My family is getting ready for three weeks of predeployment leave. We’ve made plans. We’ve mapped-out routes.
And we’ve crossed our fingers that leave won’t be suddenly canceled.
Because don’t you know that is exactly what might happen. How do I know this? It’s happened before. Our unit gives new fathers three full weeks of paternity leave. The night before week three was supposed to start, the leave was pulled. And before our last deployment? Same sort of situation. Merrily we rolled along towards block leave only to discover that, nope, we weren’t going to get any of that.
Is it because my husband is just THAT important? Or is it because Murphy (of Murphy’s law) likes to mess with me?
I’m pretty sure it’s Murphy.
At the time I was not OK with these plan changes. But I've since learned that if I'm going to make it in military life I'm going to have to change my attitude. Which is too bad, because sometimes I enjoy a really good pout.
Nonetheless, the result is that I’m very, very wary of committing to travel plans that involve purchasing tickets or other expensive, nonrefundable things.
But since I’m not one to let Murphy get me down, I have developed a few rules for myself regarding making plans around the fickle beast that is the Army and dealing with canceled leave. Here they are:
1. Plan things you can cancel. So leave gets pulled? No worries, we’ll just cancel our hotel reservations before the deadline. Sure, we’re sad. But we’re not out any cash.
2. Buy refundable tickets. If you need to fly and you’re worried about canceling, spring for the refundable tickets. You’ll still pay a fee, but it’s going to be much less than the fee you’d pay without going refundable. I should've learned this a long time ago. Untold quantities of our money have been wasted on canceled trip fees.
3. Have an alternate plan. I’m a “plan A” and “plan B” kind of girl. Our first plan, for example, may be a weeklong trip to knock another National Park off our list. Leave canceled? We knock ourselves down to a weekend, overnight trip to a local State Park. Sure it’s not as fun, but we still get to go on a little adventure.
4. Be creative. Alternate plan not going to work? Pack the kids or the dogs (or both!), put on your happy face, and make the most of it. How about a daytrip to local museum? (Might want to leave the dog home for that). Or a visit and picnic at your favorite park? Sad face = Murphy wins. And we can’t have that!