Everything from U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about women, to his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, to his attempts to limit travel from six majority Muslim countries has some Canadians considering a travel ban of their own. Canada’s largest school board and the Girl Guides of Canada already suspended trips to the U.S. earlier this year in response to Trump’s proposed travel restrictions. And the web has been inundated with Canadians claiming they will be staying in Trudeau’s Canada rather than going to Trump’s America for their summer vacation this year as a form of protest against the American president.
For those who have booked their vacations long in advance, however, the situation is a little more precarious — and costly, if you want to cancel your trip now.
Putting your money where your mouth is
According to the Ipsos poll commissioned by Yahoo Canada in April, 42 per cent of Canadians have had their travel plans impacted in some way by the change in power in the U.S. Of those, 19 per cent say they’re going to avoid travelling to the U.S. for the foreseeable future, and 14 per cent say they are more nervous when approaching a U.S. border crossing.
But what ends up costing the most is cancelling a trip outright, which two per cent of Canadians say they’ve done with a trip they already booked. That’s when you start to incur some monetary costs.”
The bad news? Simply not liking and/or fearing Trump’s America is not likely to be grounds for a refund, says Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.
The good news? There are likely a few ways to get some of your money back should you cancel a trip to the U.S. before you leave.
You can often purchase travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason, generally allowing for a 50 to 75 per cent refund, said McAleer. And even if you did not purchase this type of insurance there are often levers you can pull to try to retrieve some of your hard-earned cash.
Planes, trains, and automobiles
Before clicking ‘Confirm Purchase’ for any online purchase always read the fine print first. Every airline will have their own policies, but often there will be an option to cancel a booked flight … for a fee. If you’re cancelling for any reason be prepared to put in some elbow grease to cancel your booking and understand that an airline might only offer you a credit for a future flight versus an actual refund.
Cancelling your rail travel will also cost you. According to Amtrak’s website, the American rail service charges a 20 per cent refund fee for most bookings.
And if you booked a car rental, you’ll also likely have to shell out some cash to cancel. Depending on how close to the booking you cancel fees could be as low as zero dollars, or reach above USD$100 for a same-day cancellation.
Losing sleep over that hotel reservation?
If you pre-booked sleeping accommodations you’ll likely be able to cancel, again for a fee.
Airbnb has its lengthy cancellation policies posted on its website, so, again, read the fine print before booking. The same general rule applies for all vacation bookings – the sooner you cancel the cheaper the cancellation fees will be. Large hotel chains will also usually list the cancellation policy for your booking online, as well as via a confirmation email. If you have purchased non-refundable accommodations or flights consider reviewing the policies online first and then reaching out to see if you can get a refund, or perhaps a credit to use on this side of the border instead.
Get me out of here!
If you have already started your trip in the U.S., but, say, feel uncomfortable with all the Make America Great Again hats you’re seeing near your hotel you can still likely cancel the rest of your trip – though the fees for doing so will be much higher than if you cancelled before you went. As Trump might say: Sad.
To avoid being sad about shelling out for cancellation fees, review and understand your travel insurance and refund policies of all travel-related purchases before you buy, advises McAleer. And, consider buying travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason – including not liking the new American president or his policies.