When It’s Best to Stay Home

Sometimes it’s best to just stay home.

Not something you expect to hear from a travel blogger, is it? But there are rare occasions when the planets simply won’t align and things just aren’t meant to be. Our last weekend trip was one of those. Admittedly, it was a bit of a rush job – planned and booked in an hour three days before we were due to leave, but that wasn’t the problem.

Not wanting to go to yet another game reserve (which seems to be the only option close to Gauteng, the region in which we live), I had booked us an overnight stay at a farm in the Free State. It would take us roughly five hours to drive there. And guess what? It was a game farm. You go there to see rehabilitated lions and other lesser game. Well done, Suneé. But that wasn’t the problem either.

When we finally arrived at our destination, the guard at the gate radioed reception to let them know we were on our way. As we meandered along the single road leading up to the chalets, squealing excitedly at every sighting of the prolific squirrels darting kamikaze-style in front of your car, we realized that this was not the type of place where you could do a self-drive game drive. We would have to go on an organized tour if we were to see the lions. And true enough, after having to wait a ridiculously long time for someone to show up at reception, and to move our luggage into our room and have lunch, we learned that we had missed the one and only afternoon drive. We were politely informed that we should book for the drive the next morning. Annoying, yes, but still not enough reason to stay home.

Even more disappointing was the restaurant’s lack of an a-la-carte menu for the evening. Instead, we had no choice but to have the set dinner (at an exorbitant price) and ended up leaving halfway through the main course. Which leads me to the root of the problem.

The reason we should have cancelled the entire trip and stayed home was that the little traveler, a birthday boy the day before, had recently picked up a diabolical flu virus that left him out of sorts and quickly had me at “woman down” status only hours into the trip. Let me tell you, having a sick toddler, keen to explore a strange new environment but feeling lousy at the same time, on holiday with none of the amenities and luxuries from home, while at the same time feeling like you’re about to die, is not my idea of a fun weekend.

There was hacking and coughing, runny noses, runny tummies, tears and tantrums. And the little one was in almost as bad a state!

It was a rough night, to say the least. Not even the oomph-oomph floating on the wind to remind us that there were lions out there somewhere could improve our moods.

We felt even worse the next morning, with sleep deprivation now added to the mixture as well. Grumbling, we dragged ourselves out of bed, cancelled the morning game drive, packed up the car, and went home. What a disappointing trip!

There is a lesson to be learned here, of course, as there inevitably always is when you’ve had an unsatisfactory experience. We knew the little traveler was sick before we left the house, but we went ahead anyway. We’re fast learning that life is more complicated with a child in the mix now too – all our selfish behaviours need to be modified to ensure that he is safe and happy and healthy, our main priorities now.

In future we’ll know better. Sometimes it’s best to just stay home instead.

Have you had trip where you would have been better of staying at home? Do you cancel plans when it’s obvious that things are not going to turn out as planned?

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