Should You Rethink Your Summer Travel Plans Because of the Delta Variant?

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 7, 2021

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A parent and young child wearing medical masks and looking out the window of an airport.

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The pandemic seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Should that impact your vacation plans?

Earlier this summer, it seemed like the U.S. was finally getting to a good place in regards to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 cases were down, vaccination rates were up, and the economy was steadily getting stronger. In fact, a lot of people rushed to make travel plans for the summer, thinking that getting away was finally a much safer prospect.

But unfortunately, the Delta variant has created a very different situation than the one we were in just a month ago. During the second half of July, COVID-19 cases surged on a national level, and slowing vaccination rates have created a scenario that has health experts worried. Things have taken such a drastic turn that the CDC recently reversed course on its mask guidelines, saying that now, even fully vaccinated individuals should put on a mask when they find themselves indoors in a public setting.

If you made plans to travel this summer, you may feel less comfortable moving forward with them now that the Delta variant has taken hold. But should you cancel your trip? And what happens to your money if you do?

To forge forward or stay home -- that's the question

Whether or not you feel comfortable traveling this summer will really hinge on your personal situation, which includes your vaccination status, your health, and your tolerance for risk. If you have unvaccinated people in your family you'll be traveling with, you may no longer be okay with the idea of boarding a plane. Or, you may be worried you'll face too many restrictions and closures once you arrive at your destination.

At this point, if you haven't booked a trip yet but are feeling uneasy about taking one, then you may want to put your plans on hold or perhaps make plans that limit your risk of contracting COVID-19. That could mean driving to your destination instead of flying or booking a stay at a private vacation home rather than a hotel.

But what if you've booked your travel already? At that point, things get a bit more complicated, but you may have some options.

First, you can call your credit card issuer and see what recourse, if any, you have. Your issuer may not be able to do much, but it's worth a shot. This especially holds true if you have a credit card that's co-branded with a specific airline. If you booked a flight on that airline and now need to cancel for a non-covered reason, your credit card company may be able to help out.

Assuming your credit card company can't get you a refund on your flight, your next step is to call the airline yourself and see what your options are for canceling. Depending on your airline's policy and the type of ticket you booked, you may be entitled to some sort of refund or a travel voucher that allows you to rebook your flight within a certain period of time.

From there, take a look at your hotel booking. Many hotels will give you your money back if you cancel your plans at least 48 hours before your reservation date, so you may be in luck there. If you rented a private home through a site like Airbnb, you may have a less flexible window to cancel, so log in to your account and see what your host's policy entails.

Now, if you purchased travel insurance for your summer trip and you want to cancel it, you may be entitled to a pretty decent refund. Many policies have a "cancel for any reason" clause that allows you to do just that. Usually, you won't get all of your money back if you invoke that clause, but you should get most of it back.

It's unfortunate that the Delta variant has set the country back on its path out of the pandemic. If the idea of taking a summer trip no longer sits well with you, it pays to see what options you have for getting your money back. And if you never booked any plans to begin with, you now have an opportunity to either hold out for better days or otherwise alter your travels to avoid risks you're not comfortable taking on.

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