It’s 2020 – Vacations are on hold – COVID is a @#*$%. *Insert sad violin music*
BUT, I have hope – and I hope you all do too – that the phrase “I’m going on vacation” becomes familiar vernacular once again! And when that day comes, one thing is certain…your lifestyle as a submarine spouse will forever and always be…consistently inconsistent!
So, how the heck do you plan a vacation when you can’t even commit to a dinner date two Fridays from now? I don’t know about you, but planning vacations around my spouse’s leave schedule is like trying to navigate the moving staircases at Hogwarts! You’re just about to the top and BAM, you’re shifting to the other side of the room for no apparent reason (…sorry, Harry Potter reference for you non-Potter fans).
The key is to keep an open mind and accept that things may change…and that is ok. As long as you build in flexibility to your travel plans you can set yourself up for success no matter how the cards play out. Of course, having to adjust or cancel plans is never fun, especially when it’s something you’ve really been looking forward to.
But there are steps you can take to help ensure you don’t find yourself in a lose-lose situation:
Sign up for travel insurance
You can find options that will cover your flights and in some cases your hotel as well. Be sure when you are signing up for your coverage that you are clear on the valid reasons for cancellation. For example, be sure that cancelled military leave is sufficiently covered and understand what forms of proof you will need to provide should you need to submit a claim. While it can take a long time to process and receive your refund, travel insurance saved the day when a port call that I had planned to travel to was canceled last minute.
Book travel that allows for flexible dates
Plans may not always need to be cancelled, in many cases, you may just need to adjust the dates. When booking plane tickets, be sure to review the policy for adjusting your travel dates and any fees that might be associated.
Book accommodations that are refundable
Unfortunately, the refundable rate is often higher than the non-refundable rate. However, in the case your plans have to change last minute, it is much better to get your money back than find yourself in the hole.
Wait to buy tickets and book activities
In cases where pre-booking is necessary in order to reserve a spot, be sure to ask about your refund options – oh, and don’t forget to ask about military perks/discounts…it never hurts to ask! Otherwise air on the safe side and wait to buy tickets and book activities until you arrive at your destination.
Don’t be afraid to wing it
As long as you’ve got transportation and a place to stay, you’re golden! If you’re a planner at heart like I am, the idea of “winging it” on vacation can be a daunting thought. I can definitely say that since planning vacations as a mil spouse I have learned to let loose on the reigns and trust that there is an amazing time to be had without my daily planner. While I still like to have a few planned out scenarios in my head, I don’t tie myself to a particular agenda. Loose plans can be the best plans! Some of my most memorable vacation experiences have come from “winging it.”
Do you have any vacation planning tips? We’d love to hear them!