Upon Further Review, The Call on the Field is Reversed

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Don’t tell my husband, but from time to time I make mistakes. I know, shocking! 😉 Yesterday we had to make a quick game-time decision about whether to proceed with our ski trip as planned, or pull the emergency eject cord due to my daughter being under the weather. She started to get sick the day before the trip, but it seemed to just be a cold. Not ideal, but pretty common this time of year. I kept her home from pre-school and did everything I could to try and influence the cold to be a little cold instead of a BIG COLD. She definitely wasn’t 100%, but I didn’t think the cold was bad enough to cancel a trip and lose out on a chunk of non-refundable stuff (not to mention a bunch of family fun). Lord, barely a week goes by in our house where someone doesn’t have the sniffles!

So, since she wasn’t really acting sick and had no fever present, we decided to adjust expectations for our trip accordingly and forge ahead. We knew the chances of her going to ski school were now pretty low, and we would likely just be doing the tag team relay if either of us was going to go ski, but that was okay. Such is the life of parents. We would be in the mountains together, and hopefully she would feel good enough to have some fun in the snow. And for the first day she did.


And then we spent most of the first night up with her as she got sicker. I won’t get into the details, but let’s just say coughs weren’t just bringing up air. We got just enough sleep to send my husband to the slopes in the morning while I stayed at the hotel with C. I got the brilliant idea of creating a steam room in the bathroom to help her breathe better. We played iPad on a pile of towels and breathed in steam – free spa treatments for everyone!



….and then the steam set off the very loud hotel fire alarms. Oh boy.

Naturally this really upset the already sick and temperamental three year old, so we got out of the room as quickly as possible after talking to the hotel folks to let them know what happened.

While we were downstairs escaping the loud alarms, she said she wanted a “big breakfast”, so she and I went fully decked out in jammies, snow boots, and jackets to the Sunday Breakfast Brunch inside the hotel. We made our plates, got comfy in the booth, were enjoying the mountain view, and life was relatively good.


And then she coughed so hard she threw up all over the table and horrified the table next to us. Yep, that was us. They gave me a lot of coffee to go – quickly.


So, to recap, we went from a moderate cold to a fire alarm evacuation and a contaminated brunch in no time at all. Her illness got worse from there. It became an all systems failure, and the prospect of even leaving the hotel room on the trip became pretty remote. Heck, just giving up and flying home wasn’t even a realistic option for her at this point. She will be fine, but this virus is going to have to just run its course.  So, apparently I made the wrong decision in proceeding ahead with the trip. With a sick kid on the day of departure you are either going all-in or folding. We pushed our luck, and it wasn’t the right call this time.

And then another chance to make a big call presented itself. Grandma called and offered to put on her cape and fly to spend the last couple days or our trip with C so that we could get out and do a few things together. I did what any self respecting miles junkie would do – immediately burned 25K United miles on a last minute round trip ticket for her. Well, truthfully I did think about the generous request for a bit as I didn’t want her to come if it was just going to be throwing good miles/money after bad. However, we all came up with a plan on how to meet everyone’s needs given C’s situation, and then I booked her ticket. And she scored a free upgrade – more on that later.

None of us wanted her to be uncomfortable while helping us, so we pleaded with our current SPG hotel to bump us from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom. It took an extra co-pay, but we now have plenty of space for Super Grandma to help us salvage the trip, and it was cheaper than booking another room for her.


Family travel has so many “exciting” elements to it – and associated really hard calls. Sometimes you get them right. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you have a Super Grandma to hopefully bail you out. Thank goodness for miles because a $1,000 last minute ticket wouldn’t have been a realistic possibility. Fingers crossed that our sick snow bunny gets better soon so she can enjoy the mountains with us.


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  1. Nothing more challenging than traveling with a sick child.

    You made plenty of lemonade from the hand you were dealt — once you are “all-in” — it’s imperative that you do everything in your power to enjoy your trip.

    (Traveling with my family of four from Montreal-JFK-LAX recently, we missed our connection at JFK due to weather so there was no obligation for AA to put us up. JFK dingy hotels were going for $250 for two double beds so instead of doing that and flying out at 7a and everyone being miserable, I booked us into an Andaz Suite on points and we enjoyed our last day in NYC.)

  2. Those Little C pictures reminded me of the time I ate a bad oyster at the TWA Ambassador’s Lounge at JFK back in the early 90s. I didn’t need a seat, they might as well have assigned me the lavatory. It pretty much ruined our ski trip for the first couple of days. Hope she bounces back. And don’t let her eat any oysters in Colorado.

  3. Michael, so true. Absolutely agree that our “job” is now to enjoy the trip as much as possible given everyone’s investment time/money. Sounds like you all did a great job of making lemonade in NYC as well!
    Roger, food poisoning is the worst! You are just totally helpless until it passes.
    Alanea, yeah she is saving the day for sure!

  4. Poor baby! I hope she gets well soon and huge props to Super Grandma! I think you totally made the right call, though, because when it comes to illness and travel, you never know if it’ll get better or worse. Obviously when it’s the latter, hindsight is 20/20, and when it’s the former, you’d be congratulating yourself on making the genius decision to move forward!

  5. Welcome to Colorado, home of norovirus. Both my 3 and 1-year olds had it. Is there anything worse than seeing your babies sick? (Well, maybe being on vacation…ok, you “win”). At least you don’t have an extra ~$500 day on your rental car this year.

  6. Hopefully she gets well quickly but being a parent means your interests are secondary to your child or children. Maybe purchasing insurance is the best thing to do and when someone is sick cancel the trip and hopefully get the money back.

    And I’m sure someone will say I’m not a parent and they are right but I was a child and do remember the things my parents did and did not do.

    Trying to be a frequent traveler while being a mother to a 3 yr old is not a wise thing to do.

  7. Holy Cow! I do think you made the right decision to go though. I canceled a beach trip (for 5 of us)and the child was 100% just 2 days later. Talk about regrets. You now have a story for the books and super grandma will never forget how she saved the day 🙂

  8. Poor baby! My eight month old was very similar last year at Keystone. Thank God for the wonderful urgent care in Dillon! You never know with these things….

  9. FreeTravelGuys, flu season has been rough. Thank goodness that isn’t what we have!
    Cat, it is a tough call and sometimes you guess right, and sometimes you don’t. 😉
    Blaine, we did the rotovirus a few weeks ago. That was a real treat!
    TexasYankee, always a silver lining!
    Rich, I hear where you are coming from. However, I don’t know of any insurance that would cover a cold with no fever. All she had was a runny nose and a mild cough when we left, which with toddlers is extremely frequent (at least if they are exposed to other kids). We differ in opinion on whether traveling with a three year old is a good idea, but obviously this time we guessed wrong. Her needs always come first, but sometimes what is best is hard to see without a crystal ball.
    Jacki, that stinks! So hard to know though.
    Stephanie, oh no! Even scarier with a under one year old. Glad you found some good folks to help!

  10. Cat said just about what I was going to say. As parents – indeed as people! – we make the best decision we can at the time we are making it and some of the time we call it wrong. I remember when my daughter was small, trying to decide if we should go on a long-planned trip to Disney World when she began to show signs of getting sick. We went and she managed fine, most of the time anyway. You are lucky to have a grandma who can swoop in. Enjoy!

  11. @TexasYankee – No CVS in the entire state of Colorado! At least you guys don’t live here, VR is completely dead as
    WG stopped accepting CC for VR a few weeks ago and since there’s no CVS we’re stuck.
    @MP – My wife is a preschool teacher here in Denver and says all her kids are sick. She even carrier monkey’d it home and infected me. So I was sick as a dog and spent the night sleeping on a chair in the Kansas City Southwest terminal the day after Xmas. We had 4 flights for the entire trip and ALL of them were at least an hour late. It was a disaster. How long are you guys here for?

  12. Ah, we took the norovirus to MO from DEN on Christmas day – fortunately my 2 yo waited until we got to Grandpa’s house to puke, and then I got it, and then the 4 yo (but he puked in the rental car – ugh). Merry Xmas, y’all…

    The steam was a good call (to a point…=)- the dry air here makes it so hard to breathe on a good day. A humidifier would be a good idea – many ski condos have them, so it’s not so far-fetched to think the hotel would provide one for you.

    The day we left for Kauai in 2011 my then 2.5 yo felt a little warm and was moving slow – but we went anyway. He pretty much slept and chilled with Grandma and Grandpa on the long flight and was in tip-top shape the next day, so it’s always a crap shoot.

    The joys of watching children experience new things will always outweigh the struggles of traveling with them.

  13. I love that you are just laying this out there for us all to read! As a confirmed non-parent I do look at this as just another reason not to have kids, though!

    Hope nobody else gets sick. It’s that time of year…

  14. Rob – another reason not to have kids? Wtf? I’m sure adults never get sick like this (rolls eyes). Not to drive away readers, but why follow this blog then?

  15. I can very much relate to this as we own a ski house in VT and have been going up with our two little ones since they were babies. Sometimes the mountain air helps and sometimes the travel/away from home thing hurts.
    You scored HUGE having grandma fly in to help and on a last minute low cost award to boot! I hope your girl gets better (I enjoy all your stories of travel with her cuz we fly with our kids too but to be frank I do sometimes wonder if you reveal too much personal information in this blog for all the nut cases out there) and I hope you and yours enjoy some couple time now that the trip has become a bigger family vacation.
    My wife has a short trip planned for Wed to see family overseas but the godz of miles are definitely messing with us as they have with you. First she suffered a completely immobilizing pinched nerve in her back on Fri, thusly rendering our planned MLK ski weekend no longer doable, and while she is getting increasingly better and is pumped up on 3 perspribed medicines, now our 4 year old son has a tempurature and constant cough that is worsening as her trip grows near. He’s more mommy-centric than our daughter (who is more daddy-cenric) and so she’s really at odds with leaving a sick child and hobbling through airports just to get her well-deserved “me time” that she really does deserve. So do we cancel and try to plead with US Airways on how best to proceed or does she go and leave daddy to deal with the cries of a child who may not even make it to school all week if this continues?

  16. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. I hate to be the one to say it but this is why they tell people to stay home when we are sick so we don’t spread it to others. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your trip and she gets well soon.

  17. Our daughter got sick the day before our trip to Sedona last year. we made the best out of it… had to cut some days short but at least we were together somewhere new.

    We have that same red iPad cover too lol 🙂 iPad was our best friend.

  18. MP: This sounds a little similar to our Christmas vacation, which was luckily (?) a roadtrip. We intended to leave early Saturday morning before CMAS. The night before our 4 yr old started throwing up. We were up all night with that, and then near morning the 6 yr old joined in, but just once. So, we delayed and decided to wait and see that day. Everyone seemed fine that day, and we almost decided to leave late afternoon and get a few hours of driving in that night. But then 4yo had a fever. So, she slept all afternoon, then fever was gone, but we let them sleep in and see what happens. Leave sunday morning, drive all day, stop for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Nashville – 4 yo gets sick at the table. Luckily, only on herself, but all over herself. So, I dash to the bathroom with her. Take all of her clothes off and put my long sleeve t-shirt on her, get a garbage bag from staff and put all of the yucky stuff in it. Hit the road again, stay overnight in a hotel. Next day torrential rain, and then 6yo gets sick in the minivan. I call my sister and offer to stay at a hotel that night, rather than bringing germs to her house. She says it, OK, we should come stay anyway. So, we do. But skip Christmas get together with whole family. And ta-dah, no one else gets sick. I had a day or two where I felt not great, but my husband never even had a twinge, even after being in a car for 2 days straight with two sick kiddos.
    PS, I think you made the right decision (although perhaps brunch was a bad idea lol). I’d never cancel a trip for a preschooler with a cold. They seem to spend the entire winter with sniffles. If it was a tummy bug, probably stay home, but it’s a tough decision, you’re throwing tons of money away, maybe even if you have insurance. Those of us with kids have to do our best to minimize their impact on other travelers, but frankly grownups can be loud and annoying on planes, and other places, too.

  19. -Thanks to all who have shared similar stories – it is absolutely something all traveling families will eventually face (sadly)!
    -For those without kids, the reality is many/most kids get sick a bunch the first 5 years, and still some after that. It impacts your work, your trips, everything. You do have to be ready for that reality, but the upsides still way way outweigh the downsides for me. But, your life is no longer your own. 😉
    -I wish life worked that you could just stay home if you were sick. But whether it is work requirements, non-refundable trips, or just needing groceries, it really isn’t all that possible sometimes. Everyone needs to wash their hands and be as respectful and thoughtful as possible, but sometimes that is all you can do. Of course if you are actively very sick that is a different story.
    -We are very very lucky to have a super grandma. She can’t always swoop in to save us, but we are very lucky she can this time.
    -Yes, I probably over-share. 😉

  20. Ah, arent kids wonderful!! Cherish these moments. No one w/o kids or with grown kids has these stories. Excitement Intrigue Frustration Joy Anger all within 5-10 minutes. And an excellent story to tell for yrs to come.

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