Last updated: 02:49 PM ET, Tue April 21 2015

Opinion Home | Are We There Yet: Tips For Family Trips

  • Janeen Christoff | April 21, 2015 2:49 PM ET

    How to Tell the Kids When Your Family Vacation Is Canceled

    How to Tell the Kids When Your Family Vacation Is Canceled

    Recently, I was planning to travel with my two daughters to Universal Orlando and on a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Port Canaveral, Fla. My girls were ecstatic and, the best part was that it was my older daughter’s birthday. Unfortunately, we were not able to take the trip and I had to let them know.

    It was particularly hard because it was my daughter’s birthday, but I thought about it and came up with a strategy. If the same thing happens to you, here are some tips for telling the kids that plans have changed.

    Be honest. Tell your children what’s up. You don’t have to go into too much detail and feel free to leave out aspects that are complicated. Think about what you are going to say and tell your kids honestly what has happened. If your children were really excited about a trip to Disney World and told all of their friends, it’s not only your disappointment that you have to deal with, it’s your kid’s too. Your actions matter and what you tell your children and how you “spin” the situation will help them process their feelings better.

    Try not to be negative. You might be upset that flights were canceled or that weather has disrupted your vacation but you should try not to show that to your children. While you might be sad or angry, your kids could end up feeling that way, too. If you try to put a positive face on the problem, then they will end up not feeling so disappointed.

    Come up with a backup plan. And get excited about it. It might not be the best plan, or even close to as amazing as your first option, but get excited about it like it’s the most exciting thing ever. Most likely, your kids won’t know the difference if you were heading somewhere new and getting everyone upbeat about the possibility of another trip will help take the sting out of missing the original vacation.

    Let it go. After you have decided on an alternate course of action, leave the old vacation in the dust. Try not to compare and contrast the experiences and, if any other family members do, nip it in the bud. While it’s easy for adults to comprehend the difference between one experience and another, young children will usually be happy about going somewhere when their parents are happy. They can also tell when their parents are disappointed.

    Want to never have this conversation? Buy travel insurance and use a travel agent. Travel insurance will cover the loss of your vacation and a travel agent will rebook you on a new trip. Using a travel professional will save you a lot of the hassles encountered when things go wrong.


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Janeen Christoff Are We There Yet: Tips For Family Trips

Janeen Christoff Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles and focused her writing on what she loved best — exploring the world. Today, she’s a well-traveled mother of two, the managing editor of Agent@Home and Vacation Agent magazines, an adventurer and a world wanderer. Want to know where she is headed next? Check out her blog at
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