The Ultimate Advice for Planning a Trip Without Losing Money
That’s the one thing you need to do with EVERY (yes, all-caps-italic-it-is-that-important) aspect of the future amazing trip you’re planning for the family.
I’m not talking about class presentation levels of research. This is the kind of research that might feel like a lot of legwork at first but then you’ll thank me later.
I’ve got a newsflash for you fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types–you can’t really fly by the seat of your pants right now. More importantly, you shouldn’t.
And even if you fall under the borderline-obsessive (hollatchergurl!) planning type, times have changed to where our planning and preparation has evolved, so I still encourage you to read ahead.
Win by researching…
So you’ve figured out where you want to go when “things go back to normal,” ish. What’s next? Book that flight? Nawp, unless you’re in the mood for heartache and pain (isn’t that a song?) and stress that you really don’t need in your life right now.
Find out when your dream resort or hotel:
- plans to reopen itself to visitors,
- what measures they’re putting in place to keep their patrons safe,
- whether they have new requirements for future visitors, and
- what their cancellation and rescheduling policies are right now.
The first three items are pretty straightforward and easy enough to find out; usually, they’ll have all this on their website. But if you can’t find info about the last item, call or email them.
Yes, this step seems extra in a different timeline. But the facts are that travel plans get upended right and left right now so it’s not just expected to ask about cancellation and rescheduling policies–it’s also prudent.
Back in 2018 when I had to cancel our babymoon in Cabo due to being bedridden, I took a chance and emailed the hotel to explain my medical emergency. Without any negotiations, I got a full refund and warm wishes from their reservations team.
I can’t tell you what a sigh of relief it was that I didn’t have to worry about fighting with someone on the phone over getting my money back.
Believe it or not, there are a bunch of airline Summer sales going on right now, despite everything that’s going on. But don’t get lured by rock-bottom fares right away.
Now is the time to read the fine print to see whether or not the ticket you’re purchasing can be rescheduled for a later time. Usually, there’s a Terms & Conditions section on the same offer page, and I highly recommend you take a few minutes to peruse it.
Under the current circumstances, the chances of flights getting suddenly canceled are still very high. This is because there are significantly fewer airplanes on tarmacs and rules for accepting visitors are still in flux, for states within the US and even for other countries.
But the US Department of Transportation’s passenger protection policy states that “a passenger is entitled to a refund if an airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the passenger chooses not to travel.”
Also, you’re entitled to a refund if the airline makes a significant schedule change that delays your flight, and that ultimately leads you to decide against traveling. Fair warning, though–the DoT doesn’t have clear cut rules as to what constitutes a “significant delay.”
Yep, the weather. This goes hand in hand with researching your location. Just search for “best month (/time) to visit [your destination],” and click on the first two or three top hits that your search engine returns.
One year, I booked a family trip to Cancun in October so our toddler could enjoy the beach but avoid the Spring Break crowd. In reading these travel blogs, I knew coming in that there was a chance of light showers during that month, so we packed foldable umbrellas and didn’t pre-book a lot of excursions, choosing to go with the flow once we got there instead.
So while there were a couple of days that we had to stay indoors for a few hours, we weren’t caught off-guard and the family just hung out at the resort until the rain let up. We were also still able to enjoy our trip because we scheduled it right before the full-blown rainy season.
If you do a search for “[destination] weather [month] [year],” a number of reliable sites will pop up where you can see the projected weather for your target month. I just searched for Cancun weather Oct 2020 and this Accuweather page gave me the full month’s projection, plus the ability to view other months’ predictions.
The last thing you need right now is to plan a trip and time it wrong. Everything’s extra complicated right now, so checking out optimal months to visit is literally a 10-minute exercise that will save you from having future headaches.
Look. Everything’s pretty much up in the air right now, which is why research is your friend. You want to make sure your plans and the businesses with whom you choose to make travel plans remain as flexible as you during these times. To prevent future stress and heartache, lay the groundwork that allows you to reschedule your trip for a later date in case we’re all–again–prevented from traveling.
If you have any questions about this article or if you need a virtual hand to hold while making your future travel plans, I’m here for you! Drop me a line and I’d be more than happy to help.
Billy Gozum is the Founder and CEO of Urban Tykes, a community of parents helping each other overcome travel anxiety by providing peer-to-peer baby gear rentals. In response to our community’s most urgent needs, we’ve temporarily converted our site to a platform where people who need help running errands can find neighbors who can help. All of our commissions during this time are donated to Project Hope Alliance, which is helping homeless children stay fed and educated.