Is it OK to cancel a trip at the last minute?

A nice night out with friends can get out of hand quickly. One moment you're sharing a bottle of wine at happy hour, the next your bestie changes the name of the group chat to "Cancún 2024!!" and suddenly you're signed up for a group trip.

Even if alcohol isn't part of your travel plans, that doesn't mean conflicts won't arise. If this happens, go ahead and opt out of these plans. You may become Public Enemy No. 1 for a while, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Of course, you don't want your cancellation to hurt any feelings, and you know your absence will cause a greater burden than what your friends signed up for. But if you're struggling financially, physically, or mentally, you may not be in a good position to travel. (Plus, once you cross it off your calendar, you'll feel so relieved that it's almost ecstatic.)

Of course, canceling a group outing on short notice is easier said than done. But believe it or not, it's possible to do it in a way that doesn't hurt your friend or permanently damage the friendship. So if you're looking for an excuse to make a peaceful exit—and tips on breaking the news—read on.

Mathematics is not mathematics

Life is full of unexpected costs, from Airbnb fees to expensive dinner reservations you'd rather skip. Group trips can quickly go from "surprisingly on-budget" to "I'll never recover financially from this." On top of that, an unforeseen rent increase, emergency pet surgery, or last-minute car repairs could leave you in a different financial situation than when you agreed to travel.

If this happens, the most financially sound decision you can make is to quit, even if you've already paid for part of the trip.

Your gut tells you "no"

If you find yourself questioning your responses as your departure date approaches, take this as a sign to quit. Intuition is unshakable, and you won't be able to enjoy your vacation if your nervous system is in fight or flight mode.

Lucy* was a college student in New York who had planned a trip to Kentucky with a high school friend. Even though the trip fell mostly during her spring break, she still had to miss a few days of school. Worried about her grades slipping and falling behind on assignments, Lucy found herself regretting her initial agreement. "I just remember when I said yes, my gut told me I should say no," she tells Bustle.

Lucy trusted her instincts and quit a week before the trip. She felt terrible about the imposition and it wasn't easy hearing her friend "in tears" on the phone, but Lucy doesn't regret the decision - even though it took them months to mend their relationship . To avoid making the same mistakes, she recommends "carefully considering all logistics, pricing, dates and other priorities" before taking a group trip.

Your rest time is precious

Group travel requires resources other than funding. You also contribute your social battery, privacy, and precious PTO. According to Forbes , the average American only has 11 days of paid vacation per year.

Burnout is real and there are only so many days on vacation, it's important to consider how much relaxation and relaxation you need. If your schedule is packed with activities (some of which may have been booked without your participation), your vacation may not be the type of vacation you need.

Sleeping arrangements are not ideal

Maybe you agreed to a group outing but didn't realize that meant sharing a room or a bed — and if Housewives has taught us anything, it's that sharing space on a girls' trip isn't always a breeze thing. Not only do you have to adjust to your co-sleeping room's sleep schedule, preferred room temperature, and bed linen habits, but tensions can be heightened when you live in such close proximity. The last thing you want is to come back from your trip without a friend.

schedule conflict

Birthday dinners and housewarming parties don’t stop just because you’re out of town. Although this may be an unpopular opinion, previous agreements do not always take precedence.

Just ask Tyler*, who was planning to attend a friend's bachelor party but had to cancel at the last minute after discovering his band's album release party was taking place the same weekend. "I originally wanted to [perform shows] and help my friends, but one of the [commitments] required me to provide a service, and the other one, the service was my presence," he tells Bustle.

Of all the reasons to quit traveling, this may be the hardest to convince. To soften the blow, take Taylor's advice: "Keep your word" and keep paying for your trip.

How to tell a group chat

So you've crunched the numbers, weighed the pros and cons, and decided it's in your best interest to opt out of the trip. what to do?

Etiquette expert Lisa Grotts says the best thing to do is to be transparent and alert your party as soon as possible. "It's a cliché, but honesty is always the best policy," she said. "Never keep your traveling companions guessing. Try to be as far in advance as possible so you can make other plans [in your absence]."

This may not be what your friend wants to hear, but hopefully your honesty will help things work out. Consider sitting them down and having an open discussion about how you arrived at your decision. If you can't be together, group FaceTime chats and personal phone calls will work too.

Grosz recommends being sensitive to their reactions and the challenges (financial or otherwise) that may arise as a result. You can always surprise your friends with a bottle of champagne at their hotel or send them a note to brighten their trip.

Remember, real people will understand – just remember to be gentle in your messaging.


Lisa Grotts , Certified Etiquette Specialist

*Name has been changed