Hesitation When Canceling a Very Big Trip

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Last summer my family had this big idea to spend some time in Ireland next summer.  We wanted to deviate from our normal travel patterns and go for more than just a couple days.  We wanted to rent a cottage and pretend we lived there for a couple of weeks.  My husband finally had been with his company long enough to earn enough leave to be gone more than a few days here and there, our daughter was going to be plenty old enough for that sort of adventure, and we were all very excited about trading a few weeks of Texas heat for the green hills of Ireland.


We used our British Airways Travel Together Certificate we earned by putting $30k in a calendar year on our British Airways Visa Signature® Card and 150,000 total British Airways Avios to book us all in British Airways First Class on the outbound flight, planned to stay a few nights on points in London, and ultimately would be returning from Dublin in business class on Aer Lingus, also booked with Avios to Boston for 25,000 Avios each.

It took a good amount of searching, work, and phone calls to put all those pieces together.  We were more excited about our time on the ground in Ireland than the premium cabin flights, but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t at least a little bit excited about those, too.  We had been saving up our Avios for such a splurge for a long time, and it was kind of like watching a piece of art come together to see all of our different miles and points work in harmony to make this big and exciting trip possible.  That may seem like an over the top description, but for me it was 100% true.

Then since last summer a whole bunch of life happened.

First the great news was that we found out I was expecting our second child next summer.  The due date and timing of the trip made it unlikely it would have been realistic to go on the journey, but I resisted cancelling for a very long time.  Then, this winter my husband unexpectedly found himself looking for a new job.  This made money extremely tight overnight, and it also made knowing advance schedules impossible.  There was no way to know if he would have a job by the summer, or if he did have a job, it was very likely he couldn’t get that much time off in a new position.

For many reasons, the trip now really had to be cancelled, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  To conserve cash I could bring myself to cut-off cable, cancel the gym membership, stop eating out very much, stop booking new trips, etc. but I couldn’t bring myself to “destroy” this amazing family trip I had pieced together.  I simply wasn’t done day-dreaming about it.

At least a dozen times I logged on to British Airways to cancel the flights only to close the page without actually pushing the cancel button.  With all the chaos and changes our family was experiencing at an increasingly rapid rate, I don’t really know why this one obvious task was so difficult for me to complete, but it was.

Even though I knew it was just a matter of time before I had to press the “cancel” button, what made me finally do it was knowing that we needed to get started on really prepping for this new baby.  We needed some baby gear.  Our older daughter needed to move to a “big girl” room.  There were “need to have” and “very nice to have” purchases that needed to be made, and if we canceled the trip and got the (pretty hefty) amount of taxes and fees paid to British Airways back then that could easily take care of some of the things we were needing to obtain for our daughters.  Practicality won out over continued dreaming.  Who knew that paying big fuel surcharges could be so useful…from a certain point of view?!

Canceling a Big Trip

In light of very tight budgets and stressful days, it suddenly became pretty easy to turn what would have been an amazing family vacation into practical and needed items for the family.  I logged on a few days ago and was easily able to cancel the reservations online and get a refund of the taxes/fee and Avios paid minus $55 per person.

It really took me months to come to terms with not taking the family vacation that we had been dreaming of, and that took so much time and work to put together.  However, the reality is we will be on an even bigger adventure by the time we should have departed for Europe as we will be in our own home with a newborn baby.

Not to jinx it while it is still very new, but my husband just started on a new work adventure of his own this week.  More on that later as it really will be a change to how we travel and function, but fingers crossed it is a good fit and we can put this chapter of uncertainty behind us.  Lots of changes around here, and not going on our big European adventure this summer is just one of many, albeit one that took a while to for me to come to terms with.

Have you ever had a hard time pulling the plug on a big trip that you put a lot of effort into building?

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  1. I hope you and your family get to make the trip in the near future. I’ve always wanted to do the same type of trip to Italy.

    I am always hesitant to make vacation plans too far in advance. I always remember the line about “God laughs at our plans.” Still, I have also been hesitant to pull the plug on a trip when I know it must be cancelled.

    Anyway, best of luck to you and your growing family.

  2. Summer – Sounds like a tough one, and glad to hear the job situation is positive. Re: your redemption. 1) You are able to use the companion cert with an award redemption? I may have dismissed this as I summarily dismiss BA internationally due to fuel fees. 2) And similarly, it doesn’t look like you had crazy fuel charges even though flying BA through London?

  3. I had to cancel a trip to Tahiti last summer when my husband took a new job that moved us across the country. It wasn’t on points, and I found pretty decent airfare with Air Tahiti Nui’s kids fly free, but I just couldn’t justify the expense with a big move and buying a house in a new state. Like you, I tried to figure out how to cut things to make it work, but it just wasn’t going to work. It was a trip to visit my mom’s family (who I haven’t seen in 5 years), and my mom, siblings, and their families still went on the trip. I was pretty bummed, but not as sad as my 6 year-old who’s been begging to go to Tahiti for a while now. In the end it was the best move financially and I’m glad we didn’t get ourselves into debt for a trip, but it still really sucked.

  4. Summer canceling a big trip? Is this an April Fools joke? Lol

    2 years ago, I cancelled a planed trip to Italy when I started a new job. I couldn’t justify taking a big trip so early into a new job. However, the following year I was able to re-plan the Italy trip and had an amazing time.

    Hopefully you’ll get to experience Ireland in the future when your situation allows for it.

  5. Yes 🙁 I need to cancel our hotels on Kauai and haven’t been able to click cancel just yet. Not sure what I am waiting for…….our soon-to-be high school sophomore is now enrolled for a summer class the week we were planning on being in Hawaii AND we have decided to buy a new home instead of going on vacation. In my mind I am thinking that something could change and we will still take this trip so I hesitate to cancel. Yet, at the same time I know opening up that award space for others who may want it is the right thing to do. Like you, Summer, these are all nice reasons to have to cancel, but it is still the pits.

  6. You did not cancel it. You just postponed it. 🙂 More and better trips will come in the future. Great to hear about your husband and good luck on this new journey.

  7. Expecting a new baby is the best reason ever to cancel a trip! The beauty of youth (which I wish I still had ) is that you still have many years of travel adventures ahead of you. Good luck!

  8. Almost 2 years ago I was forced to cancel a big trip we planned to HKG after my wife’s job turned to crap and she had to find a new employer that turned out worse than the one she left and we had to move from STL to KC and couldn’t sell our house and on and on. Now we are still recovering from those events and my own job change to a company with low vacation expectations. We are getting ready to go on that trip to Hong Kong soon and we will enjoy it much more than forcing it. Although canceling it is painful you will recover in the future.

    Things will get better and there will be other trips. Now is the time to save for those trips and dream. Sure there may be some devaluations but it will work out. Besides you’ll need the miles and points to visit Grandparents and family 🙂 Ireland will still be there when your ready even if finding 4 award seats is harder than just 3 it will be worth it.

  9. I spent a long time planning the ultimate Hawaii vacation using points and miles. Day dreamed about it on a daily basis. It was a lot of work finding the award seats for 3 people to the islands we wanted in peak summer time. Plus we had to coordinate schedules with other family members that were joining us. Then we had a death in the family a few weeks before our trip. Yes, we could have taken it but the timing (and mood) was not right.

    Hawaiian Airlines and American were so great about giving us all our points back with no fees at all. We presented the death certificate and they were so kind. We regret the fact that we used United Miles for the interisland flights. Yes it was only 5K per person but we had 5 people on the flights. United would re credit us the miles but they wanted a large fee which was not worth it since the interisland flights were not that much money to buy outright. So we lost out on those miles.

    We did end up rebooking later in August. The trip had to be shorter, and we actually didn’t go to the islands we wanted, but we still had an awesome time! And in the end we were more “emotionally” ready to enjoy our trip at that point.

    But I understand why you didn’t want to cancel. It is so nice to daydream about it! My husband makes fun of me…. I am planning the next trip while I am on the current trip. Right now I have an April trip planned, a June trip planned….and since that is done I need to figure out August! All on points and miles!

  10. “it was kind of like watching a piece of art come together to see all of our different miles and points work in harmony to make this big and exciting trip possible.”

    Most would find this quote ridiculous, but I agree 100% 🙂 I get that same feeling every time I pull together another great trip with points/miles.

  11. My family and I visit Hawaii every summer. I few years back, a few days before our vacation there was a death in the family. The person that passed away was a part of my husbands life when he was growing up. This was a tough dilemma to be in since we were scheduled to be gone at the time the services were to be held. Life happens and we just have to roll with the punches sometimes. Congrats on the baby, and best of luck with all the other changes taking place.

  12. We found out in mid December that Katy needed neuro surgery in January and had to pull the plug on our scheduled trip to Kauai. Hyatt was great about redepositing the points. With American we paid the fee to redeposit and our only other cost was the Priceline car rental I made just the day before we got the surgery news. No refund on Name Your Own Bid reservations 🙁

    The surgery went well and we are headed back again next January 2016. Already booked and ticketed.

    Sometimes. Life just happens and gets in the way of our man made plans

  13. Congrats on the pregnancy and hubby’s new job!

    A baby and being practical are good reasons to cancel/postpone a trip. Hard as it was, you did the right thing. I’m sure you’ll be back to traveling in no time; long-time reader and I’ve “seen” you accomplish so much over the years! I’m also a mom of two and have had to cancel or pass on good deals because it didn’t work for our family, but I have faith we’ll get to those trips one of these days.

  14. You made the right decision for your family. I noticed in your posting that you used the plural word ‘daughters’ so am I to assume you are having a girl? You may have mentioned this previously, but I never picked up on it. Congratulations! As the mother of two daughters in their 30’s who still have a close relationship, you all will have a blast.

  15. Yep. Family trip to Curaçao was canceled Friday night at 11pm for a Sat am departure. My daughter was in the ER four times and urgent care three. Just couldn’t risk the flight/trip. Good thing bc the fourth ER and third urgent care happened Sat. Of course Sunday she was a new kid and all was normal. Curaçao has been on our list for 15 years and we got direct NYC -CUR by using some UR/Citi points/cash for only $369 each. Spring break to CUR for $369 a ticket??? Will never happen again. One hotel was non refundable so I’m hoping they’ll make an exception. I have enough bills to prove the kid couldn’t have flown. Oh. It snowed last night and it’s 35 degrees today.

  16. I 100% feel your “pain” Summer. What do they say “no pain, no gain” right? You’ll be gaining a wonderful addition to your family that will enriched future trips.

    But you know that! All the best to you!

  17. Congratulations to your husband on his new employment.

    If there’s any lemonade to be had from the lemon of having to cancel a trip it’s that it helps you keep your blog real.

    My wife is considering re-entering the employment sphere but will have to negotiate from the base time-off allowance the new job would allow.

  18. I haven’t canceled a Big Trip…but I did cancel nearly all travel for a year to *allow* a Big Trip. I’m not able to get card signups (yet), so miles & points generation is much harder. Playing the Game hardball-style let me take my sister to Tokyo in style for a week at a tiny fraction of the normal cost, but it took almost a year to make it happen. I missed everyone I would have connected with if I’d kept up the normal travel schedule, but it was worth it.

    And, yes, you’ll get there eventually. 🙂

  19. I’m so glad to hear that your husband found a new job that maybe a better fit for your family.I’m sure you’ll be able to make that trip happen again but next time it’ll be four to emjoy. Love your blog and keep those stories coming…

  20. OH thank goodness for posting this. I’ve still been thinking about a BIG TRIP we had to cancel a couple years ago. It was epic (in my opinion) and took FOREVER to get all the pieces together and booked. It was a crazy journey through South America that included Easter Island, camping and hiking through Patagonia in the South, and even heading down to Antarctica. BOO!!! It literally killed me to have to unpick everything and cancel it. Actually, because I cancelled that trip-I still have all those Avios left from it since it was meant to be the last hurrah before BA had devalued. Now I use it for short haul trips and the miles are taking forever to burn through…it’s like the Avios are laughing at me for wasting them. 🙁

  21. We had to cancel a 3 week trip to Europe just 4 days before leaving when my husband suddenly had very serious health complication. I wish I had been as lucky as some the others who had airlines that had some compassion towards our situation. Condor Airlines wouldn’t allow any exceptions and we lost all our airline tickets. $1000 plus 2 years of saving up enough points, all gone 🙁 It turned out a good thing we didn’t go because just 4 days after that my dad unexpectedly passed away. Worse than not going at all would have been going and then returning 4 days later (and also the cost to do that). I was thankful that I had 3 weeks of vacation away from work which allowed me time to spend and heal with my family. We postponed the trip a year and are now 3 weeks away from leaving for our now 4 week trip to Europe. Iceland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden!!!

  22. I recently had to cancel a trip to Costa Rica that I spent months planning. Found out 2 weeks before we were supposed to leave that I had 4 huge tumors in my liver that required taking out 60% of it and instead of spending 10 days traveling around Costa Rica, I spent 10 days recovering from liver surgery in the hospital. I had the same feelings of not being able to bring myself to hit the cancel button till 11pm the night before surgery even though I was clearly not going to be able to go as it’s months of recovery. I’m just thankful that we found out right before rather than having one of them rupture while there as it likely would have killed me from internal bleeding. Still planning on going…just have to figure out when the star will align again for airline miles, hotel dates, tour openings etc. once I’m healed up enough to travel. United was pretty good about the miles. Most of the hotels/tours/private transfers were as well…a few not so much but in the scheme of things…I’m here, recovering and I’ll make the epic trip through the jungle next year (fingers crossed). Congrats on your new addition – the most amazing of journeys 🙂

  23. Thanks for the real life post. Hoping that your husband’s new work opportunity fits the bill.

    Rick I-

    When we had a family medical situation come up, I wrote AA and asked for a one-time waiver of the redeposit fees. Granted.

  24. I am in the midst of this situation too. We have an epic trip planned and then had a conflict right after booking. I’ve never had to be anywhere before and now 2 things at once. Having a baby is the best trip. Having a new job with great prospects is great too.

  25. I’ve never had to cancel a trip, but if after traveling on my trips, i had to choose one I didn’t really like, it would have been Ireland. We went last may, and I was very let down. I hear people say it is a dream to go to Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, it was very green and pretty, and the country side towns were quaint…..I just wasn’t impressed at all. I see a lot of green and quaint places in the United States that are just as good or better than Ireland….Now I did really like Scotland!

  26. I’m sorry to hear that you had to cancel your trip, your itinerary sounds like it was a work of art! But, I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and I’m sure by the time your departure date rolls around it will be the furthest thing from your mind. One thing that keeps me from getting too obsessed over vacations and travel is just to keep reminding myself that there will always be a next time. Good luck to your husband!

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