Planning For Travel Today – Three Ways To Plan Flexibility

It should come as no surprise that I am big on planning. That’s why we started to plan our 2021 trips in the throes of the COVID-19 Virus pandemic last year. Like many, all our travel plans in 2020 were ditched when the pandemic set in.

We could have reacted to thinking about future travel in one of two ways:

  • Make no plans for 2021 for fear we would have to cancel everything again or,
  • Plan our travel with contingencies and be prepared to change plans as the situation unfolded.

Perhaps rightfully so, many people are a little queasy about making travel plans as we come out of our COVID-19 hibernation. I get it, people had plans last year and they may have lost money due to cancellations.  Their reaction is “nope, not doing that again!”

For me, NOT planning for travel makes no sense. It’s like saying “someday I’ll travel.” Well, someday may never arrive. We like to plan our travel with the idea that should circumstances warrant we have fully (as best we can) thought-out contingencies if we must alter our plans.

The key is flexibility, and here’s how to plan flexibility:

1. Make airline reservations that can be changed.

Ideally you want reservations without fee or cancelled with a refund or even a travel voucher if the voucher has a long enough time frame. With pent-up demand for travel and fewer flights we make reservations early to secure desired flights and seats. We expect our flights to change before we travel, perhaps several times. Airlines have been reasonably flexible. If the change was not desirable the airlines worked with us to get something better.

2. Secure accommodations well in advance.

We monitor the full refund-by-dates so that should circumstances warrant we can terminate without losing money. Sometimes we stay in hotels, and sometimes we use VRBO or Airbnb. There are many options available to allow you to reserve your preferred accommodations well in advance of your trip.

3. Buy trip cancellation coverage just in case.

I prefer to be prepared in case we must cancel after the full-refund dates. Personal illness is one reason you might need to cancel but consider also that an ill family member (parent or child) could also derail your trip. It’s just prudent to build in some flexibility.

After a year like the one we’ve all had, planning travel gives one hope; something to look forward to. Yes, it was bad enough that we had to cancel every trip last year (even lost a bit of money doing so).  But not re-planning those trips somehow amounted to a defeatist attitude to me.

“After a year like the one we’ve all had, planning travel gives one hope; something to look forward to.”

So, if like me, you had to cancel plans last year, make your 2021 travel plans now. Consider also making plans for 2022. Places are filling up; airline reservations are limited. And with the economies of the world coming out of the pandemic, recession prices will inevitably rise.

Whether you have lots of time to achieve your travel goals or are well into your retirement years, don’t squander the opportunity to plans while you are able. Make Life Count!


Stewart S. Koesten, M.S.F.S., CFP®, CIMA®. is Executive Chairman of Aspyre Wealth Partners with more than 35 years of experience as a wealth management advisor. Stewart especially enjoys working with people who travel or live abroad, or those who want to travel or live abroad. Contact Stewart Koesten at (913) 345-1881.
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