Navigating Travel During The Coronavirus Hysteria: How To Stay Calm And Get Your Refunds
The Nomad's Direction's Current Travel Guidance Amidst Coronavirus (as of 3/17)
Nomad's Direction founder and head coordinator, Alexandra, currently traveling in Sri Lanka
The Coronavirus outbreak of 2020 has proven to have power way beyond the human body. From jacked up prices of essential protectants like hand sanitizer to the entire bustling city of New York being shut down without schooling, restaurants, or entertainment venues in action - it seems as if the whole world has stood still.
For many of us on the road, it's difficult to figure out what our next move should be. Should we re-route or just go home? Is where we are safer than home anyway?
Those of us who were planning on departing right around now or sometime in the coming weeks, are left scrambling to get refunds approved, flights cancelled, and trips rescheduled for a later date. The rest of us who are currently abroad are left wondering what the "best" decision should be.
Luckily, we created this little guide for you including some tips to navigate it all.
Keep in mind that we are not doctors, and whether or not you decide to travel is entirely up to you. Our mission with this blog is to help answer those recent frequently asked questions we've been receiving amidst the Corona outbreak
If you're currently traveling:
- Understand the response of your current location. Are people panicking and in fear? Are restaurants, public places, and transportation options being shut down? It is time to leave. Contact your country's embassy if you are having difficulty figuring out how to depart your current location. If business is continuing as usual, precautions are being taken but daily life seems a bit unbothered, and you have guaranteed places to eat, places to sleep, and money to hold you down - it might be more worth it to stay.
- If you are having to cancel your intended trip but are committed to re-routing because "home" is just not an option for you right now, the countries with the lowest risk are: Nepal, The Bahamas, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Paraguay, New Zealand, and Bolivia.
- Check out these resources that are being regularly updated to stay on top of travel bans and limitations, mandatory quarantines, and other important Coronavirus related info:
1. The World Health Organization for accurate information about what Covid-19 is, how it spreads, and how to protect yourself
2. Travel State Gov for all travel advisory updates worldwide
3. John's Hopkins Resource Center for live updates on the count of those infected, recovered, and deceased - per country
Nomad's Direction client Leanne on her recent trip to Spain (Instagram)
If you had plans to travel soon, and now need to cancel:
- First, we're just... sorry. This really blows. Trips you've been dreaming of for months, celebratory vacations in the name of a recent marriage (or maybe a solo trip in the name of a recent break up), now have to be postponed. Trust that this too shall pass, and all will be well again.
- Call your airlines rather than cancelling for a refund online. Many times, computers just work by protocol and won't have the leniency as an empathetic customer service person would. You may be on hold for an hour, but it will be worth it when your previously uninsured trip is now refunded to you with only a minor penalty, if any at all.
- Here are some major airlines' current cancellation policies in the name of Coronavirus:
1. United Airlines is waiving all change/reroute fees and fare differences for travelers who have booked flights to Northern Italy, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea through June 30, as long as the new flight is in the same ticketing class as the original booking. Full refunds are being offered for flights to China, even if noted as non-refundable when you booked them
2. Delta Airlines is waiving change/reroute fees (although fare differences may apply) for travelers heading to Beijing, Shanghai, Incheon, and Italy through April 30. Travelers also have the option of cancelling their booking using the credit toward a new flight within a year of the original issue date.
3. American Airlines is waiving change/reroute fees (although fare differences may apply) for travelers who book flights between March 1 and March 16, with the original travel scheduled between March 1, 2020 and January 26, 2021. The changes *must* be made at least 14 days prior to the outbound travel date. Full refunds are only being offered for flights to Hong Kong or China.
4. JetBlue is waiving fees for changes *and* cancelled bookings for travel through April 30 2020, regardless of when you purchased your ticket. No change or cancel fees on any new flights booked through March 31 2020 for travel until September 8, 2020.
Nomad's Direction client Gabby on a scuba trip in the Philippines (Instagram)
We want to help our current clients who had trips planned for around this time and need to reschedule, so we are currently offering complimentary additional edits to itineraries that need their accommodations re-researched to reflect their new dates of travel.
Are you still concerned about what to do next? Chat with one of our trusted travel coordinators by scheduling a virtual consultation
Stay healthy, Nomads! We're all in this together.