I’ve been avoiding this topic for several weeks now. The current health pandemic has realized my worst fears as a travel advisor – a cancelled trip – and multiplied it over and over again. For the past 2.5 months I have cancelled or postponed not one, not two, but 23 client trips (& counting…). My weeks have been filled with reviewing cancellation penalties and regularly updating T&Cs for tour operators, air lines, cruise lines and hotels, waiting on hold for hours, pushing plans to new dates, and negotiating refunds and credits. Though this is a necessary part of my job (and part of the reason you may consider using a travel advisor in the future!), it certainly is not the fun part of my job. The fun part is dreaming up incredible trips with my clients, and then turning those dreams into a reality. Along with postponed weddings, graduations, and proms, travel tops the list of disappointments from coronavirus. Of the 23 trips I’ve had to cancel or postpone on behalf of my clients, many were in the works for months, carefully researched and planned and much anticipated. My clients are disappointed and I feel that so much, not only because of these 23 cancelled/postponed trips but also because of my own.
On top of that dreaded 23 number, I’ve also cancelled 5 of my own personal and work trips over the past few months: in March, a family & friend visit to NY, plus a staycation to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary; in April, a long weekend in North Carolina to celebrate a friend’s wedding and visit with extended family; in May: a conference in Buenos Aires followed by a fabulous FAM trip to Bariloche (long on my bucket list!) and; in June perhaps the most difficult of all… an epic Arctic cruise with my family that we have been planning for one whole year.
This last one just got officially cancelled last week, and even though I knew it was likely to get cancelled for some time, the finality of it still stung. One year ago, we came up with the idea to do one big adventure family trip before my brother and I start our own families… one last big hurrah before we add little ones to the mix. The arctic was my choice – it was exotic and adventurous yet not actually all that difficult to get to. Since booking the cruise a year ago, I have spent the last 11 months carefully planning our pre-trip stay in Oslo, booking all of our flights, and selecting our dining options for each night of the itinerary. I never imagined that we wouldn’t be going…
Of course COVID-19 has touched SO many aspects of our lives. There has been plenty of anxiety, uncertainty, illness, unemployment… yet also, extra time at home with our family, picking up hobbies that we always felt too busy for (baking, reading, puzzling), long walks in our neighborhoods and people coming together in all sorts of ways to support each other. In light of some of the more horrific stories about people fighting for their life in the ICU and millions losing their jobs, it feels petty almost to mourn the loss of a great trip. What does that matter in light of everything else going on? But, I think our feelings are still valid. We are travelers… it’s what brings us passion and life and it’s OK to feel sad that you cannot do right now what you love the most. It’s OK to feel disappointed, yet still grateful for your health and family and everything else you do have right now. And it’s also OK to look to the future and start dreaming of travel again, because one day, we’ll certainly be able to make up for this lost time.