When Vacation Plans Change – Travel Hacking Mom

My husband and I are in Sydney, Australia, as part of a great trip to Tokyo, Australia, and New Zealand. We should have left for Auckland this morning, but the weather changed dramatically on the North Island of New Zealand. We noticed the following scenes in Auckland on tv the night before we were to leave. I first started to worry when earlier that day, a kayak trip in Cathedral Cove was canceled for 1/30. Then at dinner, we were next to a woman from Auckland, and she mentioned that the weather was horrible there, as were the roads. What do you do when vacation plans change?


Man walking in flooded street

Yikes! We didn’t want any part of that!


Problems and Solutions

I learned several things when vacation plans change:

  • Points and miles are easy to cancel, and you will usually get them back. I did have one stay at the Park Hyatt Auckland that was supposed to be canceled 48 hours prior. I chatted with Hyatt and mentioned that I was a Globalist, and she got that waived. In my opinion, it is much easier to change your plans when you are booking with points and miles.


  • Cash bookings were harder to cancel. I had booked a hotel on Hotels.com and one on Expedia, and they would charge me for these because it was late to cancel. I didn’t let it just end that way and emailed each hotel, begging for consideration. One said they wouldn’t charge me. One gave me 50% back. Hey, better than nothing!


  • We decided to stay in Sydney for two more days because the weather was terrific, as were the beaches. I used two annual night certificates to stay at the Hyatt Regency. Again, points to the rescue, and we got a suite upgrade!


  • I had to change my car rentals – this was easy. We booked through Discover Cars in New Zealand and they had no problem with the cancellations.


  • Canceling tours via Viator and Get Your Guide was easy. As long as you cancel 24 hours before the tour, you are good to go.


  • We had a flight from Sydney to Auckland booked on LATAM via Expedia. I learned they have a horrible cancellation policy; we lost money on that one. However, using some money and avoiding that weather was totally worth it. And it doesn’t hurt quite as much to lose some money when most of your trip is on points and miles.


  • Booking an extended stay in Queenstown was easy, thanks to many options with credit card points and miles. We even booked a longer stay near Milford Sound, which I wanted to have anyway! Turning lemons into lemonade!


Bottom Line

Yep, even for us experienced travel hackers, weather (and other life situations) can happen, and we have to figure out what to do when vacation plans change rapidly. I spent several hours working this all out, but it turned out fine. We will miss the sites of the North Island of New Zealand but battling extreme weather conditions was not how I wanted to see them. We loved Sydney and want to return, so we will add the North Island of New Zealand to that trip.

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