Despite our ever-busy lives, vacations remain an important part of life. In fact, about 35% of Americans go on vacation each year. But before a vacation ever happens, we spend hours finding good deals, booking flights, and finding hotel accommodations. Time and effort aside, vacations are also quite expensive. After saving up for months, travelers want to know that their hard-earned money isn’t going to go to waste.
We all know that travel plans can change on a whim. The weather may ruin your beach vacation or a cancelled flight may detour you to another city. Whatever the situation, it’s important to protect your travel investment. Keep reading for 4 ways to protect your travel funds to cover yourself in the event of things not going as planned.
- Familiarize Yourself with Cancellation Policies
One of the first places to start is with the airline. Each airline has a delay and cancellation policy, take United customer service as an example: You’ll want to be well aware of the ‘goodwill’ policy that applies to you in the event that your flight is delayed or interrupted. With delayed flights, it’s also useful to know that you’re protected under the Department of Transportation. In fact, if your flight is involuntarily delayed for two hours or more, you’re entitled for a 400% compensation of your ticket value.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with your hotel’s cancellation policy. Some hotels allow you to cancel up to 24 hours before your check in date without a fee. Others will offer you the option to rebook your dates for a nominal charge.
Before booking flights and a hotel room, be sure to take the time to read the fine print, which is often where you’ll find information about delays and cancellations. Be sure that you can recoup your money in the event that your vacation plans change unexpectedly.
- Invest in Travel Insurance
Though not many travelers invest in travel insurance, it can be a life-saver when your vacation doesn’t go as planned. Like any type of insurance, you buy travel insurance in the event that something may go wrong. While you may never need to file a claim, having travel insurance provides peace of mind that you’re covered, even in the worst of situations. Travel insurance covers a variety of situations including:
- Delayed flight
- Cancelled flight
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Illness or injury
- Medical coverage in a foreign country
When choosing travel insurance, you want to choose the coverage that is most suitable for your situation. If you’re traveling to a foreign country and renting a car, you’ll want to choose a policy that covers these items. Most importantly, you want to choose a travel insurance company that is reputable. You’ll find that online vendors, tour guides, and even hotels offer travel insurance. Be sure to do your research to ensure that you’re working with a quality insurance company.
For a good deal on travel insurance, consider getting coverage through your existing insurer. Many companies that offer car, home, and renter’s insurance also offer travel insurance. Having several policies with the same company may save you money under a multi-policy discount. You can also inquire about other savings, such as those for veterans, AAA members, and frequent travelers.
- Pay with a Credit Card
When it comes to vacation expenses, you always want to pay with your credit card. Sometimes we take a risk and book a vacation with a new merchant. If you were promised a certain service or product for your vacation but the merchant fell short, your credit card company will assist you in receiving reimbursement. Major credit card companies such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express all protect buyers under the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this act, consumers are protected if a merchant fails.
- Book Wisely
The Internet is full of fraudsters. While we all like to get the best deal possible, if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. When booking your vacation, be sure to only book through reputable sites. If possible, book through the airline, hotel, or cruise company’s direct site. Otherwise, only book through well-known third-party vendors. This lessens your risk of booking a fraudulent vacation deal.
Don’t put your travel investment at risk! When it comes to travel, nothing is certain and there is plenty of room for something to go wrong. With the 3 options above, you can travel confidently knowing that your travel funds won’t be lost because of an unexpected or unavoidable event.