(Unf)Air BnB

In all my times of whinging and a moaning over the years, seldom have I been so securely ensconced within a glass case of emotion.

Last week was the one when I seriously started to consider realistic options for our holiday. Now, again, I know I seem to talk exclusively about this here, but that’s kinda what this blog is about and for. I am appropriately concerned, stressed, worried, perplexed and angry about a whole range of proper stuff in real life so don’t take this weekly obsession with a trip to some theme parks as a litmus test to my moral compass.

Is it only me who can remember about three things from school? One being litmus test, one is an essay I wrote about the French Revolution, including the opening sentence (and got an A!) and the last is how to ask for black forest gateau in German.

I am in deep turmoil. I swing on a minute by minute basis from thinking our original dates might work and then just minutes later I wonder if even postponing to next Spring will give us enough time for this thing to get sorted to a level where holidays can happen. It’s one roller coaster I don’t enjoy.

I have watched the footage of City Walk re-opening (or small parts of it) and heard the news of Disney Springs planning to do the same. Online commentary ranges from “I don’t know why they even shut the parks as I have been injecting disinfectant into my eyeballs since February and this is all a hoax…MAGA” to “the parks will be shut until 2050 and anyone who even considers setting foot in one before that has the blood of children on their hands”.

Florida has just moved into “full phase one” which means restaurants can go to 50% capacity as long as the 6ft rule is observed and they opened barbers, nail salons and gyms even though those were not officially included in phase one. Infection rates in Florida are steadyish currently but the next few weeks will be crucial and determine if they proceed to phases 2 and 3. Theme parks are now allowed to request permission to open by submitting their plans to keep folks safe.

I am torn between wanting things to get back to something approaching normal of course but fearing what we will see in a couple of weeks time when the limited reopening in Florida possibly leads to a spike in infections and deaths. I don’t like the current situation.

I have found and enjoyed useful information from this chap on You Tube.

I have never watched any of his “normal” videos which I assume are theme park based, but his concise daily summaries have been helpful. He covers daily infection and death rates in Florida and outlines and then visits stuff as it opens up again. He is on the ground in Florida so has useful insight into what is actually going on. For what it’s worth, his thinking is that parks are set for a July 1st opening, with oodles of restrictions.

My thinking this week has been in the form of a few different options. None of them are particularly pretty and certainly, none are perfect. This whole decision is more complex than a complex thing. Very few elements of our existing trip plans function well together with any change to our dates and with most options, we are likely to lose money.

Option 1

We go as planned and make the most of the likely limited park experiences. This assumes flights are operating and the US is allowing European flights in and there are no 14-day quarantine restrictions at each end. That’s a lot of moving parts to fall into place and for that reason, this option, right now, seems unlikely to me. Virgin tell me our flights are currently scheduled to depart as planned but that means little without both the UK and the US allowing non-essential travel to resume. You may have gathered by now that my confidence in either administration’s ability to manage that adequately is on the low side.

One of the other big unknowns with this option is the limited capacity in the parks. Suggestions are that you may need to book your attendance each day. Six Flags have published their “rules” for re-opening and this is what they are doing. Shanghai Disney are saying…

“Guests are required to purchase dated admission tickets prior to their arrival, and Annual Pass holders must make a reservation for their visit date and time through the resort’s official online channels before their visit to the park.”

Now for parties like us that have spent thousands on 14-day tickets, how will that work? Do we risk not getting “in” on some days and therefore losing that money? This is one thing that will need lots of clarity and will be a big factor in us being able to go ahead with plan A should we even want to.

Option 2

We go as planned, assuming all the same stuff as above and don’t do the parks at all (maybe Universal as we’ll be on-site). Instead, we do a beach holiday. Again, we lose the cash paid to the villa already and need to pay for new digs. However, we do save many thousands by not buying theme park tickets.

Option 3

We move to a late November/early December date this year. Things may be clearer and more settled in the parks or they may not. I do like the idea of experiencing the Christmas stuff without the peak holiday crowds in early December but the uncertainty of all this is doing my nut and I have no idea what to do.

A significant consideration in all of these options is that should we move dates, the villa we booked is unavailable on all dates prior to March. On the face of it, should we move dates before next March and then we have to find a new villa/accommodation and we lose a non-trivial amount of cash already paid to Air BnB.

Option 4

We move the thing to next year, say, early March. January and February may be too cold and I don’t want to wait until next summer as I want a holiday and I will stamp my feet until I get one. Currently, our villa has dates available so we would not lose any cash in this scenario.

This experience has got me thinking twice about whether I would book through Air BnB again as their deposit requirements are high and cancellations costly. I have not yet spoken to the owner directly and they may, of course, be more forgiving, but I suspect they don’t have too much wriggle room as they are bound by the terms of the site we booked through.

Virgin Atlantic updated its policy last week. If like us you booked before March and travel before October you can move your dates for free, with no penalty or price difference for a new trip with a return before November 30th. That doesn’t work for us dates wise but still, if we move dates, we won’t be charged any admin fees but would need to pay any price difference.

As we would be moving from August to a quieter time, any price difference should be minimal. Looking at the Virgin site we could rebook for early March and get Premium both ways, rather than just on the return leg as we have now for a couple of hundred quid more.

Being me, I, of course, want to get it sorted and reinstate some certainty back in to (that part of) my life but I don’t feel informed enough to do so. If I haven’t pushed the button on any of this soon, things will come to a head in June as that is when balances on things like car hire are due and we’ll have to decide to do something or nothing at that point. Knowing me, I will have done something already as I am not renowned for my laid back, let’s see what happens approach!

Part of me is urging that I just sit tight for a while. This will allow us to see what the parks do, and more importantly, if non-essential travel crucially is allowed again. If it isn’t and the flight gets cancelled on us, our options for moving it without penalty or price difference would be extended to later dates….perhaps. Having said that, that doesn’t matter too much as the flights in November or March are a similar or lower price than we paid for our current August dates.

Sigh, I suspect you are all more fed up of this than I am. Well, let me tell you, you may think you are but you are most definitely not. But at least I actually get to go on the trip if and when it gets sorted. You just get all the moaning. At this point, writing this stuff here is close to therapy and is an outlet for my frustration and angst. Having laid out the options in detail and worked through the finances of all of them, I think I have discounted the November option. The loss of villa deposit and having to find new accommodation makes that too pricey. It would appear we are faced with a choice between going as currently planned or going next March.

Deep down, I know that March is the only option that gives any drop of certainty. The thing stopping me pressing the button on that is the thought of the horror of having to endure another UK winter without a break. At this point I honestly don’t know how I would drag my flabby exhausted self through that.

Sigh…..answers on a postcard please.

Till the next time……

36 thoughts on “(Unf)Air BnB

  1. No brainer to me Craig. Next year things will be much more settled and into some kind of rhythm. You could risk August but the restrictions I suspect that will still be in place will make it nigh on impossible to enjoy it fully.

  2. We booked our flights to Japan at the beginning of February (for January 2021) 2 weeks after we came back From January 2020 trip. We’re up and down at the moment as to wether we will get to go on this trip. One minute we’re like, well it’s January we should be ok, the next it’s nope, we’re not going to be able to go. Today I’m faced with having to book all hotels for our 3 week trip. We were going to wait but then of course we’re worried that prices may increase. We usualy use hotels .com and find a discount code but more importantly we can choose the pay at hotel option (we usually pay at time of booking) Then it gives us the option of cancelling right up to the day before so we won’t lose any money. *sigh* i usually love looking and booking the hotels, this has taken all the excitement out of it. It now actually feels like a chore. Anyway, I shall not waffle anymore but Just want you to know we feel your pain. I really do hope you get your holiday, especially before winter as we all know how much you love winter 😁 Sarah

  3. As much as we would all love to go on a holiday (mine trip to the Caribbean in October was for my 60th birthday) heart and head had to be used; mine and my family’s health and safety have overuled what the heart wants. Florida will still be there for you August, end of this year, next year. Life for me needs to return to some semblance of new normal before I even think about sitting on a plane full of people. A theme park even at 50% capacity is still going to have a lot of people. And, let’s be honest, 50% of Americans think this pandemic is all a hoax anyway.

    But it could be novel to go when restrictions are in place, a different experience. But what would happen if there was a spike over here while you were away you couldn’t get back and had to quarantine when you did (a friend of mine has been stuck with her sister in North Carolina since March). Now to some that could sound bliss, but staying at a relative’s beautiful house and camping out in a hotel are two different things and wouldn’t be a holiday!

    I sound like a downer, but I just wanted to give you guys my perspective for the whole family. Take care x

    1. Yep, all the bad scenarios have played through my mind, then the next minute, I think the risk is low, most of us feel we’ve had it already and we don’t mind wearing masks. It’s like having a split personality!!

      1. I don’t envy you making the decision. Whatever you do will be ok 👌🏼🤞🏼

  4. Mine was booked for Easter so much easier on that side as it was cancelled. When to rebook though gets trickier and trickier. We are going for next Easter I think, when there will hopefully be a little more certainty, even though October would be lovely…..

  5. Good luck with getting any money back from Virgin. If you can move the flights that would be the best move if I were you. We got all our flight money back from BA as it was a Fly Drive and I’m tentatively looking at rebooking for next Easter/summer. Good luck

    1. Thanks Jen. My plan would be to upgrade to a better cabin if flights are cheaper as I did suspect getting a refund if they are cheaper would be tricky!

  6. I’ve just changed an Airbnb to next year. It’s different in that it’s only 3 nights in the Netherlands but I spoke direct to the owner and he was happy to do it. There’s no harm in asking when you think the times right.

    1. Yes once we make a decision I’ll be having a chat. If we hang on and at some point, it is confirmed that we aren’t allowed to stay in the villa then that would change their policy I guess. Right now, rental villas can open tomorrow but only for Florida residents. If and then they allow out of state and international guests, who can tell.

  7. We have flights at the very end of July and are currently in the “sit back and wait” camp. If our flights do go ahead, and assuming there are no quarantine rules on returning travellers, then we will go and make the best of it. We may spend more days at the beach as opposed to park days. We have flexible hotel bookings so can change without penalty.

  8. To be honest Craig, I would probably opt for March as I don’t think I would want to walk round the parks in face masks etc….they were also contemplating whether or not to have the fireworks …..I went last year in November returning on thanksgiving , that was our second week and it was rammed ! Would never go that time again….we were going to Australia in October, but I don’t know whether I want to fly with the restrictions in place on the plane to be honest…I love the flight experience as that is part of my holiday and to not be able to have hot meals etc would take the experience away…..I wish you luck in what ever the outcome…I feel for you x

    1. The masks don’t bother us too much if I’m honest but of course we’d rather they weren’t needed. I think November is out now, to be honest, but I do have an embryonic plan brewing for around Xmas 2021. 🙂

  9. Have you looked at insurance? My concern is that Covid won’t be covered and if we got ill in the US that would be disastrous.

      1. Sorry for jumping on this thread. We have an annual premier travel insurance with LV. We are covered for our flights to Japan in January 2021 because we booked them at the beginning of February. I am just looking at booking hotels (no deposit and cancellation up to the day before arrival) I wanted to know if we booked anything now while the travel restrictions are in place would be be covered for a trip in January even if there are no travel restrictions BUT I booked when there was. This is what I got from LV website but I’m going to contact them tomorrow.

        I want to book a new trip, am I covered for coronavirus (COVID-19) related issues?

        Yes, if you book your holiday after the FCO has lifted their current ‘indefinite’ advice against all travel, then your new trip will be covered

  10. I’m hugely fearful for a worse second wave come September/October. Indeed schools are currently discussing returning much later , after Labor Day and then with 1/2 capacity in each session as it’s not safe to have all the kids in school at once……..but it’s safe to open theme parks and let people arrive from all over the USA. I’ve told my parents a firm No to visiting this year unless we have a miraculous change.

    1. A second wave of any kind in either country would definitely see us moving the whole thing to next year. Fingers crossed for no such wave as that would be a disaster.

  11. It’s a no brainier for me, I’ve already wrote this year off for holidays. I think you need to take control of the situation (as much as you can anyway) and put the holiday back. You can then join the rest of us that are miserable in the thought of having no holiday this year.

  12. Face masks, taking paracetamol to keep temperature low to pass the test to get into country then the parks restrictive entry everywhere, isolating in and out doesn’t make for a happy holiday so it’s late next year for us assuming we can get travel insurance for less than the cost of taking another family with us.

  13. Feel your pain. We are at 96 days today. I know we won’t be going but I am becoming more and more obsessed by the day!! It is an extended family trip so to make matters worse everyone has a different opinion on what we should do!!

    1. Oh Kelly that will only add to the agony. To date, we are all as equally confused as to what the hell we should do so no arguments yet! 🙂

  14. We are moving our November trip to next April primarily as both of us are currently furloughed and work for companies that are more affected than others. We would have still gone if money was not a consideration. We have booked new flights with BA travelling PE as we would lose nearly all the deposit we had already paid to BA as the fly-drive was booked last year. The nice agent told us to wait before cancelling the November flights as BA may in the future allow us to move them for free or at least get a voucher for future flights.

    1. Best wishes for the furlough situation John. We are thankfully financially unaffected by the whole thing and know we are very lucky in that regard.

  15. We should have been going in 13 days and got cancelled by TUI on 29/4. Waited for them to cancel because they’ve offered us the 20% booking incentive. Same as you my big 50 this year and also our 25th Wedding Anniversary ,not that we need an excuse we were going anyway. One minute i’m looking at next year, the next I’m watching several Floridians on YouTube and having a little bit of hope that we could book last minute and go this August.

    1. Paula, I am with you. I flip flop between looking at MAGA idiots protesting in the US and fearing the whole country will be wiped out, to then watching a blogger wander around City Walk and think, well that’s not so bad!!

  16. I feel your pain Craig. We are due to go mid August and my hope is fading daily. We hadn’t actually booked our flights but accommodation is booked at Boardwalk (DVC members). It’s my 40th next month and my girls holiday to Corfu is cancelled, my party will have to be cancelled and now most likely Florida cancelled. It’s a very sorry state of affairs. We were going August 2021 anyway but I really can’t wait until then with no visit beforehand 😭😭

  17. I know BA cancelled my friends flights in October.
    I’m doing my first solo in November and I’m not going, too risky.
    I would wait, and maybe use the savings to book a resort u have always wanted to go to.

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