Avoid Disappointment When Your Ireland Vacation Plans Crumble

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If you've been following along with the blog for any length of time, you know that I had some pretty big Ireland vacation plans this year. A 5 week odyssey along the Wild Atlantic Way – 2500+ km of Ireland's most dramatic and scenic coastline was to have been our ‘biggest trip' to Ireland – both in duration and distance.

Grianan Ailligh, County Donegal, Ireland, Wild Atlantic Way
This view from Grianan Ailligh is just one of the dramatic sights along the 2500km Wild Atlantic Way

But as the trip dates got closer, things at home and plans along our route began to unravel. Some things were fixable, others not so much. And, after days (weeks, really) of trying to sort it all out, bouncing ideas off my husband, and working on trip plans again, nearly from the beginning, I was finally forced to realize that my dream of driving the Wild Atlantic Way was just not going to come true this year.

It was a difficult decision to make as I had both time and money invested in this trip – not to mention plans for a book, as well as articles pitched and a “from the road” series planned for one of the outlets I write for. And, after the decision was made to cancel the trip, I felt very mixed reactions. On one hand I was severely disappointed – it's very difficult to let go of a dream. On the other hand I was relieved – it removed a lot of the burdens I was feeling (which, between home and travel, were quite numerous).

And, in the end, I think the change worked out for the best as our trip wasn't completely canceled, but merely postponed and shortened, with a much different itinerary and focus.

When Your Ireland Vacation Plans Don't Go As Planned

Life happens, often at the most inopportune times. During my trip to Ireland last year my husband arrived with the news that my beloved Grandmother was dying. Her express wishes were that I remain and enjoy my trip. Thankfully she didn't pass until after I returned home.

With that event in my mind, and knowing that the duration of our trip was longer than normal, I purchased travel insurance. It was the first time I had ever done so, and I am thankful I did – though we didn't end up filing a claim. I used Squaremouth to compare travel insurance companies. Be sure to read policies thoroughly, know their stance on pre-existing conditions, and buy the ‘cancel for any reason' rider.

Tip: The ‘cancel for any reason' addition doesn't cost much to add to a policy and gives you added protection.‘Cancel for any reason' will not pay out 100% of your costs; our policy through TinLeg covered 75%.

If you aren't traveling on a tour, the largest expense to your Ireland vacation are your flights. And while the majority of airline tickets are non-refundable, I found that it doesn't always mean the money is gone. When I canceled our flights (on United Airlines), I received notice that the entire amount I paid for the tickets remained as credit to my account for one year. For $300 per ticket, I was able to re-book our flights (which is why we didn't file an insurance claim – you have to sign a waiver stating you will not use the credits. And, at 75% payout vs $300 booking fee, it ended up being a wash.)

Tip: This was our experience with United; I don't know how other airlines handle canceled flight tickets – do your research before booking. Use Twitter or Facebook for quick answers from airlines.

You will feel disappointment. It's natural. But, after a bit, you have to stop being sad about what you missed and begin planning a new experience. Look at why your vacation plans fell apart and learn from your mistakes. Begin planning again and allow yourself to get excited about this new adventure.

Tip: It's ok if your new trip isn't the same as the trip you had to cancel. 

Life works out the way it is supposed to – though you may never know the reasons why.  Embrace the change and enjoy the trip!


  1. Sigh. Not an easy decision. Thanks for sharing how things worked out. This sort of thing could happen to anyone, so it’s good to know.

      Thanks Corey. But there is a silver lining- we will be in Ireland over Halloween. Lots of fun lined up that I can’t wait to share!

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