over and beyond what I will need for the trip. Hopefully I will never have to use it, but it will at least give me time to find an alternate source if I am stuck out somewhere and I won't be going without.

Posted by
295 posts

My only change would be to not buy plane tickets as far in advance as I have in the past. I usually buy them a minimum of 5-6 months before the trip. I always get refundable hotel reservations. I buy trip insurance in case I have to cancel for a medical reason and for medical (including evacuation) coverage. I'm still hoping to take a solo trip to Amsterdam and Belgium in September 2020, but I am not ready to buy plane tickets yet.
I, too, will not take the ability to travel for granted now.

Posted by
883 posts

I may be more careful with accommodations (apartments) but that could also change at the other end. In the past I’ve booked a number of places in Germany and France which required payment in cash upon arrival: they might think twice now.

Posted by
693 posts

I think the only change might be not booking my flights SO far in advance. A lesson I really should have learned already.

We rarely take travel insurance - once when my mom was sick in case I needed to get home early. I've used the trip insurance on my credit card in the past and it worked great for what I needed.

We cruise and probably will continue but 90% of our trips are not cruises. Usually cruise when it's a family and/or friends group cruise.

Posted by
23 posts

Probably (and hopefully) not much ...

Travel insurance - will be sure to read all the fine print closer ... never had to use it and hopefully will never have to but would be good to know what they will cover ... probably typical insurance company though, everything is excluded somehow and it will be a fight to get anything back

Flights - I work for a major airline, so I fly stand-by ... trust me, it sounds great that you can go just about anywhere anytime for relatively cheap but the anxiety and stress can be pretty high sometimes ... needless to say I never check bags so have to fit everything into 2 small carry-ons

Cruise - wife had no desire to go on a cruise even before this mess so no change here

Hotels - I always book refundable due to the possibility of not getting to where I want to go ... I keep a spreadsheet with every hotel and cancel date, car reservations, museum/attraction tickets, etc... and take printed copies of everything (ok boomer)

Sights/attractions - for a popular sight that has an admission, I will usually go ahead and get my entry tickets ahead of time ... if I'm travelling half way around the world and will probably never go there again, I want to be sure I see the sights so to me it's worth the gamble

Posted by
18 posts

Alan, you said "Turns out the policy I have for the RS tour has an exclusion on page 41 (really) that says no coverage for losses if a tour provider cancels, So RS might cancel but I’m on my own for all the other expenses, the largest of which is airfare."

Do you mind sharing what insurance company you used?

Thanks, and thanks for starting a very interesting thread.

Posted by
1834 posts

We are some of the rare geeks that actually read travel insurance policies (sometimes a few to compare) , tour, whatever contractual details in advance of booking. That will continue to be done going forward.

For perspective, we have traveled a lot in a variety of ways: group tours, small ship cruises, expedition trips, independent travel....7 continents and several islands. Friends and family were always asking where we had been/what was planned next. Travel philosophy has always been: do your homework, plan in great detail, have reasonable contingency plans and roll with it/adjust as necessary. We read a lot and stay abreast of news around the world, especially places to which we have traveled or to places we planned to travel. So, that gives you some background as I share the following:

Last week I said to my spouse, "You know, I think I am absolutely fine with never traveling again." (Spouse said he thinks I will change my mind...likely I will.) But, those words came out of my mouth nonetheless!!

I am enough of a control freak, that I will likely plan more independent travel (as much as I have loved group tours). But, even though we have not traveled much in the last two years, I have been absorbing what more active travelers have recently gone through or are STILL going thru. It would stress me out with a large deposit for a group tour, knowing the world will not return to normal in a flash, and having to wait for the tour provider to finally decide to call off the tour (thereby finally allowing a refund). I would not want the uncertainly of just a credit for 2021.....until there is some sort of vaccine that is determined to be effective, it is my opinion we will see peaks/valleys with the virus for a while. While we have enjoyed small ship cruises and expedition ships.......truly enjoyed those and the people we met......I am not so certain I am ready to go on any ship that could be left at sea, trying to find a country that would allow it to dock, or be in a situation where we were forced to remain on ship due to the illnesses of others.

Part of enjoying travel is knowing yourself, knowing what you would find pleasant and what you would not. While, make it clear, none of us knows what might happen in the world at any point of time. Hurricanes happen, earthquakes happen, fires happen, tornadoes happen...........those things can happen at home or can happen at faraway destinations. But, when things happen, it is my desire to have as much personal control as possible, to be able to react with some agility.

I guess I will use the comparison of traveling carry-on vs. checked bags. Why does Rick tell us to travel carry-on? Easier, allows you to be more agile, change plans quickly, not to have to wait, etc. To answer your question, I will seek to have the most personal flexibility as possible with any future travel. Hope that makes sense. The ability to change for independent bookings for two people vs. waiting for a decision of a provider for an entire group, will add to my future comfort level. I MIGHT at some point do another group arrangement, but right now, after reading everyone else's uncertain experiences, it just does not appeal to me for the foreseeable future.

EDIT: some of our very best adventures were journeys we booked with a week or two notice...Antarctica, Iceland/Greenland, Ireland, Australia/NZ. So, sometimes waitlisting and being ready to go (if you have that flexibility) can be a good thing.

Posted by
2269 posts

Do you mind sharing what insurance company you used?

Travelex Basic Comprehensive

Posted by
15 posts

I will try to keep my itineraries simpler. Right now I'm going to end up with credits from 4 different airlines, a major cruise line and an overnight ferry. All of these things were booked for a month long journey through multiple countries. It's going to be difficult to put all those "moving parts" back together into a single journey before they expire so I may end up loosing the value of some of them. Fortunately, I always book refundable hotel rooms. Going forward I will be even more inclined to support smaller, family owned inns. I will also read my trip insurance policy more carefully. I thought I was always pretty careful with that but apparently I was not careful enough! I think the travel insurance companies should be required to provide us with a list of current "named" things that they are not covering at the time we buy.

Posted by
1397 posts

Just to make sure that I have at least an extra month’s worth of meds

Posted by
977 posts

Dr. Fauci said COVID-19 may be seasonal, meaning it could return during the flu season November-April. Until there's a vaccine it may be wise to consider other times of the year when colds, flus, and viruses are less of a factor.

Posted by
693 posts

Blockquote

Until there's a vaccine it may be wise to consider other times of the year when colds, flus, and viruses are less of a factor.

Mostly high season which some shoulder season - ugh

Posted by
955 posts

We always travel with a "Plan B" meaning we have a back up plan if we need to leave the country/town/location ASAP due to whatever, we know where our passports are (hopefully on us, maybe we cant even get back to the hotel) , have enough cash on us, have a credit card with an available balance that will allow us to purchase airfare or another form of transportation.

Now I will never convince my husband to take a cruise, was hoping to get him to Mexico that way (he is a hard No on Mexico due to crime) and I would never want to do a Resort so we will see.

Posted by
2650 posts

Once there is a vaccine I plan to blitz some places that were highly trafficked and enjoy them without the crowds.

I'll never pay to upgrade a seat on a plane separately from the initial purchase because getting a refund is onerous or impossible, even if the flight is canceled and the base fare is returned.

Posted by
318 posts

Ok, I just realized something. I purchased my airline tickets on January 18, 2020. Trip is in September. If cancelled, I thought I had until January 17, 2021 to rebook them....not have finished traveling!

That’s crazy. I don’t want to travel in winter. So, that is one thing I will change. Not buying my tickets so far out.

I Understand the airline bailout (it’s not their fault), but they need to help bail out their passengers....give us more time to rebook. I booked with Delta.

Posted by
52 posts

No more reservations more than a month out. There may be fewer choices and we may pay more, but it is better than this agonizing wait for tours and flights to be cancelled. Big lesson that travel insurance does not pay for pandemics. And the "cancel for any reason" only pays 50%.

Posted by
55 posts

I don’t think I’ll make any major changes to how I plan travel, though I may change how I execute it. I already carefully consider how any non-refundable plans I make will affect my budget and weigh the risks and benefits. I already buy insurance (trip, baggage, medical). I already have back up plans for my back up plans, for which I credit growing up with MacGyver and being through a couple of disasters in person already. I’ve definitely been dealing with travel anxiety dreams/nightmares that include a situation like this for years.

The coronavirus situation has reinforced some things I already do, especially one-bag travel. The thought of having to lug baggage or choose what to abandon is not a happy one. If anything, it will encourage me to get my 30L down to 25L (a long-term goal) sooner rather than later. Additionally, I suspect I will be more vigilant about paper maps and hard copies of important phone numbers and addresses. I try to do these things now, but airline apps, Google maps, and TripIt have spoiled me in the age of free internet nearly worldwide on my mobile.

Posted by
52 posts

One thing we already do that I think everyone should do: when we start planning a trip or we have an interest in a new destination, we start following proposed destination(s) local news on a daily basis, either online or watch on Roku, etc.

Posted by
69 posts

I have to admit that when the cruise ships turned into petri dishes I added yet another reason I would never take one. O.k. I will admit that is a confirmation bias on my part.

We signed up for a trek on April 1, 2019. At the time my intuition told me it was an inauspicious date to pay a travel deposit. Tomorrow, April 1, 2020 we were to be boarding a flight to Kathmandu by way of Korea and Bangkok. New rule: don't sign up for a trip a year in advance.

Posted by
408 posts

I am a man solo traveler. My trip to Spain is in October, unless I cancel it. I bought my tickets in January, before the pandemic started dominating the news and the lock downs and travel restrictions started. I understand that certain tickets have to be purchased in advance. For previous trips, I bought my plane tickets 6 to ten month in advance. There has always been and always will be a chance of needing to cancel a trip at the last minute due to many reasons - war, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, volcano, floods, riots, fires, dictator takes over a country and the country becomes unsafe for people of Jewish heritage, meteorite impact, dictator takes over the USA and bans Jews from returning to the USA (the few Jew from 4 countries in North Africa are not allowed to return to their home country again if they visit Israel) ; we always knew there is such a thing as outbreaks of contagious diseases (Ebola, influenza, malaria, cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, zika virus, an earlier form of sudden acute respiratory syndrome that I vaguely remember hearing made travel to Toronto a problem, middle east respiratory syndrome, and others I am not thinking of now), we just didn't think much of contagious disease and travel before the current pandemic. I had heard of getting shots before travel ...

I never bought travel insurance. I could be wrong for not getting it.... My great grandfather with my same last name had a heart attack and died when he was 39. I haven't outlived him yet. I just outlived a grandfather, who got amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and died when her was 36 and 7 months. It has occurred to me in the past that I have no clue what to do if one of my parents develops a serious disease and/or has an accident, shortly before a future trip I will have planned.

Posted by
977 posts

The models seem to show a remission of COVID-19 during the summer and early fall, and then return in the late fall. No big surprise here. I've been on one cruise and it was OK. I'd be hesitant to go on another one as it is a petri dish of people jammed in to a small area. It's a new world now.

Posted by
361 posts

Models shmodels. I can't put any stock in anything beyond a day or two of where things might go. I'm remembering the whole hoohaa when the world went from 1999 to 2000. The banking system was going to crash, computers weren't supposed to work, air traffic control would be chaos, people should hoard cash, food, water (...don't remember anything about TP though). After the billions spent on transitioning computers to work in the new world order, Im pretty sure I remember the sun coming up on Jan 1 2000.

To answer Alans question directly, I really don't plan on doing anything different. I still won't sign up for a cruise, I still won't sign up for an organized tour. I will use up all the prepaid room, air and car bookings I moved to September '20 from our April '20 Greece/Italy trip, and I will continue saving between now and then and after that, towards our Russia/Italy trip Spring 2021.

Posted by
1397 posts

Since my husband and I are both retiring July 1, we will be in a better position travel wise. We will continue to travel independently but will do so with a shorter lead time. We won’t have to plan months, or even a year in advance.

Posted by
1913 posts

For years I have been on the fence about taking a European cruise - either ocean or river, but I'm afraid that ship has sailed, to coin a phrase.

Posted by
881 posts

For years I have been on the fence about taking a European cruise -
either ocean or river, but I'm afraid that ship has sailed, to coin a
phrase.

We've taken a couple of ocean cruises in the past and honestly, I'll have no fear of doing it again. It's been no secret for years that the ships have to be careful with its sanitary requirements. My cruising experience isn't extensive but there has always been noticeable measures in place including small details such as spraying your hands with sanitizer before you enter the buffet areas. We've never even caught a sniffle from a cruise.

Posted by
6383 posts

no changes as long as the Norwegian and Wow airline low cost transatlantic of the world stick around
I have been successful getting cheap airline tickets with legacy and those low cost airlines booking everything non refundable directly and indirectly and no more than 3 months in advance over the last 5 years; same with train tickets and hotel stays no problems booking directly or indirectly ever

Posted by
10149 posts

What is the basis for the assumption that the virus will end? Or that it will not be seasonal? Is it possible this is the end of travel as we have known it?

Posted by
326 posts

Just an observation to those comparing this to Y2K and using that as an example of over blown hype.
The media did tend to play up what COULD go wrong. I will give you that. Vs how good a job we did preventing it. But that is the way the news is. Doom and gloom attract more viewers then sunshine and roses. As they say if it bleeds it leads.
But that Y2K mess they predicted easily could have happened. The reason it didn’t was that a huge number of computer professionals put in a ton of time to fix it before it happened. Buisnesses don’t spend millions/billions fixing a problem that does not exist.
I remember we (I was doing computer work back then) ran a test about a year before Y2K and set the date to flip and NOTHING worked. All sorts of stuff went wrong in that test and a check printing system (large company, huge computer system, all to bring tens of thousands of checks a day) would not print ANYTHING nor take in any new data. The company spent 3 years and a staff of 12 just working on prevention and had about 20 others working on it part time.

So it was not a hoax. It was something that a lot of folks did a VERY good job of heading off.
Think of it this way. Your mechanic tells you your breaks are about to fail. You have him fix them. Then you drive for the next two years without a break failure. Would you then sit back saying your breaks were fine and your mechanic cheated you because your breaks didn’t fail? Of course not.

Y2K and (hopefully) this virus are like that. We took steps to minimize the issues. In Y2Ks case we did a great job and problems we’re almost non existent. We can only hope that we did a good enough job this time. But based on the numbers we are seeing it doesn’t look like we did a good enough job.
I promise you unless we get hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US some folks will scream it was pointless and didn’t need to be done just as some folks still say about Y2K. But in both cases they are wrong.

As for changes if we hit high numbers of fatalities (heaven forbid) then I think we will see radical changes as the shock will effect the collective psyche but if the numbers stay relatively low we will see little change other then the economic issues which will be large enough as it is.

But this all assumes we get this under control. That being said I would not be surprised if we see masks become common like they are in parts of Asia.

The problem is that Airtravel is so fast and easy that you can spread anything anywhere in less then a day. And if this virus is bad enough that may be viewed very differently in the future. Let us hope it won’t come to that but truly it is way way to early to predict. As we don’t know how this wave will end much less what will happen after this. Will this go away? Will it return once or twice? Will it be semi permanent? Will we have a vaccine to fight it? Who knows.
But if I had to guess I would say we will see an increase in some steps to prevent disease spread, better screening, more emphatic on vaccinations and steps to clean aircraft and ships and such. And at the same time you will see some folks that are effected by these new procedures saying they are pointless. It is just human nature.
Some folks will over react, Some will bitch about whatever changes are made. The government will put in policies to make most folks feel good and companies will try to minimize cost while using it as an excuse to raise prices and cut service.
So basically same old same old.

Posted by
2650 posts

I'll never pay to upgrade a seat on a plane separately from the initial purchase because getting a refund is onerous or impossible

This refund finally came through 2-1/2 weeks after requesting it.

Posted by
55 posts

Douglas, thank you for posting this:

But that Y2K mess they predicted easily could have happened. The reason it didn’t was that a huge number of computer professionals put in a ton of time to fix it before it happened. Buisnesses don’t spend millions/billions fixing a problem that does not exist.

You beat me to it! The "conventional wisdom" take that Y2K didn't exist drives me crazy on behalf of all the people like you who spent millions of person-hours making sure it didn't break every system.

Posted by
1834 posts

Yep, the best, most effective leadership takes place when a problem does NOT happen.

Posted by
8 posts

My RS tour was only cancelled on Tuesday, and RS has already communicated a couple of times. Just had a note from Delta today that they will hold the ecredit until May 2022! I've been pleased with their responses. Agree that I will observe how companies handle this crisis and will work with those who treat their employees and customers well. Of course, Rick is one of the best, and I would book again as soon as it seems reasonable. I had good experience with the hotels on the RS tour, prompt responses and will refund (extra days).

Posted by
1477 posts

So maybe I am a risk taker, but....

I am still going to book airfare long in advance if I get a good deal. I am looking at a $300 airfare for a flight to Europe this fall. (I have not booked and am not sure I will so this is food for thought).

So let's say that I can't make the flight and it's my decision and the airline doesn't do anything (It's on Delta, the "change fee is $250 LOL!) I am out $300. But let's say in July I decide "it's safe to travel so I am going to book now" and the flight is now $1,000. My Decision to hold off just cost me $700. Based on that if I find a great bargain and think I might be able to go I may just gamble the $300. I'd rather lose $300 than $700 :). Same deal with train fare. Last trip I paid $39 from London to Paris. I checked a few days before to see if I could change my train $129. So I will continue to risk $39. It's not going to bankrupt me and the savings are enough that to me it's worth the risk.

As for hotels I generally don't book "Non-refundable" until a few days before I go. So if as I am heading to the airport the "non-refundable" is available I might switch over. I did an apartment rental on my last trip and the apartment itself was fine but... I decided that for me I prefer a hotel. As a solo traveler I felt just too isolated in the apartment so I probably won't have to address that 'cancellation risk' for a while.

I don't currently do tours except from individual guides and often those are paid in cash when you get there so the risk is low.

Several years ago on a Girl Scout tour I discovered why I will NEVER again travel without travel insurance. We had to take a 70 year old chaperone to a local hospital. The care was "free", it was also "rationed". We were told "take her back to the hotel and pump pain meds into her for that broken shoulder" When a nurse with us asked about surgery to prevent "lost off mobility" we were told "she's 70, she just has to live with that" Because she had insurance I was able to get her care transferred to a private hospital in the area who worked with the insurance company to get her home where she had surgery, PT and regained full mobility! I don't want to be at the mercy of "rationed free" :) (There's a reason there are private hospitals in a lot of European cities). I will make sure they don't exclude a "pandemic" for medical care because I think this thing will be back. I am not worried about insurance for covering the cost of the trip, just getting me home if I am sick.

Oh I am NOT getting on a floating virus factory for a LONG LONG time if ever For vacations where I want to lay around and get service I will do an all inclusive. I did one of those early in March. Absolutely no problems. 8 of us were there, we all got home as scheduled and no one 3 weeks later is sick. While I know a virus could hit them too, you have a LOT more space and you aren't going to spend months in a tiny 200 square foot room without any idea of how you will ever get out of it! Sorry Charlie, I am not cruising. (Personally I do hope this cuts WAY down on cruises to Venice which would be such a great help there!)

Posted by
21 posts

No changes.

I will still book 3 months in advance and I will still book non-refundable hotels if they give a decent discount.

Most people will travel again, but some will remain Frozen in fear.

Interestingly, since governmental stay-at-home edics were issued, it's been the 60 plus baby-boomer---most susceptible--crowd I have witnessed that most ignore the orders.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen them in Lowe's and Home Depot walking around in circles--not buying anything--- with nothing to do.

That makes me believe they will be right back on the planes as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted. Bet on it. Who should blame them though? They really have nothing to lose.

Posted by
8479 posts

I can't tell you how many times I've seen them in Lowe's and Home Depot walking around in circles--not buying anything--- with nothing to do.

And what are you doing in Lowe's and Home Depot? Ignoring the orders?

Posted by
1834 posts

Frank 11, Home Depot and Lowes are essential vendors......selling water heaters, toilet replacement parts, roofing material, appliances, cleaning products, lawn mowers/equipment, etc...............all number of things that are essential to keeping a house in good order and functioning during this health crisis. Poster just ahead was likely either buying something like that or, perhaps, is one of the dear souls working so the rest of us can. Let's not judge. Lots of people in Tennessee are frequenting them after the huge tornado........imagine having a damaged home, PLUS now this! (But, I will agree that if someone is in there just for the social outing.....noooooo! One of our neighbors is dying to go grocery shopping at Walmart, because he enjoys the social outing of it all.....he's 88, and is wife who is 87 keep telling him NO (they have a son around the corner and a housekeeper and us looking after them...they will not starve........he's just bored.............no circles in Home Depot for him!!!!

Posted by
1477 posts

"And what are you doing in Lowe's and Home Depot? Ignoring the orders?"

And what are you doing? Passing judgement without any facts? How do you know the poster isn't (A) an employee, (B) a repair person who will come replace your hot water heater when it blows in the middle of this mess or otherwise "essential"?

As someone with friends in middle Tennessee I can tell you that they are at Home Depot and Lowe's. Coronavirus or not they need a roof, they need a toliet etc... they are putting their homes back together !