If you are like me who plan our vacations (or any other events) way… way earlier, who always check for promotions and offers as often as I can, and who watch Youtube videos and read blogs for references and travel ideas (you thought you’ve virtually traveled already). Then you know how it feels when an impending cancelation is at hand… and all roads leading to your dream destination is already closed and almost impossible to proceed unless you’ll take all the risk by yourself. THIS POST IS FOR YOU!
The first few days of 2020 was welcomed by a virus scare we now call – CORONA VIRUS. It has already affected more than 100,000 people as of this writing (leaving more than 4,000 dead) and has infected more than 115 countries and economies. Hardly hit is the tourism and hospitality sector who is now grappled by fear and massive losses due to cancellations.
Allow us to offer few realistic steps to consider in handling this situation. This time, let’s try to list down practical tips (5R’s) in order to cope up and move on from a canceled vacation. This is based on personal experience which can also be a reference for those who will be planning for their trips in the future.
- Review all your planned itineraries. Check all the booking details, which one needs to be canceled (to avoid penalties or payment forfeiture), which one can be refunded (flight tickets – see RESEARCH portion below), and which one can be rescheduled. With accommodations, we prefer to book online with FREE CANCELATION feature in anticipation of any possible changes. It may be a few tens more than the cost of paying early, but it still proved to be more practical – like in this case, we can easily cancel our bookings – free of charge! It wasn’t easy to look for accommodation that is close to the metro station, with restaurants and other useful features yet still affordable, but you just have to cancel it before you get charged. Booking via Airbnb is highly advisable if you are to consider cost and space, and I will recommend it only if you are traveling very soon since most of the hosts don’t provide a flexible cancellation policy (which Airbnb platform has nothing to do with since this is a booking setup made by the host/unit owners themselves).
- Review any commitments made, meet-up schedules set, etc. Sure that many of us have to meet with other family members, friends, colleagues, clients and business associates. Others even specifically scheduled their vacation to attend important family occasions. But it is necessary to identify these items and draft cancellation notices so they can also make necessary adjustments.
- While we are mostly on social media, take advantage of available information like refund, rebook, or travel fun policy of airlines, hotels, and others. Check their websites and social media accounts for official announcements like flight cancellation/resumption, park closures and future schedules, etc. Good thing, we haven’t booked entrance fees, rides and attractions, train cards, etc yet. We intentionally scheduled this major trip in the last part of our month-long vacation to allow time for visa applications and other formalities.
- Also, check the advisories from embassies and related government agencies so you have references for your future actions.
Here are some of the useful links:
QATAR AIRWAYS – https://qatarairways.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360006229097-COVID-19-Coronavirus-Update
QATAR AIRWAYS – https://bestlifeqatar.com/2020/03/08/qatar-airways-launches-new-policy-to-provide-maximum-flexibility-for-passengers/
(UPDATED!!!) PHILIPPINE AIRLINES – DOHA FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS; ADDED FLEXIBILITY
CEBU PACIFIC – Free rebooking for all passengers booking flights and traveling from March 10-31, 2020
(UPDATED!!!) CEBU PACIFIC – Travel fund and free rebooking from March 10 to April 30, 2020
READ THIS AS WELL: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2020/02/refund-terminal-fee-tax/
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN – https://www.usj.co.jp/e/
PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN QATAR – https://www.facebook.com/PHinQatar/
Side note: I can still remember those times when we have to check the daily weather updates of Osaka and Kyoto so we can adjust our daily itineraries. Accuweather provides weather forecasts for less than 90 days in advance only (3 months).
- Consider the situation as out-of-hand. Don’t blame yourself, others or the heavens.
- Think of the cancellation as a “saving grace” – you getting sick, getting paranoid while on the trip and even upon your return from the trip (the thought of you as a virus carrier, etc), your family and friends getting infected only because of that momentary happiness (and social media exposure).
- Think of the cancellation as an opportunity to make better plans for the future. You may have other priorities that need your attention, your money, and your time. Consider this as a lead time to do such things and accomplish more important matters other than this trip (house renovation, pre-payment of loans, enrollment expenses, etc).
- Think of the cancellation as an opportunity to adjust your initial plans. Sometimes, you realized that 7 days isn’t enough and an additional day or two would have been better to accommodate side trips or related activities. Now is the time to make those adjustments.
- Don’t think of it as THE END of your dream. This is just a TRIP CANCELLATION bro, not the end of it all! We might have lost money and time opportunity – but the great thing about this is that, we are all safe and we can still do it some other time.
- This is the best opportunity to test your flexibility and creativity. You might have done it during the initial planning stage, but this will check if your plans are foolproof and have the capability to change or adjust to unforeseen situations.
- Consider another time or season to reschedule all the planned activities (not related to any fixed festivals like Sinulog festival which happens only in January or seasons like Sakura watching). Otherwise, you can check for other alternative sightseeing activities that will still make your trip much more exciting.
- Allow ample time to reschedule it: like, few months after the flu season is over, the next low season where prices are close to your original booking cost, or the vacation schedule that won’t have major effects on your school or work. Not on the immediate period where cancellations are still possible. It could be the next season, next half or even next year (note that some reports are even saying that the Covid-19 virus is likely to last till the end of 2020, at least).
- When you’ve finally settled for your date, it’s time to check prices, availability and do a +/- adjustments like what you did on the initial planning stage.
- This is the hardest to do when you haven’t done the first 4 R’s. But this is the easiest after you have realized in your heart that there are more things in life that need your attention.
- Just like in the REFOCUS part, acceptance is the key and other great realizations will follow like cake and hot tea.
- Now, it’s time to keep excited again. Hey! That vacation isn’t over… it’s still coming soon!
I remember the comment of someone regarding aviation rules (I think i read it in one of the social media posts/comments). When people tend to get so irate and seemingly very frustrated with airline cancellations due to bad weather conditions or technical problems, we don’t look at it as “saving grace” and often times, we fall prey to our egoistic principles and worst, our sense of entitlement: “we paid for it”, “our plans have been laid out way earlier”, “it is our special event”, etc, etc.
Safety should still be on our top priority. What is temporary enjoyment when you went home limping or getting injured? How will your “instagramable” photos heal you when you contracted a disease during your trip? What’s the cost of delay if it will save you your life?
No refund? No consideration? Businesses only think about themselves? Yes! We may have uttered those words or those thoughts may have crossed our minds. But only if we are not aware of the risks when buying during seat sales or promotions, then we become misinformed. Imagine the loss and the opportunity cost that all these sectors will have to cover during these times? Have we heard of employees being laid off because these businesses cannot sustain their operations anymore? Have we even considered getting insurance or we thought it’s an additional cost to burden?
LIFE IS MORE THAN JUST A GRAND VACATION. We have more things to cover and do after this CORONA VIRUS. And our prayer is that we will not allow the best in us to be beaten by the bad times we are encountering. Celebrate life just how we envisioned our vacations to be… a moment to #liveyourbest. Celebrate life by saving it for the best time… with the people you care about the most.
COVER PHOTO: Taken during our Tokyo trip in April 2016. The Osaka trip this 2020 should have been our 2nd time in Japan to cover the Kansai region on the western part. We will surely update you when it happens…. soon!