I recently had something pretty disappointing happen to me. While I was prepping for some serious backpacking trips, I badly hurt my foot, and had to carry out travel cancellations. Besides the disappointment of not being able to go, I found myself really struggling with what this means for my body and my health. Sure, injuries happen, but as someone with chronic illness, I realized that these backpacking trips were more than just fun getaways, they were proof to myself that I was still strong.
So, not being able to go hit me really hard – because my body decided for me. I realized that not being there didn’t make a big difference for the people that were continuing their trips without me. And in one case, a close friend seemingly wrote me off, and hasn’t spoken to me since. It was a whole cascade of difficult emotions, and I didn’t realize how normal it was to struggle with depression and sadness when you get an athletic injury.
Once I did, I got to thinking, I wanted to write a travel guide for the trips you don’t go on. Sure, a good trip can come together with planning or spontaneity. But how do you navigate the trips that fall apart, the trips you can’t go on because you are injured, sick, or family circumstances change.
But this isn’t a practical guide to canceling a trip. It’s an emotional guide and a short explanation of the times I’ve had to give up on a journey. Perhaps these stories will speak to you in a moment of difficulty.
It can be really emotional if you’ve been planning and saving for a trip for a long time (or possibly already spent a lot of money on it), and things don’t work out. But you aren’t alone. Let’s explore the trips you don’t go on together.
Travel Cancellations For Injuries and Sickness
New Zealand and the Chatham Islands
My solo trip to New Zealand was actually really amazing. But it got off to a bad start, and that actually never changed throughout my journey. First, I got food poisoning on the plane. Somehow, I was just lucky enough to have scored a part of a middle row to myself, so I was able to lay down and hide under a blanket for 14 hours. Once I got to the beautiful islands, I felt better… but not perfect, for the rest of the trip. At one point, I was at the very top of a hike, when I started feeling nauseous and I had to turn around early. I spent the rest of the day resting and wondering how I would get through the rest of my itinerary.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that that caused me to cancel part of my trip. I was hiking down a long set of slick, wooden stairs in the forest, when I fell… all the way down them. I was lucky to not get really hurt (or worse), but I did land very very hard on my hand. And I ended up worrying that I had broken something.
Between the pain and the spike of anxiety caused by the fall, plus the lingering effects of the food poisoning, I ended up cancelling my leg of the trip to the Chatam islands. I spent several nights fretting over what I was going to do. But in the end, I decided that I was just too exhausted to make it to the islands. I ended up losing money on a flight I had to cancel, and my last-minute lodging wasn’t cheap either.