Covid-19, aka coronavirus, has thrown countless plans into a tailspin, from weddings to honeymoons and every momentous occasion in between. No one was prepared for the way it would turn our worlds upside down, or for the cancelations and postponements. This is unprecedented, uncharted, and unknown. So what should you do now, if your honeymoon was planned for some point in the next few months? For one, act now.
According to The Honeymoonist founder Susan Moynihan, “reach out to your airline, hotel or travel advisor ASAP and see what your options are. Postponing is ideal, that way you keep your honeymoon, just at a later date.” Seconds Susan Zurbin-Hothersall of Power Travel International, a Virtuoso Agency, “If I was getting married this year and had a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon planned, especially to an exotic destination, I would immediately contact my travel advisor to find out options for postponing. A honeymoon no longer needs to be taken within days of a wedding, it should be taken within one year of the wedding date.” Zurbin-Hothersall says she’s been able to work “magic” for her clients, like a 100% refund for clients in a three-day non-refundable situation. “A travel advisor is your best friend,” she says.
Early in March it may have seemed possible to redirect plans to places not as hard-hit, but with each passing day the seriousness of the situation grows, and the list of locations where it’s present dwindles. Flights, too, are disappearing as travel bans and restrictions grow. So now is not the time to test your luck with travel of any sort. “We don’t know how this virus will run through our own country, let alone the rest of the world,” says Moynihan, “and if you manage to go somewhere you may not get back for weeks. I’ve been advising all clients to hold off on April and May, and be wary of June—and that includes domestic travel.”
It may seem safer to travel within your own state, even, but Moynihan points out that leaving a city for a rural place impacts the people who live there, and their far smaller health facilities. “And flying when you don’t need to affects the safety of people who have to fly, like my brother who’s a FedEx pilot and flies from his home to wherever they need him.”
That said, Zurbin-Hothersall points out that later this year may be the time to explore our own country for your honeymoon. As a Virtuoso luxury travel advisor in U.S., she’s knowledgeable about the more than 300 “glorious and luxurious hotel properties within the U.S.A.” Places like Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, with private cabins, long and winding bike paths and s’mores by the fire pit; Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and Twin Farms in Vermont for relaxing settings with farm-to-table delights for the foodie couple, The Resort at Paws Up in Montana for an outdoor active couple, and Mii Amo in Arizona for the couple seeking amazing wellness treatments and stunning scenery. “When booking with a Virtuoso advisor you get perks such as complimentary breakfast and a $100 resort or spa credit,” says Zurbin-Hothersall, “plus me, your advocate, to keep an eye on the state of travel.”
If you’re worried about money lost, fear not. “Most tour companies and hotels have been helping clients with spring and early summer honeymoons to move confirmed bookings to a later date,” says Moynihan, adding that some are extending final payment deadlines for others who are currently in the planning process, knowing that things may change and they may not be able to finish payment for a trip that could be postponed. Cruise lines are allowing couples to reschedule, though not all refund deposits or final payments.
Airline policies are ever-evolving, depending on whether they cancel a flight or if you do. “Some airlines are giving credits, but you must take note of when you need to fly by, because people are getting confused thinking their ticket is open-ended, but it is not—there can be a ‘fly by’ date restriction,” says Zurbin-Hothersall. Ultimately, keep abreast of all these changes if you didn’t book with a travel advisor or agent whose job that is. You might have a harder time if you booked through a third-party operator.
Unfortunately, “there is no clear answer about a safe time frame in which to reschedule—don’t I wish I had a crystal ball!” says Zurbin-Hothersall. She is advising clients to delay travel outside the U.S. until 2021. If you’re in the midst of planning your dream honeymoon, consider being open to switching seasons—i.e. a fall honeymoon instead of spring—or destinations. Some of Moynihan’s clients are delaying theirs until the same dates next year. “Personally I would not leave my home country right now,” she says, “nor will I jump on the first flight out when the Level 4 ban is lifted—and I say that as an avid traveler!” She is hoping in a month airlines will get their schedules back up and running, and that it might be safe to start booking again. “I think parts of Asia will rebound quickly, because they responded so quickly with testing and monitoring cases,” she says. “And I for one can’t wait to go back to Italy and show my love for a country that has been through so much!”
Still, there’s a fear that places that endured a wave of virus could succumb to another due to an influx of infected visitors later—especially small island countries with limited medical infrastructure. “It will be key to take cues from each country, go where you are encouraged and invited to go, and respectfully stay away from places that are asking tourists to do so, to protect their own people,” says Moynihan. This, too, will pass, and it will be safe to travel again. And when it is, go! “I am a firm believer in travel as a way to support communities on a grassroots level,” says The Honeymoonist expert, who thinks summer will be perfect for closer-to-home honeymoons. “Americans are generous in nature, so I see a lot of celebrating and exploring domestically.”
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by The World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts and couples who are experiencing cancellations to give you the most up to date advice on how this can impact your wedding.