You have spent hours planning in your head, on paper or even on a very in-depth spreadsheet for your next trip. You talk through all the options (flights, hotels, attractions etc) with your travel companion(s). Your budget is allocated. Bookings are made. The excitement builds. The time nears. And then your travel plans are cancelled or you have to cancel them – UGH! Can you believe that this has happened to us 3 times in the past year? From cancelled flights to the illness of a relative to the latest – unfinished home renovations. Now, maybe because we take so many flights per year, 3 cancelled trips in the grand scheme of things isn’t that many. However, in 12 years of travelling together, it has NEVER happened before so the 3 times it has happened in the past year have been frustrating, to say the least.
First World Problem?
I completely understand that it is a first world problem and something I shouldn’t be whining about after all these things happen and life goes on. However, every time it has happened we have lost a varying amount of money and that’s just not cool. We work hard to be able to travel. It is a luxury that we prioritise in our lives and something we enjoy. Therefore, being left out of pocket, especially when it is because of someone or something else leaves a bitter taste.
Just look at all the problems at Gatwick last week – all those people disrupted because of someone else and their stupid and selfish actions (if there ever was a drone, to begin with of course). Many left in limbo because all airport hotels were fully booked, airlines were not supporting their passengers and insurance companies were unwilling to assist. It is, however, important to note that the Gatwick incident happened with no notice and was unprecedented. Therefore, people didn’t have the opportunity to put things in place to mitigate the effect of the delays – they were simply left in limbo – for days. Many who were, in fact, flying home for Christmas, unsure if they would be able to make the journey at all.
Luckily for us, we have always had at least a day’s notice if we have had a trip cancelled or if we’ve needed to cancel a trip. And now because of our previous misfortunes and loss of cash, we put things in place (when possible) to ensure that the money we lose should the trip not go ahead be minimal. We hope these help you and your future bookings.
One of the most obvious and important things to have is the correct level of travel insurance. We always take out an international annual policy which means we then only have to worry about renewing it once a year and it covers everywhere in the world we visit. If you plan on undertaking extreme sports (i.e. winter sports) while on holiday, it’s important to ensure your policy covers that. Most policies cover death, injury, illness of the policyholder however a lot also cover close family members too – spouse, parent, sibling etc. Therefore if something happens to one of them you should be able to claim from your insurance company. At the beginning of 2018 I had to cancel a trip because my nana was seriously ill in hospital – unfortunately my policy did not cover grandparents. In fact, I am yet to find one that does.
Pay on Arrival Hotels
More often than not use Booking.com when booking hotels and many of the hotels on their system offer pay on arrival. We are guilty of booking hotels a year in advance just in case we take the trip and then cancel it if we cannot stay nearer the time. This has saved us a fortune over the years. It has come in very handy when our travel plans have been cancelled too. Remember last year when the ‘airline who shall not be named’ cancelled a bazillion of their flights? Well, our flights to and from Luxembourg were included. We received the cancellation email a mere 24 hours before we were due to fly. Luckily I had booked a pay on arrival hotel which could be cancelled up until the day of arrival. Therefore, saving us having to pay for the hotel and having to recoup via the airline.
Flight Cancellation Policies
We only came across last week when we were booking flights to Dubai. Basically, if you pay a small amount (in this case £16 per return flight) then you can cancel your flight at any time for any reason and get a full refund. I found this on Opodo, however, a number of companies offer the same. It is basically an additional, and flight-specific insurance policy. As we have never taken it out before we have always lost the cost of our flights (max £75 each). However, as the return flights to Dubai were £330 per person and we now have a proven track record of cancelling flights, it seemed sensible to spend the extra £16 just in case. Obviously, the more you spend on your flights the more you risk losing. Therefore, you need to weigh up whether the additional insurance is worth it.
Book Last Minute
We love planning our trips as far in advance as possible. This does, however, mean we run a greater risk of having to cancel, or them being cancelled on us. Therefore the most obvious way of not falling foul of this and losing money is to book last minute. This is easier said than done for a number of people, that includes us. As the saying goes ‘the early bird catches the worm’ which is quite often the case, especially when it comes to package holidays. This means that if you leave things until just before you plan to go you may end up paying more than if you had booked months before. Or you may be lucky and get a great late availability deal. Again, something you need to weigh up. Especially if there’s a chance that you may need to cancel and if your nerves can handle it.
Sell Your Flights
Again, another new one that we have come across recently. Obviously, if you have picked yourself up a bargain budget airline flight then you may not make anything from selling it/them on. However, if you have spent a small fortune on some international flights then selling your flight(s) if you can’t take it/them, could mean you can recoup some of the money you have paid out. For example, companies like Transfer Travel (no affiliation) offer a marketplace service where you can list your pre-booked and none refundable flights, accommodation, transport etc in the hope of selling them on and making a bit of your cash back. They do take a 15% fee, however, something back is surely better than nothing?
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