We’re posting the following recommendations as of March 20 specifically for the benefit of our Christopher Travel clients though it is available for anyone. Please feel free to share this link with others.
While we have been in contact with all our clients who are leaving imminently or traveling currently we want to reiterate to anyone else reading this — DO NOT TRAVEL right now. Monitor the situation for future travel. The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 advisory advising all Americans to stay home or return home immediately.
For those traveling 30+ days out the situation can be a bit more questionable and we realize how unsettling it is to simply not know what to do about your trip. Each situation is totally different, but we offer the following guidance to help you work through and decide what is best for you and your travel companions in these difficult times.
You may also wish to refer to our more general post, Travel during Upheavel or “Irregular Operations”
What is your frame of mind?
We have clients with different schools of thought. It’s important for you to be realistic with yourself and your travel companions as well as honest with us. We can offer our advice, but the decision to cancel now or wait is deeply personal. There is no single right answer in these uncertain times. Consider the following and try to see where you fall on the spectrum.
- Cancel frame of mind — Some clients already know they want to cancel their trip, it doesn’t matter what the future holds.
- Delay the trip frame of mind — Other clients are pushing or re-booking to future time periods.
- Wait and see frame of mind — Most of our clients are taking a wait and see approach.
- Press on regardless frame of mind — This is more for clients that were or are already travelling. We are working to get them home as soon as possible.
Please check in with us as we can help you and consider your options and determine what is right for you. Once you understand your own personal mindset the following pointers will give you some insight as to how to best proceed.
For those who have not yet finished planning their trip:
The full impact of the global pandemic is still to be determined, however it has added a huge element of the unknown for trips we are actively planning. To mitigate financial risk for our clients we recommend:
- Holding off on making any new pre-paid or non-refundable reservations
- Book only cancellable, refundable reservations
For those of you who are in a non refundable window and want to cancel:
In general if you cancel a non-refundable air or hotel reservation you will either receive a credit for future travel (less a change fee) or forfeit some or all of the payment you’ve made. Refer to booking terms & conditions to understand your options, to include noting any cancellation and re-booking timing if credits are an option. Also please note some vendors are offering special refunds or consumer friendly options for those who want to cancel and rebook at a future time. Check provider web sites.
If the provider cancels your booking then you usually have more options assuming the provider does not go out of business. Often this includes the right to a full cash refund.
Consider the following if you wish to cancel non-refundable travel:
- If you are already in a non-cancellation period then do not cancel your non-refundable reservation until it’s unavoidable or the vendor is offering a special policy.
- When a provider cancels your trip ask for a cash refund, you usually do not need to accept a future credit if the provider cancels!
- Monitor your inbox for communication from your travel provider. Policies are changing by the day so you may be pleasantly surprised if a policy becomes more consumer friendly. Be ready to act if you see a change!
Monitor Travel Advisories & Notices
This is a fluid situation and things are changing, seemingly constantly.
- U.S. Department of State — Travel Advisories
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Travel Health Notices
- Enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), the free program by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs that allows you to stay informed and connect with U.S. Embassies and Consulates in your destination.
Contact us to Discuss Options
We’ve handled more cancellations and changes during the past two weeks than we have in the past two years. It’s intense.
We’ve built our business on trust, referrals, and repeat business. We started this business to help share our joy of travel and that’s still our goal today. Call if you have doubts or questions, we’re happy to listen, talk, and work through options.
On a final note please know that Christopher Travel’s primary goal has always been to ensure all clients not only have a great trip, but stay safe and healthy. As we work to get all of our clients through these troubling times we believe there will be a time to travel again in the mean time we wish you all the best. Keep in touch and stay healthy!