Do you need to cancel or postpone your trip to the Balkans? Canceling a trip that you’ve already spent money on can be stressful, but if you travel frequently then it will probably happen at least once or twice! Allison and I have both had to cancel multiple international trips. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you postpone or cancel your trip to the Balkans.
This post covers how to postpone or cancel a trip to Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. For other Balkan countries, we have dedicated posts on canceling trips to Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia.
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How to Postpone or Cancel Your Trip to the Balkans
Here are the steps we use to move or cancel trips.
Step 1: Know Why You Need to Postpone or Cancel Your Balkans Trip
There are a lot of reasons someone might need to cancel a trip. While they’re all valid, different reasons will give you different coverage for getting your money back and require different documentation.
You might need to cancel because there is an international crisis or disaster affecting your destination and/or your home country and your ability to get to the Balkans.
Or the company handling your holiday package or your airline might go under. Or you might need to cancel for personal reasons, like a death in the family, canceled wedding or canceled honeymoon due to a breakup, getting sick or hospitalized right before or during a trip, or simply being in a terrible place emotionally to travel.
If you’re already on the trip, most likely you will simply need to cancel the remainder, but if you haven’t left yet you might want to just postpone for later.
Just start the process with a clear head about why you are canceling or postponing so that you can explain it when you reach out to companies.
Step 2. Research Your Travel Insurance, Credit Card Coverage, and Government Regulations
Check your travel insurance policy to see what it covers for cancellations or postponements. If your situation is covered, then reach out to them first to see how they want you to proceed. If you will need to make a travel insurance claim then you will want to make sure you follow their instructions to the letter.
For travel insurance, we use World Nomads, partially because some of their policies offer repatriation if your trip is canceled mid-way through due to a political situation (like borders closing). I’ve also had family who needed to cancel after getting injured during their trip, and their travel insurance covered their medical bills and their return emergency trip.
If you don’t have travel insurance, you might still be covered partially on your credit card. While it won’t cover things like repatriation or medical expenses, it gives you some peace of mind about hotel and flight expenses depending on the reason you cancel. Research your options for coverage and refunds through your credit cards so you know your options.
In certain situations, like mass political disputes, border closings, or natural disasters, governments might have policies in place to assist with evacuation and repatriation. Reach out to your government’s embassy if you’re already on your trip. If you haven’t left yet, but you’re worried that an ongoing political dispute will force you to cancel, follow your government’s safety warnings closely before deciding whether to go, cancel, or postpone your trip.
Finally, if your holiday or flight is canceled because of an international emergency or company bankruptcy, you should look up your country’s policies regarding these types of situations to see if you are protected. If something truly disruptive is happening, countries will often try to assist to the best of their abilities.
Step 3. Cancel or Postpone Your Flight and Transportation
If your travel insurance or credit card doesn’t give you steps to use to get refunds through them, then it’s time to reach out to your airline directly.
Airlines can be one of the trickiest places to get refunds. Even when they are SUPPOSED to issue refunds, like in cases of border closings, they can be late to cancel the flight and leave you wondering if your flight is ever going to be canceled so that you can even start the refund process. This is even more maddening if you’re trying to postpone your trip since they can charge very expensive change fees to move your flight if it hasn’t been canceled.
The best thing to do if you know your flight will be canceled is to wait until its official to get your refund or to reschedule.
Of course, there are many reasons you might need to change or postpone your flight that are out of your control but have nothing to do with your ability to get there. In these circumstances, you’ll need to work with the airline.
If you purchased a fully refundable airline ticket, canceling is usually straight forward. If you purchased your ticket using miles, many airlines will let you move your flight easily, though there might be a small fee.
However, if you purchased a non-refundable ticket with cash and you do not have insurance or credit card coverage, you’re at the airline’s mercy. Read your airline’s cancelation policy before you call so you know what you’re getting into.
If your reasons for needing to cancel are within their airline policy’s refund guidelines, you will work with them to give them the documentation they need.
If your reasons are not covered, I would still reach out and talk to them directly. While airlines aren’t known for being generous, I was able to get a flight on American Airlines rescheduled for free after talking to them about my situation for about two hours. The fee to move the flight would have been $200, which was almost as much as just booking a new ticket!
Be careful when rescheduling with budget airlines. I’ve seen situations from other travelers where Ryanair was charing more money to reschedule flights than it would have cost just to book a new one!
If you are postponing a flight but you won’t be picking new dates yet, be careful about taking a voucher. Some airlines, especially budget airlines, might not be in business by the time you’re looking to use it!
If you’ve booked other transportation options, like train tickets, a rental car, or bus tickets, reach out to those companies to cancel individually.
Step 4. Cancel Your Prepaid Accommodations
If you’re working with your insurance or credit card for a refund, follow their instructions. However, if you’re on your own, use these instructions.
If you booked through an online booking website like Booking.com (which is what we use), then go to the website to cancel first. One reason we suggest Booking.com is that they have rooms you can book with pretty generous cancellation fees. Also, if you need to cancel because you have a dispute with your hotel, they can help you mediate the situation.
I’ve been in situations where rooms were not as advertised, and they were able to get me a refund when the hotel refused.
If you booked directly through the hotel, reach out to them and let them know your situation. If you booked a fully-refundable room, they should be able to help you right away.
If you booked a non-refundable room, it never hurts to call and ask for a refund anyway. They may not give you a refund, but they may give you credits for a future stay or partial refund.
Remember, if the world is going through a major economic disruption, hotels and accommodations may go out of business. So while it’s better to postpone a trip if you can, be careful about taking vouchers from businesses that might not be open later IF you don’t have travel insurance coverage or a guarantee from your credit card.
Step 5. Cancel any Prepaid Activities
If you don’t have insurance or credit card coverage, then you’ll need to do these individually. The earlier you reach out, the better!
If you booked through GetYourGuide, Viator, or AirBnB start there. Some tours have very generous cancellation policies, while others are more strict. These are usually different on different tours, but you will cancel through the portal you booked them through.
If you can reschedule these, do. Since you’ll be backed through the website, if the tour operator goes out of business you can use the credits through them to book a different tour company.
If you booked a tour through your accommodation, talk to them when you discuss your room cancellation.
If you booked directly through a tour operator, read up on their cancellation policies and reach out directly. Let them know why you need to cancel.
Many tour operators in the Balkans are small companies with a very small staff. In this situation, if you’ve already paid, it’s kinder to reschedule if that’s possible. These are the companies that hurt the most when the economy tanks and tourism takes a hit.
Step 6. Return Any Items You Won’t Use
So you went through our Balkans packing lists and bought something just for your trip? Be honest about whether or not you’ll use them. If you bought a guidebook and you’re just postponing, then keep it! But if you bought a guidebook and now you won’t be going to the Balkans at all, it’s okay to return it and get your money back.
Just think about what you bought and if it will be nice to have it even if you won’t be traveling. Cute clothes or nice shoes probably stay on the keep-it list, but a neck pillow for a transatlantic flight would probably go back.
If you’re postponing your trip to a different part of the year, think about if you purchased seasonal items that you don’t need that won’t make sense later. A summer Albania beaches trip might have cute bathing suites, whereas a Tirana Christmas Market might require a cozy jacket instead.
Step 7. Cancel or Postpone Anything You Scheduled that’s Not Prepaid
Maybe you reached out to a friend and said you’d be in town and now you won’t be. Or maybe you booked a tour company where you pay on the day of the tour. Cancel anything that you didn’t already pay for but where you booked someone’s time or where you reserved a space that they can’t give away if they don’t know you’re not coming. This also includes any free tour reservations, restaurant reservations, etc.
If you’re postponing with specific dates, then reschedule. But if you don’t know when your trip will be, circle back to these for rescheduling later.
When You’re Ready to Plan Your Trip Again, We Have You Covered!
When you’re ready to start planning a new trip to the Balkans (or when your postponed trip is in the works), check out our Balkans travel resources.
First read our tips for planning a Balkans itinerary, Balkans travel tips, Balkans backpacking tips, and information on planning a trip for each country (Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia).
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to the Balkans, bookmark our Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to the Balkans with Travel Insurance!
If you can’t tell from this post, I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in the Balkans or anywhere in the world! When you’re ready to plan your next Balkans trip, make sure to think about what kind of coverage suits your needs.
We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Slovenia is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin This Guide Canceling or Postponing Your Trip to the Balkans
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.