Family staycation, holidays at home: What to do when your trip away is cancelled?

You've been planning a family holiday for months.

Every week, every day, every hour at work, you forge forward – the finish line in sight.

Then, at the 11th hour, the rug is pulled from under you.

The trip is cancelled, unexpectedly.

There could be many reasons: a natural disaster at your destination; passports that expire within six months, or an illness in the family.

Aside from the obvious concern about the above, the lingering question is this: what to do now?

This is what happened to us last week.

Fortunately, the gods of Facebook have smiled upon us.

After one desperate post, we are now armed with a myriad of suggestions.

Sensibly, they began with what not to do: camping sites will be booked out and hotels too expensive because of the school holidays.

Father-of-two James McIlwain, from Brisbane, recommends organising a house swap with friends interstate if this happens.

"Staying at home is no holiday," he reckons. "Even if you think you'll relax, you end up doing stuff."

"I've had this happen, and I tend to overcompensate with expensive days out," Deborah Dickson-Smith, director of content at Diveplanit, admits.

I like this idea from Melbourne mum, Kaye Winnell: "Choose an activity every day. Movie day, train into the city, bike ride day. Sleep in, without guilt, as you have meaningful activities planned."

Writer and singer Maeve Marsden, from Lady Sings it Better, takes this a step further. "My family and I would allocate a day to each family member, to decide on an excursion and where/what to eat, and no one else was allowed to complain."

Author of Henry and Banjo, James Knight, suggests another tome, by Helene Hanff.

"Apple of My Eye is a beautiful story about someone who decides to take a holiday in the city in which she lives, and she discovers so much that she didn't know," he says. "Why not take the kids on a similar journey? Simple pleasures."

ABC broadcaster James O'Loghlin wrote a lovely book a similar theme, called A Month of Sundays.

Mother-of-one, Estelle Quiggin, from Sydney, is adamant, "If one has the time off then one must use it! Jump in the car and go on a road trip. Throw the dice on a map and see where you end up."

Leonie Sealy, who lives in the Gold Coast hinterland, once loaded up her car with the kids and took them to the beach to catch pippies.

"We got 75," she remembers. "I had visions of vongole with angel hair pasta. The kids named all of them!"

After considering all of these suggestions, hubby and I got on the phone to our respective siblings, in Brisbane, to tell them of our plight.

"Well, why don't you come up here?" they replied, in unison. "We're all on holidays, too!"

It seems the cancellation of our much-anticipated trip was meant to be.

Now, we'll be doing day trips, going to the beach, and hanging out with our beloved family in Brissie.

I can't think of anything better.

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