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When You Have to Cancel a Trip

I’m feeling a bit wistful today because tomorrow we were supposed to be boarding Amtrak for a four-day weekend in Lake Tahoe. The plan had been to meet my parents, who were coming on the same train line in the opposite direction, from its origin in Chicago.

But floods in the West washed out the train tracks, and my parents’ trip has been postponed a week. We could have kept the Airbnb we’d reserved and gone with friends instead, but the fact is, the trip was going to be a strain financially anyway, and I found out after making the plan that my husband doesn’t get President’s Day off. So we decided to cancel. Besides, we’ve been really busy the past two weekends, with a Cub Scout trip, a Girl Scout trip, a slumber party, and umpteen Girl Scout cookie sales. We were really too busy to go on this trip, we didn’t have the cash, and besides, President’s Day Weekend is waaaay too crowded at Tahoe.

But being a frugal traveler, I wasn’t going to cancel if it was going to cost us financially. The first thing I did was check the cancellation status of our Airbnb. It’s up to the homeowner to set the cancellation policy, and most I have reserved set their policy to “strict,” meaning that I would not be able to get a refund. However, this condo owner had set her policy to “flexible,” meaning that we would receive everything back but the $149 Airbnb booking fee, which my parents agreed to cover. I sent the owner a note of apology and cancelled, and soon saw that the refund to my credit card was pending.

The other company I needed to check in with was Amtrak. I had not selected a “flexible” fare, opting to save money with the regular price. However, when I called, the agent informed me that I could get a full refund up to 48 hours before the trip. So I cancelled that too. Besides, the train had been cancelled all week from our end as well, so, although it is so far listed as “status unavailable,” I’m willing to be that the Friday train we were going to take will be scratched.

The only cost I don’t feel great about with this trip is a couple of seasonlong ski rentals that my husband made for himself and our son. Actually, he rented the skis for the Cub Scout Winter Lodge at Tahoe two weeks ago, but when they got up there, the kid said he wasn’t feeling well and they didn’t ski. With this trip cancelled, I’m not sure my son is going to ski at all this year, meaning that the cost of his rental will be wasted. Of course, I’m going to ask Sports Basement if they can give us any of our money back if we never used the skis. You never know! I’m also looking into booking a less expensive ski destination in March and/or April so he can still use them.