Travel plans, like life, can require being open to alternate routes to reach your destination.
Unfortunately, fees assessed for changes made to roads not traveled makes planning vacation travel difficult, especially in terms of money.
Considering the economic climate, planning a vacation 12 months from today can be risky, despite the travel deals being offered in these bearish times.
That leaves two questions: How do you remain nimble to unexpected travel changes? And, what are ways to minimize vacation costs due to a change of plans?
Also, some vacation companies, like Carnival (Stock Quote: CCL), offer a vacation protection plan that covers trip cancellation, trip interruption and trip delays for an extra fee. Sadly enough, my mother booked a trip with Carnival for a family vacation and missed her boat due to airport delays. After numerous exchanges the cruise ship company denied a reimbursement due to lack of vacation insurance. Don’t let this be you. On the other hand, the airport offered a new flight as consolation.
CONSIDER TRAVEL INSURANCE
If there’s any doubt in your mind about your travel arrangements, spend a few extra bucks and shop around for travel insurance. For example, CSA Travel Protection provides estimates for travel plans, and the cost of insuring $1,000 domestic trip recently yielded a quote of $33.75 for my age group. That’s a little more than 3% of travel costs, and includes coverage for 100% of the costs for cancellations reimbursement in instances of sickness, injury or jury duty. For cancellation for any reason there’s an additional 50% charge of the quote rate, which means a charge of about $17 more for a total of $50 coverage.
KNOW THE REFUND RULES
The rules to get your money back based on modes of transportation vary. If you’re flying with JetBlue (Stock Quote: JBLU) there are two ways for a customer to get the entirety of their fares back: If they purchase a refundable fare, which is the highest fare currently available and allows customers to make changes or cancellations, or if JetBlue cancels the flight then the customer is entitled to a refund, says Bryan Baldwin, a spokesperson for JetBlue. “The regular fare allows you to make a change or cancel your flight but you will incur a $100 change or cancellation fee.” Yikes, that’s 14 times more than a pillow! It’s also a huge fee for flights that oft-times cost less than $200 when purchased in advance. On a trip out West, a friend and I changed our flights from San Diego International Airport to Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport and were charged around $30 for the change two years ago, now the airline is citing higher fuel costs for the reason behind the increase. Virgin America also offers refundable fares that charge no fees for changes or cancellations, while tacking on a $75 for other fares.