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Well….THAT escalated quickly!

Seems like it was only last week when I wondered if I should cancel my travel trips. My thoughts then were other than my tentative summer trip to Europe/Italy which I was putting on hold, I was planning on continuing with all of the trips I currently had scheduled for 2020. Then, in the past ~24 hours, we’ve seen

  • Pretty much each major sports league suspend, delay, or postpone their season
  • March Madness be canceled (but you can still do Card Madness here!)
  • The president has issued a ban on (some?) travel from Europe to the U.S.
  • The governor of my state (Ohio) cancel school for three weeks and put the kibosh on any gatherings of over 100 people
  • Our church has canceled all meetings and activities worldwide
  • Even Tom Hanks has coronavirus!

Choosing whether or not to cancel your own travel is a very personal decision. But I thought I’d share what happened to me and what I chose to do, in the hopes that it might help guide some of your decisions. Of course, it should go without saying that I am not a doctor, epidemiologist or anything other than a computer programmer and travel blogger 🙂

Canceling 2 trips

My first trip got canceled out from me. I was planning on taking my 3 boys to Utah in April. We were planning to visit our church’s general conference in Salt Lake City, as well as do some college tours with my senior son. Well that was before the church announced on Tuesday that the conference was going to still be held but now be closed to the public. With that off the table and after discussion, we decided to cancel our trip.

The next trip to fall was our family’s trip to Hawaii. We had been planning on spending a week in Hawaii over spring break, and everyone had been looking forwards to it. Over the past day or so, with all the news and cancellations, we started revisiting that.

My mom was planning on coming down while we were gone to stay with one of my kids who wasn’t going to go with us, and she called me this morning. She didn’t say she was backing out, but as someone who is older and not in the best health (i.e. in the coronavirus wheelhouse), she expressed some concerns. After thinking about it some more, we decided it was the right move to cancel this trip as well. Everything that has come out since this (Thursday) morning has only confirmed to me that we made the right call

Needless to say, the kids were super-disappointed. Heck, *I* am disappointed!

Why I canceled

The reasons I gave in my original post are still valid I think. I was and am less concerned about getting the virus myself. I’m (relatively) young and (relatively) healthy, so I would expect not to get very sick or die if (when) I catch the virus. My kids are of course even younger and even less at-risk.

My main reasons have been:

  • The risk of being quarantined somewhere and not being able to get back home. While Hawaii (or the Maldives!) doesn’t SOUND like the worst place in the world to be quarantined, if you’re stuck in your hotel room and can’t leave, it doesn’t matter where you are
  • Worry about bringing it back and infecting at-risk people. In addition to my mom, I have other friends and family members with comorbidities (my word of the day!), and I would hate to be responsible for one of them getting sick and/or dying
  • Concern about doing the right thing for society. “Flattening the Curve” has been a hot topic lately, and this (lengthy!) Medium post was incredibly eye-opening for me. Basically, the tl;dr is that if you do nothing, then everyone gets sick all at once and overwhelms the hospitals, causing a 10x increase in fatality. Check out this Twitter thread for a first-hand case of what is happening right now in Italy.

Getting my miles, points, and money back

So, this is a miles and points blog mostly, right? So let’s talk miles and points. Here’s where I stand in terms of getting a refund

Utah trip:

  • Delta – refunded my miles with no problem. I couldn’t request it online because it was an award ticket, but the Twitter team took care of me with no problem
  • Marriott / IHG – I had a sweet 5 night stay in a 2 bedroom Residence Inn Suite in Salt Lake City. Off-peak for 5 nights for 47,500 Bonvoy points! It, along with one night at a Holiday Inn Express was refundable and easily cancelable
  • Car rentals – I (almost) never book pre-paid car rentals, and this was no exception. Easily canceled my Avis and Hertz reservations

Hawaii trip:

  • I had booked this with 105,000 Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles. It’s unclear to me whether I can get these back. I’m hopeful that I can, or at the very least change my trip to later in the year.
  • I had booked an Airbnb. Today was the last day to cancel for a full accommodation fee. I’m currently out about $230 in the Airbnb service charges, but I’m hopeful I’ll eventually get those refunded. As an aside, my Airbnb host was very gracious – he and I were chatting as I was apologizing for having to back out and he said that over the past few weeks he has lost over $40,000 in bookings (!)
  • We had rented a minivan through Turo and that was cancelable

So other than ~$200 from Airbnb and my Turkish miles, I was able to cancel and get my miles and points back. I’m still hopeful on the Turkish miles. I tried calling their reservation number several times today, and each time it auto-transferred to busy. I also emailed the (Boston) sales office and sent a DM on Twitter, all with no response. I’m sure they are super slammed so we’ll see what happens. If any of you have had luck getting your Turkish awards refunded, let me know

What are you doing with your trips? Leave a note in the comments


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