Given the unprecedented disruption to global travel, Next Adventure and our partners share, respect and understand your concerns about your future travel arrangements. We are all committed to helping travelers find an appropriate resolution for their specific circumstances and to make this process as positive and straightforward as we can.
Generally speaking, there are three paths for travelers to consider:
- Wait-and-See: We can wait until closer to your departure date to see if it will be possible for you to travel as planned. Next Adventure is automatically delaying final payments until 6-8 weeks prior to departure to allow this assessment time.
- Postpone & Reschedule: We can work together to reschedule your travel arrangements. Next Adventure is having success rebooking trips (often for identical dates) in 2021 with minimal rate changes. We are currently focused on rescheduling trips on a case-by-case basis for departures in the next 60 days as our partners are addressing requests in order, and we appreciate patience and understanding as we navigate availability.
- Cancel: You may cancel your trip without rebooking and forfeit the deposit as per our Participation Agreement. In this case, you may consider filing a claim with travel insurance and provide documentation per the policy details. Please note, canceling out of concern for travel or government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not usually a covered reason unfortunately.
What to expect when postponing your trip
While it is surely a disappointment to wait even longer for your safari, Next Adventure travelers have a great team working for them. Generally, there are 3 major components that are involved in re-booking travel:
- Ground Arrangements (with Next Adventure) – Based on your preferred travel window, Next Adventure collaborates with our partners to re-book services in Africa.
- Insurance (with Travel Insured or another provider) – Travelers can easily change the dates of travel for existing travel insurance policies to cover the new travel dates
- Flights (with AirTreks, another flight agency or booked direct) – Most airlines are issuing credits or vouchers to rebook tickets, but in many cases it is a slow and mysterious process.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these components and how the processes are unfolding:
Ground Arrangements – Next Adventure
As we work with hundreds of partners in East & Southern Africa, it is not possible to have one single approach or policy. Generally speaking, we are able to offer travelers a postponement within 10-18 months, depending on the destination and partners. Deposits are kept as a credit towards rescheduled trips, but please be aware that seasonal or annual rate differences may apply when shifting to new dates. The balance payment will be due 10 weeks prior to the new date of departure.
Once we have identified new available dates for your trip, most services, including gorilla permits, light aircraft transfers and accommodations, can be transferred seamlessly. You may encounter minor changes and cancellation fees, but the overall change in cost will be kept as minimal as possible. Most partners are able to honor the same rates, unless there is a change of season i.e. from low to high season.
This step usually takes about a week or two to fully rebook the ground services, and Next Adventure will send you a revised Confirmation Voucher outlining the new dates and services.
Insurance – Travel Insured or another provider
- If you wish to release your reservations without rebooking, standard cancellation penalties apply per our Participation Agreement. We need your notification in writing to begin this process. Travel insurance coverage and policies vary widely, so please review your insurance documents carefully.
- When rescheduling a trip, travelers can shift existing travel insurance policies to cover the new dates (https://help.travelinsured.com/s/article/How-to-Modify-Your-Travel-Dates).
Here is a Travel Insured link with further information on coverage during the current circumstances: https://www.travelinsured.com/coronavirus/. Other insurance companies have released similar statements.
Flights – AirTreks, another flight agency or booked direct
This step is completely dependent on how your flights were booked, and it is also the slowest and most mysterious part of the process. Most airlines are issuing credits or vouchers to rebook tickets, but their customer services systems are completely overwhelmed and refunds are scarce or slow. Please be aware that flight schedules only open 11 months prior to departure, and we expect we all need to be patient with this process.
For guests who are Canceling or Postponing travel or for New Bookings:
- Even though this may not yield the swiftest of results, continue to contact AirTreks at [email protected] (or the airline or ticket issuer) to notify them about your preference to cancel or reschedule your trip.
- In some cases, AirTreks (or the airline or ticket issuer) will start the refund process right away. In others, they may advise waiting until closer to departure to see if the airline offers more flexible options with COVID-19 policies that cover your specific travel dates. AirTreks will work with each guest and accommodate them based on their particular booking.
- When AirTreks has confidence that the flight schedules are updated/accurate and unlikely to be cancelled or changed, you will be advised in order to start rebooking. For guests traveling in 2021, flight schedules will not be available until we are within 11 months of the travel dates. As stated by AirTreks, “We are in daily contact with our peers at over 80 global airlines monitoring the situation so when the gates open, we will notify you.”
- AirTreks is building a new Customer Portal, which allows guests to log in and see their trip, and the status of refunds/credits/cancellations.
- They expect it will take 2 or 3 months until airlines reach full resolutions on the exact refunds and credits will be met.
Next Adventure continues to monitor and evaluate the health intelligence reports we receive from governmental and private sources. We have an unprecedented record of safe operations in our 25 years of existence, and we will continue to exercise our established risk management program. Safety and the well-being of our travelers is our highest priority.
We hope this overview offers a helpful perspective on the various players and processes at play, and we are so grateful for your support, patience and understanding during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with our ecotourism and conservation partners in Africa as they weather the storm. Hopefully, we will all be enjoying Africa’s spectacular wilderness areas and warm hospitality very soon, and we encourage you to get in touch with us whenever you have any questions.