We all know the time and effort that can go in to booking a trip. There is planning, execution, and anticipation. You have to pick the ideal destination around dates that work with your schedule, along with when weather will be nice, and the price is just right. There are flights, hotels, transportation, sightseeing to consider. Really, getting a trip to come together can sometimes take a lot of work.
But what happens when all your efforts are for nothing as your trip falls apart right before your very eyes? Many people have been experiencing this frustration lately. Having this happen creates a different type of travel stress to deal with as anticipation turns to angst.
After seeing multiple trips fall apart in a short amount of time, it seems only natural that we would reflect on what lessons we have learned from this and share that knowledge with you.
Our Biggest Booking Regret
We have dealt with our fair share of trips that just haven’t worked out for one reason or another lately. But, they all have one thing in common.
Our biggest booking regret of the last year to 18 months has been booking trips too far in advance.
It seems counterintuitive. Booking a trip in advance has many benefits. Often times we book these trips because we have found a really good deal that just can’t wait. In addition to that we face the challenges of traveling from our small town. Flights are often expensive and limited; drives are distant. And, of course, we have to manage work schedules as well.
We started booking trips approximately one year in advance in the beginning of 2019. On the surface, it was so nice to know where our travels would take us for the year and be able to plan appropriately. It was nice to have everything in order and enjoy the anticipation of the upcoming adventure. But, there are too many things that can happen over the course of a year. We learned from personal experience.
Instead of creating a travel year that is well planned out for smooth sailing, the last 18 months have proven the opposite to be true. Booking trips so far in advance has resulted in us experiencing increased stress and frustration, having to make difficult decisions about whether to cancel a trip or trying our luck and, in some cases, even losing money on a few non-refundable purchases like event tickets.
Like many others, we have experienced countless trip cancellations and interruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not the only scenario where we booked trips well in advance that ended up falling through. Political tensions in certain destinations and even excessive airline schedule changes that created misconnects have caused us to pull the plug.
We are always covered by travel insurance. But, many things along these lines tend to be on their list of coverage exclusions.
What We Will Do In The Future
When we look to the future of trip booking, we will likely do some things differently. While we still need to do a certain amount of planning in order to get time off work, we likely won’t book trips one year in advance. Instead, I foresee us requesting a certain amount of time off work, then seeing what deals are available in safe destinations as the date draws nearer and booking in a shorter time frame.
With any future bookings, we will always make sure to select options that are either refundable or offer full cancellation. Not just 95% of the time like we currently tend to do. We have learned that even with travel insurance, the wide list of exclusions does not cover most scenarios that we travelers are facing right now. Saving a little bit of money by booking the cheaper non-refundable option on a few travel elements has not been worth it.
I’m not just talking about plane tickets and hotel reservations. I’m talking about tickets to concerts and sporting events, transportation, admissions, excursions and activities. Make sure you can always get your money back!
Booking in a shorter timeframe gives travelers a better grasp of what the current events are and what things may impact an upcoming trip. We are living in uncertain times. Again, way too much can happen in one year.
We are simply not interested in spending hours sitting on hold with customer service, sending countless nagging emails, or loaning airlines our hard-earned money while we wait to arrive at the point in time that we can actually use the credit they will give us. Planning trips in a shorter time frame seems to be the way to go as we move into the new normal.