Grieving for Our Cancelled Big Road Trip

| November 10, 2013

The big road trip vision was strong.  After hours of researching and discussion we had decided that our next trip was going to be a big family road trip to the west coast of the USA and Canada.  We had visions of cruising the highways in an RV and exploring amazing places such as Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Banff.

Monument Valley, a place we intended to visit on our big USA and Canada road trip

Monument Valley, a place we intended to visit on our big USA and Canada road trip

Travel Planning for Our Big Road Trip

I had put together five different length trip itineraries and had worked out how much each trip option would cost.  At the same time I had worked out some big Australian road trip options which I detailed in One Big Trip or More Frequent Smaller Trips?   After considering that the airfares would constitute approximately $A8000 from Australia for our family of five, we had decided that a six week trip would be required to get good value for our tourist dollar.  So we then committed to save up the $A23000 that we needed for the North American trip.

Making the Decision to Go

Savings were going well and we quickly built up close to $A5000 in our trip account, with a vision of departing on this trip in two years once our youngest child was old enough to remember the trip.

And then life changed in two ways.  We had an issue with one of our cars that led to a decision to replace it with a newer vehicle.  We realised that if we used some of our savings including the trip fund that we would be able to purchase the replacement car without taking out a loan.  So we went ahead and drained the trip fund.

Only a few weeks later another change in our lives occurred which resulted in us relocating back from Brisbane to Sydney.  As a result my husband will now shortly be returning to full time employment as a school teacher.  As a result he is unlikely to be able to take six weeks of leave to enable us to travel during the USA and Canadian summer for another ~8 years until he is eligible for Long Service Leave (which is an Australian thing where after you have been employed full time for ten years that you are entitled to receive an additional three months of paid leave).  So we decided that the big USA and Canada road trip idea needed to be cancelled and replaced with other travel options which will better suit our availability.

Were We Really Committed?

Purists could argue that if we were willing to use the money that we mustn’t have been committed to the trip.  And they would probably be correct.  We were committed to the trip, but in recent years we have had a higher commitment to becoming financially established to be able to retire early and do more travel later!  And taking a loan out at a high interest rate for a car is not part of that vision.  We also require a reliable car for work and school so we couldn’t afford to spend much less money on the car.

In my experience a big trip only happens if it is your highest priority – I have always experienced a definite decision point where I decided that I wanted to do a particular trip, and I subsequently was able to save like a demon to pursue that goal and then successfully depart on that trip.  This trip was a classic case which confirmed that while our planned big road trip was important it was not our highest priority and therefore the higher vision won out, as it should.

Am I Really Grieving For the Trip?

I feel sad that we have cancelled the USA and Canada trip.  I would still really like to go and do that trip but my focus has now changed to exploring other trip options while we rebuild our trip fund.  As a result I think for now that the smaller trip option has won out over the big trip, partly because they are more affordable but also they better fit our requirement to travel during school holidays.

I have been considering shorter cheaper trips to places like Central Australia to see Uluru, and also the Top End around Darwin.  And maybe there could be an option to do a road trip to the North Island of New Zealand or one of the pacific islands.

While I am sad I have also readily moved on to other trip ideas, which suggests that the big road trip was perhaps not as strong a priority as I originally thought.  But I also feel really pleased that we are moving to our other vision to be able to retire early.  If we can keep that focus for the next few years then we will set ourselves up to do many trips in the future.

And we will still be doing some smaller trips in the interim period.  After all, 8 years can pass really quickly and by then we should be able to afford to do an even longer trip to North America if we wish!

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Are you grieving for a trip idea which had to be cancelled?  Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

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Category: Travel Planning

Anne Sutherland-Smith

About the Author ()

Anne Sutherland-Smith is the founder of the Pretraveller blog which focuses on travel planning. Anne is a keen travel planner who loves researching and preparing for her next trip. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

Comments (4)

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  1. Jo says:

    How disappointing for you and the family, Anne. I too have had to cancel trips – often when planes and hotels are booked, and the guidebook has been almost committed to memory. I find the best remedy for the disappointment is to immediately start planning an alternative!
    Jo recently posted…The frugalfirstclasstravel Friday files – 8 November 2013My Profile

    • Jo, thanks for your comment. I agree that I definitely have already started planning my next trip. I have a spreadsheet where I have costed a few different options, and I am closely watching the flights as cheap deals should be starting to come out for the school holidays in July and Sep next year. We will see what we do, if that option is still too expensive we may look at doing more of a road trip somewhere!

  2. The thing about true travellers is that they’re always adaptable and open to change – Your big trip to the States is simply morphing into a different type of travel for the next few years, which in its own way will be just as rewarding when it comes to family memories :)

    People spend ’000s of $$$ to fly half way around the world to visit Sydney – What a great opportunity to spend weekends exploring what Sydney has to offer through tourist’s eyes!
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…How To Journey Into the Wilderness And Not Carry a BackpackMy Profile