Why it’s Okay to Mourn Your Cancelled Travel

Y’all, this stinks. It does. And it’s ok to feel that way. No one’s happy all the time—that’s not human nature. Having struggled with depression most of my life, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage stress, disappointment, and things out of my control. My travels have given me so much: deeper faith, self-confidence, friends, my husband, a creative outlet, something to look forward to in the dark cold winters, etc. It’s sad that I no longer have those things when and how I want them.

Cancelled plans, however, don’t have to get you down. It’s not selfish to be sad for the things you lose in life. Here are a few reasons why it’s truly okay, and even healthy, to mourn and grieve your cancelled travel. I hope some of my strategies can work for you, too.

Grief is all about feeling your feelings. It sounds corny, but there you have it. Once you feel it all, you can move on, be happy again, and start looking for the next thing to look forward to.

The sun will rise tomorrow. You just have to make it there.

Reason #1: Because it’s More than Just a Trip

It’s the Effort You Went To

You saved money and vacation time for that trip. You dreamed about it. You did the research. You booked everything. You put time, effort, and care into planning this fantastic trip.

It’s the Lost Opportunity

This was going to be your time to have that great adventure, truly relax, sit on the beach and listen to the waves, hike that iconic trail, become someone you don’t get to be in your everyday life! This was more than a trip, this was supposed to be your escape.

It’s the Time-sensitive Gift

This was a special occasion. It was your honeymoon, your anniversary, your milestone birthday, you gift to your parents, kids, or friend who needed encouragement. Sure, you can delay in most cases, but not all. There’s just something special about being somewhere on the day. Or doing something special on the day. You might take that trip later, and it really might be just as good or better, but it won’t be the same.

Here we are with Hans Christian Anderson on our honeymoon in Scandinavia, 2014. Our anniversary trip this year is cancelled, but our anniversary is not! We will be sad, but then we’ll celebrate.
It’s okay to be sad about that for a minute, an hour, a day. Let yourelf cry, go for that long run and really wear yourself out until there’s nothing left. You can feel however you feel; then you can move on.

Reason #2: Because You Need a Vacation Right Now

Right? We all need a vacation from COVID-19. We need a break from the news coverage, the stay-at-home orders, the masks, the gloves, the bleach, the lack of toilet paper in the stores, all of it. We need a vacation! And wouldn’t you know? Right now that’s exactly the one thing we can’t have.

Oh, the irony.

I know I’m not the only one who needs a day at the beach right now.
It’s okay to be upset about that. Let yourself be as upset as you like for one hour. Talk out loud about how mad you are. Throw a pillow. SCREAM into that pillow! Limit yourself to 15, 20, 30 minutes or even an hour. And then be done with it. Get it out so you can move forward and find the next thing to be excited about.

Reason #3: Because You’re Not the Only One Who’s Disappointed

It’s bad enough that you’re disappointed. But so are your kids, your spouse, your travel buddy, your parents, your girlfriends who stay at that beach house that weekend every year. Your kids were really looking forward to that Spring Break trip. Your parents only celebrate 40 years of marriage once in their lives, and now you all have to miss out on the celebration. You only see that part of the family on the other side of the country once every five years, and now you all have to skip it. You finally had enough money and points saved up to take that incredible trip where you planned to propose… and now it’s not happening.

It’s okay to be upset about that. Talk to the people who are just as disappoionted as you. Let them know it’s okay to feel how they feel. Find a way to celebrate the togetherness anyway. Use FaceTime or Zoom. If it’s the same people you’re quarantining with, create a “theme night” and pretend you’re there. Order a little gift from a local business and send it to your would-be travel mates. Feel how you feel, then cope together, even apart.

No matter how many others are disappointed, how they may be taking it out on you, or how upset anyone else is, remember that it’s not your fault.

Reason #4: Because it’s Out of Your Control

You can’t control COVID-19. You can’t control the travel industry. You can’t control your cancelled accommodation. You can’t control how quickly researchers are working to find a cure or a vaccine. This whole thing is simply and cruelly out of your control. Here’s what you can control:

  • Your response
  • Your tone
  • Your words
  • Your actions
  • Your quarantine experience
  • Your boredom level
  • Your daily routine
  • Your kindness to yourself and others

There really are so many things we can control that typically end up falling through the cracks. We now have time for those things we never had time or energy to do before. Use that. Your lost trip is out of your control, but your future trips aren’t! You can shift your trip dates. And then if it still doesn’t happen, shift them again. Can’t move your trip? Plan the next trip.

That city you want to visit will still be there! Start planning for when this is all over.
It’s okay to feel helpless right now, but it’s not okay to wallow. It’s okay to feel helpless, but it’s not okay to wallow. Feel how you feel, then do something about it. Don’t let yourself get in that downward spiral. Wherever you are, you can stop. Then you can start looking up and making a game plan.

Need some more encouragement in the Age of Corona? Check out my Health and Wellness Page for everything from how to work from home to how to handle the stress and more.

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17 responses to “Why it’s Okay to Mourn Your Cancelled Travel”

  1. We were supposed to go to DC next weekend and I was supposed to go to NYC not too long after that. I’m majorly bummed about it. 🙁 I live for the few trips I take each year. It really sucks because I don’t even know when I will be able to reschedule them because we have no idea when things will return to “normal.” Sometimes I feel guilty for being bummed about this because I know there are worse things happening right now. I’m glad you posted this.

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I’m so sorry your trip is cancelled! But I’m thankful you found this post helpful. It’s okay to be upset about it for a little while. I hope you can reschedule eventually! We are all in this together. 💜

  2. Hi, Greetings from India. I was in Germany this year for my 6 months internship from January to July 2020. But because of the virus I came back to India in May end. This sucks so much because if things were right, I would have visited most of the European countries. It was also my first time out of my home country. I could only visit Czech Republic and France. Moreover I was also given a monthly stipend from the institute I had my internship in. So, i didnt have to worry about the money too. I am 21 years old and my 2-3 friends from India were also with me in this internship. This could have been the best times of our lives. I literally cried so much when all our trips got canceled and also the internship was not fruitful as we had to sit for like 1.5 months in our homes and all the work was lab based. I am still crying after reading your post. I just pray that life blesses me again with an equally good opportunity in near future.

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I’m so sorry you had to leave your trip early! It’s okay to be sad, but don’t let it get you down! Keep looking for opportunities, and just pray we get a vaccine soon!


    1. I’m so sorry you had to cancel! You will be able to rebook soon! It’s okay to be super sad about it right now!

  4. I’m later getting on this than the last poster of almost a year ago. The pandemic, as of now, has eased up a bit but it’s still something we have to deal with. I wonder if it will ever end? Was the theme to this article about cancelling a trip because of the pandemic?

    I just cancelled a trip for myself (I was going on a solo trip) and felt horrible about it. This article was a God-send to me. I felt like a total idiot. I had anxiety. I’ve always had it, even when I went on solo trips before, but this time I went as far to cancel. I have never cancelled a trip for myself in my entire life until today! My main reason for cancelling was because I had a fear of having to wear a mask constantly for a long flight (about nine hours) and at the airport terminals. And all kinds of other reasons were hitting my thoughts as I couldn’t sleep the whole night before that trip.

    Throughout the morning, I had some crying spells. I haven’t had one in a long time. I think that I had the crying spells because of not not sleeping well and feeling rotten about cancelling. Thanks so much for your wonderful article!

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I appreciate this comment very much. I did write this with the pandemic in mind, never imagining we would still be in the throes of it more than a year and a half later. I’m so thankful it’s still helpful, but I’m so sorry you felt you needed to cancel your trip. Anxiety is at an all-time high, and it’s completely understandable that the mask brings your anxiety on so intently—especially if you live in a state that did away with its mask mandate months ago.

      That said, maybe you can plan a closer trip in the meantime. I don’t know your particular situation or location, but sometimes it’s helpful to think of what you can do instead of what you feel you can’t do. I’ll be (hopefully) taking my first international trip since January 2020 in December of this year, and I’ll be writing about it, so maybe that will give you some helpful tips or confidence to try for a long-haul flight in early 2022. Best of luck. Do what you can do, and don’t feel bad about whatever you may not be ready for just yet!

      1. HI, Did you take that trip? It seems like things are getting back to normal now; slowly but surely. I’m wondering if masks are still required at airport terminals and on planes? I haven’t heard much about it.

        As for me, I’m still “grounded” and waiting things out. I’d like to try for that trip again that I attempted to do last October. I don’t know when I’ll go, if ever.

        I’m curious to find out from you.

      2. quickwhittravel Avatar

        Yes! My husband and I went to Belgium in December and French Polynesia in January! Masks are still required in airports and on planes, but hopefully not too much longer. A few countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, and maybe more) have dropped mask mandates and vaccine and testing requirements, so the rest should follow soon!

  5. […] least favorite accessory two years running, right? I recently got a comment on my “Why It’s Okay to Mourn Your Cancelled Travel” blog post from the beginning of the pandemic. My heart is heavy that this post is still […]

  6. Thank you so much for this post. It’s truly is the thing that I needed the most right now. My desirable trip to Egypt was canceled, and I felt so bad. I have been planning it since November. It was supposed to give me relax after a tough semester in gradschool and online lessons. I do understand that it’s nobody’s fault, as COVID-19 and new viruses are unpredictable. But I wanted to listen to kind words from my family members and friends, maybe so that we could be sad together 🤣 I really needed empathy but the only thing I got is a phrase “nah, that’s nothing, keep going”… and I have found your post, now I feel much better, and now I understand that I have a right to be sad and express my emotions. Thank you so much 💓 Take care.

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful for you! It’s true that we can only “keep going,” but it is helpful to take a little bit of time to just be sad for something we were so excited about. I hope you can reschedule your trip to Egypt in the future, and that it will be even more meaningful then. Thank you so mich for commenting. I think it’s helpful to know we’re not alone!

  7. I literally was googling if it is OK for me to be this upset about having to not be on a trip and found this post. American Airlines cancelled my flight which caused such a horrific butterfly effect that I had to cancel my trip to see my family in the Dominican Republic and I’m SO PISSED! I feel like they messed with me for no reason and I’m so angry. Anyways, glad I read this. It helped a little. <3

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I’m so glad this post was helpful, but I’m so sorry your trip was cancelled! I hope you can reschedule soon!

  8. Well, I’m on here again! This time it’s the one year anniversary on the day I’ll never forget that I cancelled my trip and felt bad about it. This time I had made reservations and planned that same trip. Well, guess what? I DID IT AGAIN! I cancelled. I feel bad about it now as I did last year. But I feel a little bit better this time than last year. It seemed kind of dumb for me to have cancelled, especially since as of now, the pandemic has become a faint memory. This time, masks were not required on flights.

    This trip I planned on, like last year, was to a place where I wanted to scout out to see if I want to move there. Maybe I cancelled because I thought it wasn’t worth it. I have to leave where I live now because it’s too costly. I’m OK financially now and can swing it for a while. But there’s going to come a time when it’s not going to be alright. My main concern is that I want to go to a place where I know someone. That’s a problem for me now and I don’t know if that’s going to get better in the future.

  9. I need to read this right now. I have just cancelled the trip of a lifetime, disappointing my very supportive sister, and losing a lot of money. All because of my fear of flying. I used to fly a lot and have made this exact trip many times. I don’t know why but my anxiety got the better of me this time. I am devastated and full of regret. I wish I had gone. I wish I had just faced my fear. I am so full of self-loathing right now and I can’t stop crying.

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