I've worked in the travel and hospitality industry since I was 22. I love travel. I lived abroad, I travelled abroad, I have vacationed in many destinations that can easily be found on the average persons bucket list. My work takes me on business travel to some amazing places such as Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Whistler and Vail, Colorado. Then why is it that I still freak out when it comes to booking my own personal travel?
In a nutshell? I have commitment issues. I do. You wouldn't know it from the outside seeing as I have a husband. And a house. And a dog. And two kids. And fewer jobs on my resume than most people have in 5 years. But I truly have commitment issues when it comes to booking my own family's travel. Booking travel can be a scary, scary thing. For one, there’s the potential for money loss. Travel isn’t cheap, certainly not the way I do it! And if something should come up to prevent me from going, the monetary loss could be substantial. That scares me. There is also the time commitment issue. Not many of us are lucky enough to have vacations and vacation time growing on trees. There are jobs, school, family commitments, etc. that have to be worked around. And when you finally carve out some time to make some memories, the thought of making a bad choice can be paralyzing. What if the hotel is awful? What if the weather doesn’t cooperate? A hurricane? Too much snow? Not enough snow? What if we get sick.....again. In life and in travel, the potential issues are endless.
In my defense, I have young kids, and young children and predictability certainly do not go in the same sentence. After my little girl was born, we kept travelling. New York, California, Hawaii, Bahamas, to name a few. It was still easy. But when my second was born (a boy at that), things changed. There was way too much variability. Illness...ongoing, relentless, transferable illness…was a big factor. When an adult gets sick, often times you can push on. But when a young child falls ill? Hell hath no fury like my three year old with a cold. If his nose is too stuffy to sleep, no one will sleep! I love him to pieces but my little boy makes a "man cold" sound like a walk in the park. I’m sure that the other few hundred people on our last flight can attest to that.
So now that I've painted this picture of the unpredictability of life and the risks of booking a vacation, you might wonder how I got past my travel commitment issues? There are a few tricks:
1. Travel Insurance – many booking companies will offer you the choice of travel insurance to protect yourself in the face of any disasters. You can also buy travel insurance at your favorite provider shortly after booking your trip, but beware, some places have booking windows. Be sure to check out what reasons are acceptable for canceling. Natural disasters or death are the least of my worries. My thought process is that if either of those two were the case, I’d have much bigger things to worry about. Anytime, anything insurance is the holy grail. No snow on your ski vacation? No problem. Kid with Strep Throat? Why not postpone a few days. That’s the type of policy you need to look out for.
2. Cancellation Policies – a common trend in the industry right now is to offer lower rates in exchange for a non refundable booking policy. If this freaks you out, ask if you can book at a higher rate in order to get a more lenient policy (ie. 14 days out). You’ll be surprised that often times it’s only $20 or so more per night.
3. Just Do It – Bottom line….build it and they will come. Life has a way of moving too quickly, and before you know it the kids will be all grown up and your bad hip will prevent you from climbing that volcano to see the most amazing sunrise you have ever experienced. There is no time like the present to commit to life experiences and priceless memories. Just book it and deal with it should something get in your way.
I have three big trips on the books between now and January (including a trip to Turks and Caicos with my husband and kids for a change, hooray!). I'm well aware that anything can happen although I pray that my anythings will be mild. But I also know that if something major happens I will be way more consumed with "insert major iife event" than with my cancellation penalty, lost air miles and postponed vacation time. I also know that in my stage of life if I don't book it, it won't happen. Those lazy afternoons on the beach or those first turns on the ski hill just won't happen. And that is not acceptable to me. Travel.......Vacation Travel that is.....is at the core of my being, and such a part of my most treasured memories that I refuse to let my commitment issues stand in the way.
Chloe Gayton is a Vancouver based product neweloper and marketer, expert traveler, mother of 2 and occasional blogger.