Airport transfers, delayed flights, having to sit next to the guy who wants to talk about his cats for hours . . . Traveling can be stressful. Sometimes you just can’t wait to walk out of the terminal for your airport pickup car.
You know what makes traveling even more stressful? Last-minute changes to your carefully laid plans.
Before you freak out, take a breath. Everything is going to work out fine as long as you stay calm and keep your head in the game.
I’m an airport pickup driver in DC, and I’ve got 9 tips for changing plans in the middle of your trip without losing your mind.
- Talk to a real person. Get a sympathetic ear on the line. Just remember, now is not the time to be a diva. You need whoever picks up the phone to want to help you.
- If you’re traveling by train or bus, you’re in luck! Most companies have relaxed cancellation policies, and offer refunds or credit for future travel. A small fee may be deducted from your transaction, but it’ll be far less than the price of your ticket.
- Changing your airline reservation can get costly. But depending on your new plans and the airline you’re flying with, you could end up losing less than you think. Some airlines don’t charge for same-day changes. Others may tack on Your best bet is to get a representative on the phone and calmly explain your situation.
- Call your airport pickup car. I suggest contacting the airport pickup service you hired, instead of contacting the driver directly. The company will need to do some switcheroos, and they can let your airport pickup car driver know what’s going on.
- Each hotel has a different policy for changes. But most have a 24 to 48-hour cancellation policy. However, I have it on good authority that a lot of hotels let you reschedule for another date (hint, hint). And some hotel chains can book you in a sister hotel in another city.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up about your VIP status. No, I’m not saying you should yell, “Do you know who I am?!” I’m saying that if you’re a member of a hotel or airline rewards program, just mention it. Sometimes there are perks, like more flexibility, for loyal guests.
- Are you supposed to be cruising? Cruise lines are stricter than nuns with frown lines and rulers when it comes to cancellation policies. For example, to be granted a full refund with Carnival, you have to cancel 61 days before your scheduled departure. I recommend springing for travel insurance when you book a cruise.
- Speaking of travel insurance . . . it’s worth the extra few bucks. Travel insurance covers more than just cancellations. Many plans include reimbursements for missed flight connections, medical expenses, emergency evacuations at your destination, and more. Even if you don’t have to use it, just knowing it’s there means you’ll have more peace of mind.
- Last, but not least, don’t panic! Changing your plans—while you’re actually in the middle of your plans—can seem like a steep mountain to climb. But you’ll get it done and come out on the other end just fine. Here’s my advice: Make a list of the people and companies you need to call. Your list will be your new best friend. Now call the people on your list and check them off one by one. Then have a treat.
The good news is most of these companies—from airlines, to hotels, to airport pickup car services—are seasoned vets when it comes to helping people rearrange their schedules. Nobody out there is actually plotting for you to have a bad experience.
But you’ll still heave a huge sigh of relief when you get in your airport pickup car. (. . .Assuming you remember to tell them your new schedule.)