I saved £9,000 over five years to go travelling, but have lost thousands due to COVID-19

‘For me, this was a once in a lifetime trip’

Emily* was on a beach in Sydney when she first saw news of the coronavirus outbreak. Within a few days she realised her six-month trip, that took five years of saving and three years of planning would have to be cut short.

At 16, Emily decided she’d love to travel around and so started saving. Five years later, after multiple waitressing jobs through school and uni, she managed to save £9,000 and booked her dream trip.

She finished uni in June and started travelling in January. She began in New Zealand, then went to Australia and then planned to go to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and then Japan. Unfortunately, two months in, she had to cancel her plans and come back to the UK.

£3,500 was already spent on her two-month trip around Australia and New Zealand. Luckily, she was then able to get £2,000 refunded from tours around China. However, she’s lost out on over £3,000 worth of missed flights and tours, as well as expenses to get her back home. She has £600 left, no job and will have to start saving again to be able to complete her trip in the future.

This is her story:

My insurance doesn’t cover any of my flights or my tours

As no one predicted coronavirus would happen, there aren’t many insurance companies that actually cover it. She told me: “None of my flights are covered by insurance for this type of issue. It’s like the one thing that no one expects so you don’t look for it in your insurance terms and conditions. So for this I’ll lose about £1,000.

“Loads of airlines won’t refund tickets as well because they say routes are ‘still running’. For example, my flight to China is apparently still running and the airline isn’t willing to refund it knowing that everyone’s trying to transit home.”

On top of this, just over £1,000 was lost on tours and things she booked which were nonrefundable – “a lot of tour companies aren’t refunding just giving credit towards future tours which is bullshit, as no one knows when this is going to end.”

I’ve also had to spend so much money on new flights and connections to try and get home

On top of the money she lost, she’s had to pay excessive amounts to try and get home from the other side of the world, while loads of airlines aren’t running.

She told me: “A lot of the money I’ve lost includes the expenditure it’s taken to try and change flights. I’ve also spent a lot of money going back and fourth from the airport to try and sort my flights because so much is cancelled.

“My connection home is insane. I’m currently in Bali, then flying from here to Bangkok. Bangkok to Dubai and then Dubai to London”.

I’m anxious to come home now I have no job and no money

Aside from being devastated the trip has been cut short and so much money has been lost, she said she feels “really anxious to come home.”

She explained: “To prevent me from coming home with no job, I planned to make arrangements before the end of my trip but obviously with the sudden change in circumstances I had no time to do this.

“I’ll be looking for any work that will take me. Maybe even try and get my old job back. I really want to complete this trip, so I just need to work until I have the money again.”

I can’t see my family for two weeks

As she’s been travelling around various countries with cases of coronavirus, she needs to quarantine for two weeks. This makes the situation more upsetting as she’s desperate to see her family. She especially wants to see her dad, but he’s vulnerable, being over 70 and with existing health conditions. She also explained that she’s scared about what she’s coming home to and what she’s leaving behind and wants the support from her friends and family.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I’m gutted it’s over

For some people going travelling is just a long holiday that you do because everyone else has, but for her, it was a once in a lifetime trip which she’s sad to see end so quickly.

She explained: “When you save for this trip you save for it knowing it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, you set aside however many months of your life and dedicate it to travelling. Now there’s just a big hole in my life that I need try and fill with work or something so I can go travelling again.

“It’s obviously completely unexpected and many people are in far worse positions, but equally I think travellers are allowed to feel disappointed and frustrated”.

*name changed

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