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Apr
14

Tips for Planning Flexible Travel [Covid-19 Series]

If you’re anything like me, I know you’re itching to get out of your country or city. Or maybe even out of your house! Especially now, since we’re living in a very uncertain time. No one, and I mean no one, knows how long we will have to worry about this virus that’s been taking over everyone’s lives.

Because of this, no one knows how long it’ll be until we can all travel again which can be a SCARY thought.

Before all this happened, Austin and I had planned to go to France in August of this year. Now, August is kind of a weird time. It’s far enough away that I keep thinking “things MUST be back to normal by then,” but it’s also not that far away.

Maybe everything goes back to normal by June or July and traveling in August won’t be an issue. BUT, maybe things don’t go back to normal until next year. That uncertainty is honestly driving me crazy which is why I’m deciding to continue with booking the trip.

Why Don’t You Just Cancel?

I touch on this a little more at the end of this post, but I get a little anxious when I’m not planning something. So, whether or not this trip happens, planning it is helping me cope in so many ways.

My plan is to book the trip like I normally would, but make sure everything I book is flexible. By “flexible travel”, I mean it’s either refundable or changeable. I thought some of you might be wrestling with this as well, which is why I chose to write this post! So, keep reading for the specific steps I’m taking to make sure the hotels, flights, and tours I book can be cancelled/changed if needed.

In addition to booking flexible travel, we’re also booking affordable travel! Here’s a blog post on how we do that!

Flights

We are booking our flights through the Chase Travel Portal (we are using our credit card points to pay for them). Chase’s specific guidelines for changing/cancelling travel mirror the individual airlines. Whatever United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, etc. are doing for their customers because of Covid-19, that’s what Chase is doing, too.

We are likely going to fly with United Airlines because they still have the flight available on the date we want and they are offering free changes for flight bookings made until April 30th. If we need to change our flight, we will have one year (from the date we buy the ticket) to schedule and take a new flight.

Also, if we do have to change the flight, we can do so through Chase, or directly with United.

I believe other airlines are also offering flexible travel rates like this. Make sure to check each of their websites before making any kind of financial commitment.

Hotels

Our France trip is actually really elaborate. Our plan is to fly into Paris, spend a few days there, and then rent a motorcycle and road trip through the South of France. The plan is that we will spend three nights in a single hotel in Paris, but only two nights in each city we stop at along the road trip.

As you can probably imagine, this requires a lot of hotel reservations! To make sure I’m booking hotels with flexible travel rates, I’m choosing to book them all through booking.com. When searching for hotels, you can choose a filter for “free cancellations”. The hotels that show up will let you cancel for free up until a few days before your stay. This is about as flexible as travel can get right now!

This is vital to me since things are changing on a daily basis. We will probably make a decision of whether or not we’re going on the trip 2-3 weeks before we go. That leaves plenty of time to cancel these hotel stays if that’s what it comes to.

Booking.com

I’m sure other sites are doing similar things. I know Airbnb is trying to get most of their hosts to offer flexible rates, but having everything in one spot is so much easier and giving me a lot more peace of mind.

Transportation

We are planning to rent a motorcycle out of Tours, France. The specific rental company we’re using has decided to keep taking reservations, but not require customers to make a deposit, which is amazing! This means we can cancel at any time and not worry about losing money.

We will also need a few train tickets that we plan on buying through Eurorail. I tried to simulate purchasing them the other day, but the website won’t let me buy them this far out. I’m planning to wait until we decide whether or not we are going and if so, I’ll buy them then.

As far as rental cars go, we won’t need one for this trip, but I have seen some flexibility from Hertz and I’m sure others are following suit. Again, I can’t stress this enough: make sure you check with every company you’re booking with!

Tours/Activities:

This is going to take some restraint, but I don’t plan on booking any tours or activities until we decide whether or not we’ll be going. This is going to be difficult for someone who likes to plan as much as I do, but I haven’t found a platform that guarantees refunds, so I’ll just have to wait on this one.

For now, I’ll still use my Travel Planning Template to make an itinerary and keep hoping that this trip will happen!

If you’re in the same boat, feel free to fill out the info below and I’ll send my Travel Planning Template right to your inbox to help you keep track of everything you’ll want to book when we can finally travel once again.

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Before you go…

I want to end this post with a justification. I’m not suggesting we all leave the country and travel as soon as we’re allowed to. I think that that mindset can easily bring back a second wave of Covid-19. BUT, no one knows what August will be like (or any month for that matter). So, in my opinion, planning flexible travel is just fine.

Personally, I get a little anxious when I don’t know what’s “next”. Trust me, I know that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s what “is” right now. Planning this trip is giving me something to look forward to and giving me hope that we will all get through this in one piece. If I have to cancel everything, I’m fully prepared to do that. So, if you’re feeling a similar way and getting a little antsy knowing you’ll be home for the foreseeable future, this post is for you.

We WILL get through this and we WILL get to travel again. Until then, check out the posts below for a few ideas to keep you busy at home.

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