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How to Create a Plan B When You're Traveling

flight cancellation
Allianz - flight cancellation

The COVID-19 pandemic did more than delay Americans’ travel plans: It shook our travel confidence.

Remember when you’d plan an international trip and expect it to go as planned, more or less? Everything’s different now. Travel abroad is defined by uncertainty: Will the rules change at your destination before you arrive? Will your trip actually happen, or will you have to cancel? There’s just no way to be sure.

That’s why you need a travel contingency plan, so you know what your options are when things go awry. Travel insurance is an essential part of that plan, because it can protect you in case of common mishaps such as cancellations, delays, lost or delayed baggage, medical emergencies and more. Here’s what else you can do:

Consider trip stacking.

What is trip stacking? This increasingly popular approach involves booking two trips for the same time: one more ambitious trip, and one “safe” trip in case the first one falls through.

So, for instance, you might plan a summer vacation in Spain’s Costa Brava — but just in case new travel restrictions or rising COVID numbers make that unworkable, you also book a week at a resort in Puerto Vallarta. As your departure date draws closer, you’ll decide which trip to take and cancel the other.

Trip stacking can be tricky! You have to scrutinize all cancellation policies and deadlines, or you might lose money on the trip you don’t take, Avenue Two Travel CEO Josh Bush tells Travel + Leisure. "Terms and conditions have gotten more restrictive," he said. "Trip stacking becomes a little bit more onerous when that flexibility isn't there."1

A safer strategy — and a more considerate one, from travel suppliers’ perspective — is planning to take the backup trip at a later late, so you postpone rather than cancel.

Be open to rescheduling your cruise.

In the COVID-19 era, many cruise lines have changed their cancellation policies. Previously, you stood to lose all or some of your trip costs if you canceled last-minute; now, you may receive a credit equal to the amount you paid that you can use for a future cruise, even if you cancel 48 hours before embarkation.

This can provide peace of mind, if you’re able to shift your vacation schedule to take your cruise at a later date. Just be aware that cruise lines typically require you to rebook your cruise within a few months and then travel within a certain window. If your schedule’s not flexible, then travel insurance is a must. Travel insurance with trip cancellation benefits can reimburse you for your prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs when you cancel for a covered reason. That way, you can reschedule your cruise at the time that’s best for you.

Research your worst-case scenarios.

You’d rather be planning exciting excursions, not looking up “fun quarantine activities.” But to have an effective plan B for travel, you’ll need to know the possible scenarios you could face if things go awry.

Before you book your trip, check our interactive map to see current information on travel requirements and entry restrictions for international destinations. You’ll see the rules related to COVID-19 testing, vaccination policies, necessary travel documents and quarantine periods for your destination. That way, you’ll be prepared — and you’ll know what will happen if (for instance) you test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.

Travel insurance with the Epidemic Coverage Endorsement can help if you’re individually ordered to quarantine (in some situations) or if you must cancel your trip because you, a family member or a traveling companion is diagnosed with COVID-19. Just be aware that failing to meet a country’s entry requirements is not a covered reason for trip cancellation or interruption. It’s the responsibility of the traveler to check international entry requirements before booking a trip.

Call the concierge.

Let’s say you’re planning a trip around a major event, like a world-famous sporting competition, art or film festival. At the last minute, the event is canceled, access is restricted, or you can’t get the tickets you’d hoped for. What are you supposed to do now?

If your Allianz Travel Insurance plan includes the concierge benefit, then give them a call! Available 24/7, our concierge specialists can help with a variety of requests, including entertainment and event planning, activity and restaurant reservations, transportation and accommodation arrangements, and general travel information and assistance.

There’s no additional charge for concierge services, although you’re responsible for any charges related to your request. To reach a concierge specialist, call the number printed on your policy letter of confirmation.

Before you panic, call 24-7 Assistance.

You’ve always dreamed of visiting Vietnam. To reduce your travel stress, you opt to take a guided, small-group tour. It’s a magical experience — until the morning in Hoi An when your guide doesn’t show up at the hotel and no one’s picking up the phone. What are you supposed to do now?

Contact 24-7 Assistance, which is included with every Allianz Travel Insurance plan. You can call the emergency assistance number, or use the Allianz TravelSmartTM app. Our team of multilingual travel experts can help you figure out your travel plan B. They can arrange your transportation to the airport and your flight home, as well as providing any assistance you need en route. Once you return, you can file a claim for trip interruption and get reimbursed for the unused portion of your tour and the flight you booked home. Then, you can go to plan C: figuring out where you want to go next!

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