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BBB Tip of the Week: Canceling travel during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

Spring break excursions have been shelved, summer vacays are getting suspended and weekend getaways have all but gone away. Global stay-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus are wreaking havoc on travel plans. With trip itineraries now either obsolete or in serious jeopardy, vacationers are looking to recoup some of their paid expenses.

BBB understands the feeling of disappointment when you must reschedule or cancel a vacation, and we do not want those feelings to be worsened by losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. So here are our tips as you try to reschedule or cancel your vacation.

It starts with communication: BBB suggests contacting the companies or agencies you booked your travel with to see what refunds or rescheduling options are available.

Then ask the right questions: If rescheduling is the only option, you will want to know the processes and procedures you will need to go through if another wave of COVID-19 were to hit and you weren’t able to follow through on that trip.

While you may want to travel, you may wish to assess your risk and understand that canceling may be the best option for now.

For optimistic travelers who are thinking of booking something soon, the best advice is to stay informed. Resorts, tourism boards and popular sites like Google all offer updates that can be delivered via text or dropped into an email inbox.

When looking at future trips, these tips from BBB Northwest and Pacific may be useful.

Carefully research cancellation policies before making reservations. If you were hoping to travel somewhere later this year, understand what kind of cancellation policy is available for the tickets you would like to purchase.

Cruise company, airline, hotel, Airbnb, and other travel-related cancellation policies are rapidly changing because of the pandemic.

Consider buying travel insurance, but read the small print. Travel insurance is a great way to receive a full refund if you need to cancel a trip, but not all policies have the same coverage. It is critical to read the fine print of any plan you are considering before you buy it. Most policies will not cover a cancellation simply because you are now afraid to go.

Consider hiring a travel agent. If finding travel insurance, contacting airlines and cruise companies and making last-minute travel plans does not suit you, consider hiring a travel agent. A reputable agent will be able to do all the legwork for you.

Think twice before buying a bargain ticket. As the coronavirus restricts travel for many, flight and cruise deals are popping up everywhere. If you want to take advantage of these deals, keep in mind that, realistically, any destination could become compromised or closed as the virus continues to spread. You may need to cancel or reschedule your travel plans. This could result in additional fees and make the deal even less of a bargain.

Make sure to find a business you can trust by doing your research on www.bbb.org.

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