Click on the questions below for our latest thoughts and updates on planning in the time of Covid.
Is it safe to travel now? Is it even possible? I can’t keep up. What’s the picture?
The picture at the moment is still complex and ever-changing. Many countries have far-advanced vaccination programmes, and many don’t. There are countries which you can visit with very little restriction, others that are still locked down. There are some where non-essential travel is possible, but with certain rules and requirements for entry, and others where you’ll have to quarantine when you return home. As a general rule, things are opening up, but fourth waves, spikes or reciprocal arrangements can see closures or restrictions suddenly put into place. Which means that understanding the risks involved in travel, and understanding your own risk tolerance levels, are critical for good trip planning. Just like always.
If I do travel, is it fun when I get there? Is anything open? Is it responsible? Is it worth the risk?
These are relative questions which each person would answer differently. The answers also differ greatly from one country to another, one trip to another. But after over a year of pretty generalised shut down, many countries are beginning to open up in such a way that makes the idea of meaningful travel possible and enjoyable. Or, if they’re not yet opening up, they’re making time-lines to come out of lockdown. Many of our planning team live in the countries in which they plan, and can give first-hand, accurate and up-to-date reports on life on the ground right now, as well as information on the near-term travel horizon. To consider the feasibility, fun and responsibility of a specific trip, now is a good time to start a conversation with our planners, and compare travel wishes and ambitions with Covid realities and restrictions.
What if I book a trip for, say, September 2021 and it ends up being impossible – what are cancellation policies like, and what insurance can I buy?
There are two types of scenarios that can make travel impossible: those involving personal circumstances, and those involving external factors such as border closures or quarantine measures. If your trip is confirmed but you unexpectedly need to cancel for reasons that are medical, personal or professional, then travel insurance is where you would turn. We highly recommend travel insurance – personal reasons are still the #1 reason for travel cancellations – and we can walk you through the various coverage options including CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason). If your trip is confirmed, but a country’s entry requirements change in such a way as to disrupt your plans or prevent you from travelling, travel insurance will not protect you. However, Trufflepig has been working hard behind the scenes to negotiate fully-refundable or highly flexible terms with our suppliers wherever possible.
How did Trufflepig handle cancellations and postponements for the trips you had planned for 2020?
At this point in the pandemic, we have a track record on handling ‘unforeseen’ circumstances. When Covid hit we had the lion’s share of our trips for 2020 all planned, paid up and ready to roll. We also had a bullet proof and time-tested set of Terms & Conditions to protect both us and our clients during the normal course of business. But pretty quickly we ripped those up, and in place of a wasp’s nest of small print and legalese, we used our values, relationships and sense of fairness to guide us. Correction, we used our sense of Fair + 1. We postponed, cancelled, refunded, credited, rearranged, explained, negotiated, and in the course of many, many thousands of conversations, we had about 5 arguments, and none of those with clients. So this is our non scientific, imprecise, but entirely human and meaningful way of saying that we know what fairness looks like, and our record speaks for itself.
Aside from the whole COVID situation, I’m new to Trufflepig and simply wondering how you work. I have questions that aren’t answered here. Where can I look?
You’re reading our Covid W.T.FAQ, intended to answer questions specific to the problems of planning in the time of Covid. We really look forward to taking this section down. For our normal modes of functioning, you can look at our How It Works section, or at our Common Questions. Or email us on email@example.com.
Will my travel dollars go to those who need it most? How can I use my travel dollars to support a version of tourism that is good for all?
Great question. Considerations of the impact of our trips and of the money that goes into them has always been front and centre of our planning process. You can read about it in depth in the Hoofprint section of our site. Our approach has always been that our trips must be beneficial for the three ‘stakeholders’: the client, the environments in which we operate, and the Trufflepig community (including our staff as well as our partners and suppliers). That means working with smaller locally-owned businesses; it means directing what tourism traffic we produce away from the over-visited hot spots to the lesser known places where the dollars are more welcome, more helpful, and have less negative impact. It means taking into consideration the questions of C02 emissions and of pollution, as well as of cultural impact and social equality. We have recently completed and submitted our B-Corps application to help us align our operations with our ambitions in this regard. We actively encourage you to engage in these questions with us, and get involved in them as part of the planning of your trip. Even if you don’t, you can be sure that we are thinking in these terms as we work hard to produce a trip that will answer your request, and more.
You’re a travel company but there’s been no travel for 12+ months. What have you been doing with your time?
After 17 years of running trips around the world, one thing we have is a lot of contacts, and so a great deal of 2020/1 has been spent talking with our clients, our suppliers, our partners and even – gasp – our competitors. Aside from the obvious challenges of managing a travel business in a total travel shut-down (while home-schooling), we’ve tried to identify the opportunities arising from an imposed lull in activity and a pause for reflection. We’ve identified, encouraged and joined a number of carefully selected groups and affiliations working to tackle the problems of leisure travel’s negative impacts on the global climate and on local environments, as well as to encourage the beneficial outcomes tourism can create for fragile eco-systems and cultures. We’ve completed and submitted our B-Corps application. We’re doing lots of engineering work backstage (read: computer systems). We have been reading, shooting photographs, and writing (check out our magazine, The Sounder). And of course we’ve been arranging and re-arranging travel for our clients whom we never, ever leave high and dry.