If you’re a traveler like me, then you’re definitely feeling the crush and disappointment of cancellations across the travel industry due to coronavirus fears. As a wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis, I understand and am actually grateful for the suspensions as a way to keep people safe and healthy. There is also a bright side to all of this chaos; there’s never been a better time to book future travel! From discounts to freebies, here are a bunch of great reasons why you should consider booking your next accessible adventure NOW.
1 . You can get some amazing discounts and cheap fares. While airlines are reducing their flight capacity and cruise lines are temporarily suspending operations, they’re also slashing fares on future travel. You can find round-trip airfares not only within the US, but to international destinations, for half of what they cost (or less) just a few weeks ago. Cruise fares are also plummeting. You may think these deals are for travel now during a high-risk time, but many of these low fares are good through December 2020, and even into 2021.
2. No or low risk for booking. We all hate non-refundable deposits and airfares, both of which prevent many people from booking travel during periods of uncertainty. Fortunately, many airlines are waiving change fees for flights booked by March 31, and many cruise lines are offering similar options, like 100% future cruise credits for changes or cancellations. For example, Delta’s “Book with Confidence” waiver allows a one-time change to your travel through February 28, 2021.
If you book a Royal Caribbean cruise between now and July 31, then choose to cancel up to 48 hours prior to sailing, you’ll get a future cruise credit good until December 2021. Contact your accessible travel agent to learn about each cruise line’s “Cruise with Confidence” policy. Sandals Resorts are offering free room cancellations and 100% refunds for reservations cancelled 31 days or more prior to check-in date. Marriott is allowing changes and cancellations for new bookings made until April 30, even pre-paid rates, until 24 hours before arrival.
3. Cruise lines are giving away perks like candy. Cruise “perks” are things like free beverage packages, free Internet, and on-board credits that can be used to pay for things on the ship during your cruise. Well, right now, many cruise lines are giving away perks like toilet paper at Costco! For example, Norwegian (NCL) is offering free open bar, specialty dining, excursions, wifi, child fares, $200 on-board credit, and free airfare to many departure port cities. Carnival is offering up to 30% fare discounts, up to $125 on-board credits, 2-for-1 deposits, and free room upgrades.
4. More availability for wheelchair accessible accommodations. One of the biggest frustrations for disabled travelers is finding an accessible hotel room or cruise ship stateroom, and to do so, we often have to book at least several months in advance. Given all the cancellations and hesitation to travel, the availability of accessible accommodations is likely better than ever! Still make sure to contact hotels to inquire about their rooms and make sure they meet your needs.
5. Something to look forward to. We’re currently dealing with an unprecedented global crisis, and people are understandably upset, disappointed, and anxious. It’s amazing how uplifting it can be to book a trip at low cost and low risk, knowing this crisis will eventually pass and you’ll have something exciting to look forward to. Our kids tend to take unexpected changes in travel plans pretty hard, and knowing that travel, even if it’s on a later date, is still possible can go a long way towards calming their fears and lifting their spirits. I know, because I had to reschedule an Alaska cruise with my two sons for next summer. They were disappointed, but happy to know we’re still going.
6. Supporting the travel industry. As an accessible travel agent, I can assure you that all of us in the travel industry are hurting right now. You’re mostly hearing about airlines and cruise lines, but you’re not hearing as much about “the little guy.” Many travel agents, who live on trip commissions, are worried about being able to pay their bills. Tour guides around the world are finding themselves suddenly unemployed. Tour operators may have to go out of business. Booking now for travel later gives all of us some hope that travelers are optimistic about the future.
7. Travel insurance CFAR policies will cover you. Anyone who has recently tried to invoke a travel insurance policy (and didn’t read the terms and conditions) has come to the harsh realization that most policies don’t provide coverage during a pandemic. However, many travel insurance companies do offer a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) option that allows you to do just that. The coverage amounts vary and may not reimburse you for 100% of your expenses, and the CFAR options are more expensive. However, it’s nice to have that peace of mind now if conditions should change later. Please note that CFAR policies are only available to purchase through your accessible travel agent.
If you want to know about the best accessible cruise itineraries, cruise lines, cruise ships, and more, you can order my brand-new book, Everything You Need to Know About Wheelchair Accessible Cruising! Check out the exciting video preview trailer:
Do you want to know what your options are for huge savings and no risk on a future accessible vacation? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel to learn more!