Laid off? Take off! Intrepid extends deal

Layoffs may be slowing down a little, but they’re still coming. So, if you need to disappear to collect your thoughts for a while, Intrepid Travel is still willing to help. The company has extended its 15 percent discount for recent layoff victims, which are good on more than 400 Intrepid adventures in more than 90 countries. The catch? You need to book by the last day of 2009.

To take advantage of the “Laid Off Take Off” deal, all you need to do is show proof that you were laid off since 2008, and you’re in. Even without the discount, Intrepid’s trips tend to cost less than $100 a day, including accommodations, land transportation, local guides and some meals. Small groups, public transportation and local restaurant and hotel participants add a bit of authenticity to the experience.

According to Darrell Wade, co-founder of Intrepid Travel, “Our Thailand trips start from $45 a day and many people have told us they can’t live at home for that, so as strange as it sounds, they save money by traveling. We’ve been traveling to the region for 20 years and our trips are jam packed with the kind of experiences that will take people away from the every day and give them time to reassess and work out their next move.”

The “Laid Off Take Off” deal was kicked off last November, and since then, Asia has been the top destination, welcoming more than half of Intrepid’s guests under this program. Africa follows, with a bit over 27 percent of the bookings, and Latin American is next at 13.5 percent. Trips can stretch from eight to 60 days, with an average of 18.

Roll the dice with “job-loss guarantees”

It makes a lot of sense right now. You have a job, and you’re feeling comfortable in it. You’ve survived the latest round of layoffs, and it looks like the bleeding has stopped for a while. Or, you’re just so stressed out you throw caution to the wind and book a vacation, just so you can recharge a bit.

But, you aren’t reckless.

Because we all live and work in a world at financial risk, you had the presence of mind to take advantage of a “job-loss guarantee.” If you lose your job, you get your money back … maybe. It turns out that guarantees aren’t always guaranteed. Several travel companies – including JetBlue and Norwegian Cruise Line – the rules are being tweaked.

Defining “job” can be the tough part. Several programs require that you be employed for at least a year at your current gig and that it be full-time. But, it varies. Check the terms and conditions before you bank on this benefit.

Job loss” can be tricky, as well. If you were laid off, you seem to be in the best position to recoup what you’ve paid. But, if you were fired for cause, some programs may not pay. According to JetBlue, for example, “The spirit of the program is to accommodate those who have involuntarily lost their jobs due to the economy.” Resignations and buyout programs, also, may not qualify under some job-loss guarantee programs.

Be prepared to prove that you have lost your job. Chances are you’ll find something in the stack of paper that Human Resources gives you (usually your termination letter).

These programs can be helpful, but read the fine print. If you’re at all worried, spend your day off on your front stoop and hold onto your cash for a more stable time.