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How Do You Decide When To Cancel A Trip?

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Well … it’s happened again. Yet another trip to Hawaii has been cancelled thanks to COVID.

Back in April 2020, like everyone else who had made spring travel plans, Fat Papa and I were struggling to cancel flights, hotels, and reservations made before anyone even knew what COVID-19 was, let alone that it would turn into a pandemic. At that time, we accepted credits, delayed bookings, reschedules, whatever we could, thinking that in just a couple months, certainly by the summer, we would be able to rebook everything and travel again.


Luckily in the end, we really didn’t lose much. Nearly every reservation became refundable and as Hawaii and the rest of the world headed into lockdown, almost no one kept our deposits. So we hunkered down, stayed local, and enjoyed the great outdoors within our little corner of the world. Then the vaccine started to be released. Suddenly there was a way for us to fight this horrible disease that had killed so many, sickened and injured even more, and had kept us all grounded and in our homes. Fat Papa and I made appointments to get our COVID vaccines as quickly as possible (which wasn’t very quick at all). Once I had my second shot in my arm, I was ready to travel. But there were a few problems…

  1. Fat Papa was in the midst of horrible work deadlines and was not able to take the time to travel with Itsy Bitsy and me in April 2021. If I wanted to go somewhere, and wanted additional parental support, Gigi and/or Pappy needed to come with.

  2. While vaccines were available to adults, they were not, and as of my writing this still are not, available for kids under 12 years of age. So Itsy Bitsy would be traveling unvaccinated.

  3. Even though we practiced safe masking in all our local travels, as of April 2021, Itsy Bitsy had not been asked to wear a mask for more than a couple of hours at a time. Would she be able to get through a masked plane flight?

  4. Not even a month before getting my second COVID shot we walked through an indoor shopping center to get to a furniture store (we desperately needed a new couch). While walking in this enclosed space, I experienced a small panic attack and ended up power walking (this Fat Mama doesn’t run) to the nearest exit. Was I going to be okay in an airport, let alone on a plane?

Travel During COVID

It seemed like the impediments to traveling were just adding up, so I did what any good Fat Mama would do … I put on my lab coat, grabbed my magnifying glass, and gloved up for a deep dive into the travel-during-COVID-facts. Okay, I didn’t do any of that. I sat down at my computer with a BIG cup of coffee and researched the mother clucking duck out of traveling to the Hawaiian Islands curing COVID.

What I found reassured me (the vast majority of my data came from the CDC website; you can visit the website here for the most up to date information: As of March/April 2021, science answered 3 main questions I had about safe travel during COVID.

  1. Are masks really working to protect us or is this piece of cloth on my face just a wonderful security blanket? Answer: YES! Masks are working, OMG keep wearing them. ALWAYS.

  2. How high is my COVID risk when eating outside at a restaurant or playing in the pool? Answer: According to the CDC website, if dining and exercise are outside and social distancing is practiced, then our exposure risk is low.

  3. Is masked travel on an airplane safe? Answer: Its complicated. Certainly, airlines that require testing prior to flying reduced our risk of COVID exposure, and regular hand washing, sanitizing, and mask wearing help reduce our risk more … however, flying kind of flies in the face of all the social distancing guidelines. But we couldn’t get to Hawaii without flying, so…

This all made me feel better about traveling. Now I needed to figure out what island was going to be best for this COVID-anxious Fat Mama.

Maui is the island we go to the most, and we had been scheduled to vacation there in 2020 when we had to cancel due to COVID originally. But Maui was reporting high tourist numbers and difficulties with car rentals, so Maui was out. I was really tempted to go back to the Big Island but wanted to wait until Fat Papa could join us since he loves volcanoes and wanted to share that with Itsy Bitsy. That’s when I started looking at exploring an island I hadn’t been to before. O’ahu was quickly crossed off my list because its more urban feel seemed like a negative during COVID. So, that left Kauai; and the more research I did on Kauai, the more promising this island became.

Itsy Bitsy enjoying the pool at our resort.

For this Fat Mama, Kauai had 2 BIG selling points. First, I found the most amazing resort with one of the top-rated swimming pools in the country. Itsy Bitsy is obsessed with swimming pools, so I figured if we arrived and I had a panic attack about leaving the resort, at least we would have a nice place to stay and plenty of entertainment at the pool. Second, Kauai was far more laid back than the other islands. There was less tourist activity, more rural areas, and most businesses were still closed due to COVID (in fact, many shops, restaurants, and activities had only reopened a week before we arrived). This seemed like the perfect tropical escape during a pandemic. We could be safe and have fun at the same time. And you know what? We did!

The open countryside around Poipu, Kauai

Itsy Bitsy did great on the plane. Gigi and Pappy came out with us to provide extra support. Fat Papa was even able to take a few days to join us at the end. Just enough activities were open for us to explore the island in a safe and responsible manner. We spent tons of time in the pool and Itsy Bitsy learned to hold her breath underwater. No one got sick and the vacation was a huge success!

Lightning Strikes Twice

So now you are thinking, “Well, that’s great, but what about the cancellation … I thought you said something else got canceled?” You are right, dear reader. Something else did get canceled. We had such a great time in Kauai that we decided to book ANOTHER trip to the islands, this time to the Big Island. Fat Papa’s projects were wrapping up at work, he hadn’t taken a real vacation in over two years and had a TON of PTO saved up, so I splurged and booked us 16 nights in a Waikoloa oceanfront suite at a beautiful resort for September. We had planned to go all out for this vacation … snorkeling, helicopter tour, dolphin experience, luau, shopping, poolside cabanas, on-the-beach spa treatments … I was ecstatic!

I mean, lightning never strikes twice, right?

NO! That thing about lightning ... totally false. Google it, I learned some really interesting facts about lightning. For us, lightning did strike twice. In the summer we started hearing reports about a new variant of COVID, the Delta variant. Suddenly, the number of people in the United States getting their COVID vaccinations had plateaued, then was declining. Now, the brand-new Delta strain of COVID was accelerating because it is way more contagious than the original variant, and because so many people were refusing to get vaccinated. It felt like April 2020 all over again. We had saved up PTO that we couldn’t wait to use, a fabulous vacation booked and paid for, and now, once again, the Governor of Hawaii is asking tourists to please stay away. But unlike April 2020, Fat Papa and I didn’t feel panicked about getting refunds or canceling our travel plans. Why?