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Plan B: When Trip Cancellation Doesn't Mean Trip Cancellation

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A cancelled destination wedding. A family beach vacation with a 100-percent chance of thunderstorms. And a romance that ends before a booked romantic getaway.

These all sound like reasonable scenarios to consider trip cancellation. But if you’re counting on travel insurance to cover canceled tickets and rooms that airlines and resorts won’t refund, think again. That’s because canceled nuptials, weather that’s lousy but not severe enough to ground planes or close resorts, and last-minute break-ups aren’t covered reasons for trip cancellation for travel insurance providers such as Allianz Global Assistance.

But there is a silver lining. Just because you booked one trip doesn’t mean you can’t take another. With a little creativity and some last-minute planning, you can redesign an itinerary into the trip of a lifetime. We’ve even put together a little inspiration for you...

The Cancelled Destination Wedding that Becomes Adventure Travel

You’ve heard the story. Someone got cold feet. Or reunited with their high school sweetheart over Facebook. Either way, the destination wedding is off.

With that wedding just two weeks away, your beachside resort isn’t budging on its no-refund policy. If you have travel insurance, this scenario isn’t a covered reason for trip cancellation, so what’s your plan?

This scenario isn’t exactly a rarity; more than 250,000 engagements each year don’t end in an exchange of vows. That’s a lot of potential guests left simmering mad.(1) And while you could cut your losses and stay home, why should you? After all, a destination wedding is called that because it’s happening at an exciting, exotic location. A location that will probably be more fun to fully explore without a dress rehearsal, cocktail hour and other wedding pomp and circumstance.

Consider flipping your wedding into an adventure travel getaway. Most destination weddings already double as adventure travel hot spots as they’re located on the water, in the mountains, or in popular cities and small towns worthy of exploration.

Adventure travel isn’t about vertical leaps and extreme thrills. It’s more commonly thought of as a deeply immersive cultural experience that often includes a cardio workout, such as hiking or cross-country skiing.

Take Hawaii, for example, a top location for both destination weddings and adventure travel. Instead of practicing your best man or maid of honor speech in the lobby of some posh resort, you could be really getting to know the islands. The town of Kihei in Maui, is the hands-down best spot for first-time surfers to ride the waves. Take a lesson and then take a selfie with a surfboard.(2) Then celebrate with your fellow first-time wave riders.

For something a little more spiritual, visit Kaho’olawe, with a population of zero. Famous for being used to test bombs by the U.S. military, Hawaii has worked to take it back from the brink. And you can help. For a small fee — about the same you’ll make selling that wedding gift on eBay — you can have your meals and lodging covered on Kaho’olawe for four days as you help replant the island’s native plants and trees. You’ll even learn about Hawaiian culture, agriculture, politics and more. Now that’s some deep immersion.(3)

The Washed Out Family Beach Vacation that Becomes a Luxury Getaway

It’s your annual family beach getaway. A week’s escape from the email inbox and daily grind in an oceanfront resort or rental home, perhaps in the Jersey Shore, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach or Clearwater Beach, Florida. As you pack and prep for the big trip, the weather reports get more and more dire. We’re not talking tropical storms or worse, but a slow and steady rain with cool temps and occasional thunderstorms.

If you have travel insurance to cover your lodging and other pre-paid, nonrefundable costs such as fishing trips and jet ski rentals, you need to know that in order for the weather-related trip cancellation benefit to kick in, a few things need to happen. Namely, your airline, cruise line, tour operator or travel supplier must stop offering all services for at least 24 consecutive hours where you're departing, arriving or making a connection.(4) Weather that’s lousy enough to drive away crowds and fun simply isn’t enough to call off the trip and recoup your investment.

But chin up, adventurers! You’re still going on vacation. And maybe this is the right time to take that trip a step up in class. You’ll be spending some time indoors, and might appreciate a little extra space. So first try calling the resort or rental company to see if there is any way to upgrade or supersize your accommodations. Odds are there will be some vacancy, and with the weather being what it is, you may even have some leverage to negotiate an attractive rate. While you’re making calls, dial up the spa for a hot stone massage and whatever else sounds good. Since you won’t be able to sit in your favorite beach chair and gently fall asleep as the tide goes out — without getting pounded by rain and wind — you’re going to have to find another way to earn your moment of Zen, even if it means ponying up a few extra bucks. Also, see if your accommodations have a babysitting service or simply connect with Care.com to find a well-vetted sitter. This may be the right trip for the parents to check out that fancy Asian-fusion-seafood joint you always drive by and wonder about on the way to pick up pizza.

This doesn’t mean the end to family time. After all, luxury means something entirely different to kids and adults. For the wee ones, ordering room service, getting a large popcorn for the matinee and making indoor S’mores all equal elevated living. As for those S’mores, leave them for the babysitter — and use the microwave, not the stove top. Trust us.

The Romantic Getaway that Becomes a Solo Travel Getaway

Two months after you and your significant other pull the trigger on your first trip as a couple — a weekend at Michigan’s quaint Mackinac Island on Lake Huron— you pull the plug on the relationship. The only problem is that the trip is this weekend. And your room at the Grand Hotel (where they filmed “Somewhere in Time”), the parasailing outing and the “sip ‘n sail” cruise tickets are all on your credit card.(5)

It’s too late for refunds and your travel insurance won’t cover a broken heart — or trip cancellation. It’s also too late to invite a friend to call an audible and make the trip a girlfriends’ weekend or bromance. You you’ve got a choice: ditch the trip and lose your money or take on a solo travel adventure. You know what to do.

With only 4 square miles to explore, after 48 hours of solo travel you could be mayor of Mackinac Island, which is known for its famous fudge and horse-drawn carriage rides. There are many benefits to solo travel: there is no need to compromise on plans, you’ll bond faster and deeper with locals and fellow travelers, and you’ll actually learn a little bit about yourself. But that’s not all. Solo travel is proven to create longer-lasting memories than group travel and builds empathy, according to a study from Harvard University.(6)

Solo travel might just be the best way to get over a break-up — you’ll make new friends, create lasting memories and you might even become a better person. How about that?

So the next time your trip plans change at the last minute, and trip cancellation isn’t an option from a travel insurance perspective, don’t fret and don’t give up. Instead, take a minute and think. (And if you can’t think of anything, Allianz Global Assistance offers concierge service to help with trip planning and trouble-shooting.) This doesn’t need to be the trip that could have been something special. This could be the greatest adventure of your life if you embrace the opportunity.

Mike Ward is a copywriter, family columnist and sometimes comic who lives in Richmond, Va. with his wife, two young kids and two mutts. He likes long road trips and rooting for losing sports teams. 

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Mar 03, 2017