Check the cancellation and change fees
It doesn’t matter if you are booking your flights 6 months, 6 weeks, or 6 days before you are travelling, your plans may change between booking and travelling. Annual leave might not get approved, you might change your mind, your travel buddies might decide not to come, or you might get invited to a wedding or event that you can’t say no to. When you are booking your flights, ensure you know what the financial risk involved is. Is it going to cost you to make changes to the flights? Usually the cheaper the fare the more expensive the cancellation and change fees are.
A change fee is when you want to change the date or the destination you are flying to/from.
Sometimes changes are not permitted, sometimes it is at a fee. Usually this fee is X amount plus any fare and tax differences. This can be a couple of dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. The airline might be charging a $100 change fee, but you then pay the extra in the fare and tax differences. Cancellation is not always allowed either, once again, the cheaper the fare, the more likely it is going to be non refundable.
Even though you might now think that your trip is set in stone, always check this out. You might even be able to pay a little extra to have a more flexible fare. Even if you do take the non refundable, non changeable ticket, at least you are aware of this and know if something comes up in the future.
Either way, once you buy your ticket it’s now time to buy travel insurance that covers cancellation. For example: if you have paid $2000 for that airfare to London and $3000 for your tour around Europe, you will want to get travel insurance that has at least $5000 cancellation cover. If you need to cancel last minute say because a family member unexpectedly passes away and you can’t travel and need to change your plans, you should be able to cancel/amend your trip and get your money back. It’s things like this we don’t expect to happen, but this is why we get house, car, life insurance etc and it’s why we need travel insurance (it’s also why you need to get travel insurance when you are booking your flights/trip and not last minute before you leave).