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Two weeks ago, my family and I were supposed to go on an epic European adventure. If you receive my daily travel tip newsletter or my weekly travel newsletter (subscribe here for free if you don’t), then you already know this, as during the days leading up to our departure, I was writing about some of my plans and featuring our top travel gadgets to pack, like a portable handheld fan (or one you wear around your neck) to beat the heat, an international power adapter and of course, the gadget that flight attendants never travel without, a portable phone charger so you can quickly charge your smartphone and not have to worry about finding a power outlet or not being able to make a call in an emergency.

Why we had to cancel our trip to Europe.We canceled our trip because the day before our flight to Paris, my daughter and I got sick. Turns out, we had Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), which is common in little kids. The first couple of days were rough. My daughter’s feet and my hands and throat were full of painful blisters. My throat took just over a week to heal.

To give you an idea how frequently we went to the kid’s doctor, I joked to the receptionist that we should get an apartment in the building. She said, “That’s true. Sometimes I see you more than I see my own family.”

I also went to two different doctors and they both suggested we don’t go on our trip because HFMD is highly contagious. Besides, I would never travel with a highly contagious disease and hope others wouldn’t either. Fortunately, I’d used miles for almost all of the flights so I didn’t lose that much money and I have a yearly travel insurance policy through Allianz so I should be able to recoup most of the money I shelled out. Full disclosure: I’m a paid brand ambassador for Allianz.

I had originally booked us on an American Airlines (AA) flight via Heathrow for just 27,000 miles a person. I booked it months ago and was able to get us bulkhead seats. But a few days before departure, I noticed a nonstop flight from LAX to CDG had opened up on Air Tahiti (TN) on a 787-900 for 30,000 AA miles. I quickly canceled my original itinerary and snagged the Air Tahiti flights.  I also paid $80 per person for the bulkhead (row 18).

Mentally, I tried to keep the dream alive in the hopes that we would miraculously recover so I canceled the TN flight and rebooked the same one the following day but this time, TN had Premium Economy available for just 40,000 miles. But when our HMFD didn’t get better, I canceled that too.

It was such bummer because we’ve been preparing for this big trip for months. We’ve been packing, purchasing lots of travel products, and arranging hotels, vacation rentals, car services and house sitters … It was hard to swallow. Literally and figuratively.

Here’s what I had planned for us:
Saint Julien apartment via Paris Perfect.
Two nights in Paris at a luxury apartment from Paris Perfect. Car services to and from CDG using Victor Cabs Paris (they were recommended by Paris Perfect).

Flights from Paris to Athens on Aegean. I purchased these tickets for €600 and paid for two checked bags. I was going to spend €7 for fast track at CDG. I called Aegean’s call center to cancel and the agent was based in Greece, spoke excellent English, and was helpful. She told me I could keep the money for a year or get a partial refund. I chose the partial refund since I didn’t know when we would be going back. However, the amount I paid for bags stays in my account until March as they don’t refund baggage fees.

I’d reserved a Blacklane car service to pick us up at the Athens airport and take us to the Athenaeum InterContinental, an IHG hotel, for two nights. It turns out, my wife and I have stayed at this hotel many (many!) years ago but totally forgot until we decided to reminisce about that trip to Greece, while home sick in bed.

Enchanted Princess ship in port.
The highlight of the trip was going to be sailing for seven days on Sun Princess, Princess Cruises newest ship. Last summer, we took our first family Mediterranean cruise aboard Enchanted Princess and we loved it so much, we sailed on her again over New Year’s in the Caribbean. Here’s our review of Enchanted Princess. Below is what our itinerary looked like:

Sat: Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Sun:  At Sea
Mon: Bar, Montenegro
Tue: Corfu, Greece
Wed: Sicily (Messina), Italy
Thu: Naples, Italy
Fri: At Sea
Sat: Barcelona, Spain

Views from the Regina Isabella hotel in Ischia.
While in Naples, we were going to go to the island of Ischia, where my dad’s family came from, to see some cousins and grab an amazing breakfast at the Regina Isabella, the island’s only five-star luxury hotel. We spent two nights there last year and it was the sort of place dreams are made of. That was our view from the hotel, pictured above. Here’s our review of the Regina Isabella along with photos.

Canceling everything really hurt and it took a while for all of us to get over the disappointment. Regarding the actual cancellation process, some companies made it easier than others. American makes it simple. Just a few clicks and they deposit the miles almost immediately back into your account. For Air Tahiti Nui flights booked with AA miles, it took longer but a friend of mine, Ramsey, suggested I reach out to AA via Twitter and they sped up the redeposit of miles to within minutes instead of weeks.

Unfortunately, Princess’ 800 number was not up to par like their cruises. Their call center operators in the Philippines need more training. If you don’t get travel insurance, then be sure to get the cruise line’s travel protection because they don’t make exceptions for anyone or anything … not even a highly contagious, communicable disease.

Majestic Hotel and Spa in Barcelona.
Upon disembarkation, we were going to spend two nights in Barcelona at the MAJESTIC Hotel & Spa before flying back to the United States on American for 30,000 miles in coach.

As you can see, we had an incredible trip planned but travel is never set in stone, which is why travelers have to go with the flow, even if it means losing a lot of memories and money. Thank goodness we had travel insurance and that we all recovered.


12 Things to Know Before You Travel to Europe
12 Things You Never Knew About Italy
7 Things to Do in Naples, Italy
12 Things to Know Before Going to Paris
19 of the Best Off-the-Beaten Path Things to See and Do in Paris

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6 Comments On "I had to cancel our epic multi-country trip to Europe this summer: Here's why and how I did it"
  1. Linda Pedretti|

    HFMD is miserable. Hope you can reschedule your trip soon, My grandson, who is a great golfer, was camping and cut his left hand tendon( 95%) and is missing two big family golf trips. He will be driving the golf cart. Not Europe, but still very disappointing.

  2. Catherine Sweeney|

    Sorry you had to cancel your trip because of illness, but thank you for being a responsible traveler! I’m heading to Europe soon — took your advice and ordered portable chargers and handheld fan. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks! I hope you have a great trip

  3. Jean|

    So sorry to hear that you had to cancel plans. We had to do that March 2020, with the onset of COVID. We were set to leave on a Saturday to Australia/NZ for almost a month long trip. On the Wednesday prior, the President started shutting down international travel. Thank goodness we hadn’t left yet and were not stuck in Australia. Terribly disappointed that all the hard work and planning was for naught. So I totally understand your family’s disappointment.

    Meanwhile, a quick question. I noted above that you had booked several car services for your trip. Can you recommend a reliable car service for Paris in October? CDG to center city. Thanks.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for the kind words. I would use Victor Cabs Paris

  4. Ann Boyle|

    So sorry you had to cancel you wonderfully planned trip. Hopefully, you will be able to go on that same trip in the near future. I hope everyone in your family is feeling better.

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