As much as we try to organize every detail of a trip, life can often alter even the best laid plans. Whether they are minor tweaks, significant changes, or a complete cancellation, the more organized you are the more likely you can manage.
Step #1: DON’T PANIC! Keep organized and remember to cover all your bases.
Step #2: Start early. Of course, some changes occur at the last minute, but the more time you have to work on changes the better. If you suspect that you need to make a change, review to policies of the airlines or whatever travel website you’ve used. If uncertain, call the Customer Service line.
Step #3: Airlines. As much as you should book your flight first when planning a trip, they should be your first stop when making changes. Most airlines charge a fee for changes and cancellations, but always call to explain your circumstances. And don’t expect a full refund, credit for a future flight is more likely.
Step #4: Hotel and Car Rental. Actually, cancelling these are fairly easy and rarely result in a fee. But, changing dates could be trickier. Hotel availablity changes constantly. If you have to move your trip by a few weeks, you may find yourself looking for new lodging. Rental car rates change daily, that great price you found three months ago may be long gone. Again, call them.
Step #5: Event Tickets. Tickets to a ballgame or a concert are almost always non-refundable. You may be able to transfer to another date, but if you must cancel the trip then you may be out some cash. Selling them on your own may be the only option.
Step #6. Be prepared for fees. As stated in the last step, some changes will cost you. Always call to explain the situation. You may not get a full refund, but you may get credit to use on a future date.
Step #7. Details. Don’t forget all of those arrangements you’ve made for your absence. Housesitter, kennel, mail, newspaper. Of course, whether you go back to work or not is up to you.
Step #8: Plan another trip! So what if you had to cancel this trip? Start planning the next one is the best way to avoid disappintment. You can rebuild the plans you made originally, or just start over from scratch. If you need ideas, don’t forget all the resources available at your local library!