Travel Tips for Freedom and Flexibility

26 Jun

When planning for a vacation, dream journey or family excursion, it never hurts to have a bit of flexibility.  In my past three years of wandering and international travel, flexibility has been a key theme.  Plans change.  Sometimes quickly or unexpectedly.  In my global escapades, I have found myself in France one day… and the next being offered a job in South Korea.  In a matter of weeks… I rerouted my life back to the United States and began the long process of acquiring a Korean Visa.  Ah, flexibility… a good partnership in the exploration of freedom.

No matter what your 5th grade teacher or high school boyfriend told you, it’s okay to change your plans or your mind.  It’s alright to be flexible.  In fact it is essential in the exploration of a created life.  For me personally, flexibility does not always come easy.  Despite the wide assortment of change in my life, I like to have my plan. This lesson for me often includes some growing pains.  But a dose of flexibility goes a long way.

Flexibility and travel plans might seem like an oxymoron.  In these days of cheap internet flights and travel deals, flexibility may seem like an antiquated story told by your old Aunt Nellie.  But it is possible and often optimal to build a little flexibility into the foundation of your travel plans.  Here are a few tips that will help put the flow back in your travels.


1.  Get the Facts on Your Flight.

Regardless of which search engine or budget travel site you use, before purchasing any airline ticket, take a little time to find out how refundable your flight is. What happens if you cancel? Does it make a difference if you cancel one day or a week before your flight?  If you cancel, can you get a full or partial refund?  Being informed with facts can put some swagger in your travel foundation should your plans change… for any reason.  A ticket that is slightly more expensive, but has a better refund policy may in the end be the better deal.

Money Back Guarantee?  Some flight search engines and travel sites offer extra insurance and money back guarantees for modest fees.  Before checking that purchase box, read the fine print to see be clear about the conditions of that guarantee.

Recently I purchased a ticket from Tripsta at an impressively affordable rate.  In an effort to support my travel flexibility I purchased the add-on Money Back Guarantees and Premium services.  When my plans changed and I wanted to cancel, I was disappointed to learn that the guarantee was only under certain circumstances (death, hospitalization, alien takeover…).  And so, while I did get a partial refund for my ticket, it would have served me well to get 100% clear about these services before making my purchase.

 

2. Know the Cancellation Policy of Your Accommodation.

When it comes to accommodation I am always looking for the best balance of affordability and quality.  I have only recently discovered how important a location’s cancellation policy is when weighing its pros and cons. Yes it may have everything I am looking for, but how much do I pay if I cancel one day or five days before my arrival.  In the spirit of flexibility, a more relaxed cancellation policy is a huge bonus and can be a deciding factor if choosing between a handful of places to stay.

Recently I booked two different accommodations for a vacation that, in the end,  I did not take.  As I often do, I booked through Airbnb.com and found a couple of places I was really excited about.  I checked their cancellation policies but unfortunately I looked at the information incorrectly and was misinformed.  When it came time to cancel…I waited too long and was out a little more money than I expected.

The best practice is to write your perspective host and ask specifically for the details of their cancellation policy to be sure you are correctly informed.  When you are clear and understand the terms of the agreement you can make your choices accordingly.  Then, if you need to fly the flag of flexibility, there won’t be any expensive surprises.

Do you have any tips on flexibility and travel?  Any great experiences or resources to share?

Thanks for reading. It’s always good to hear from you!

 

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