Travel could be cancelled until 2021 - so what do you do with your plans?

Kristine Tarbert
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

As Aussies grapple with the fact that we could still be facing weeks, if not months, in isolation to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many are left wondering when we’re going to be able to travel again.

But while our post-iso travel bucket lists may be growing, and we’re dreaming about the world thanks to plenty of virtual opportunities, the reality is it could be 2021 before we’re back in the skies.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham made the grim statement last week that “people can’t undertake holidays and they won’t be able to go overseas for quite some time to come.”

We might not be going overseas for quite some time. Photo: Getty

“I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December,” he told ABC’s News Breakfast.

“It is impossible to tell at present to say precisely when travel restrictions will be removed because that will be a matter dependent upon the health advice at the time.

“The international travel restrictions have played a key role (in stopping COVID-19’s spread) and will continue to play a key role.”

He added that travel - particularly cruise travel - could be “the very last thing that is reactivated again” and now is not a time to be making bookings for travel unless you have an iron-clad insurance policy.

Travel could be off the cards for a while yet. Photo: Getty

But if you already had something booked that is still months away, say for Christmas, what should you do?

Do you cancel now, or hope things may indeed be back up and running by then?

Megan Spurrell, Community Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, tells us a lot depends on who you’ve booked with and the cancellation policies involved, but still believes waiting is your best bet.

“Check [policies] out first and foremost, and consider reaching out to providers before assuming things are set in stone – so much is changing so fast these days, and the industry is being incredibly accommodating,” Megan tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

It's work being on top of all the cancellation polices. Photo: Getty

“That said, it's always better to be cancelled on than to cancel, so waiting as long as you can, based on the above, is always the best policy.”

Here, Megan shares some more advice:

What steps to take if you do need to cancel/postpone your trip

Reach out to anyone you've booked with – airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants you booked a table at – and figure out what they need from you.

That said, postponing (over outright cancelling) usually works in everyone's favour.

You can often negotiate something better for yourself when you agree to travel with someone at a later date, rather than asking for your cash back now, plus you'll be supporting these businesses when they need it most.  

Travel company cancellation/postponement and refund policies

Airlines have been incredibly generous with letting people cancel, but a lot of people are getting stuck with vouchers instead of cash – that said, there are some tricks for getting cold hard cash if you approach it right.

Cruises, obviously, are being really helpful to travellers, especially since cruising is on hold until July.

With hotels and rentals, it really varies based on who you booked with.

Have you been dreaming about your next trip. Photo: Getty

Will I be able to travel internationally in 6 months?

That's the million dollar question. Everyone wants to know when we're going to travel again and, frankly, anyone who puts a stake in the sand is probably going to be proven wrong.

But that's why it's so important to take a beat before cancelling all your trips, especially those that are months out. We just don't know when travel will open up again.

Fingers crossed, it'll be sooner rather than later, but the benefit of postponing over cancelling is that, whenever travel opens up across the world, you'll already have the details for your first trip sorted and all you need to do is go.

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