Do you ever make plans to do something that sounds really great at the time, but then later find yourself looking for excuses to cancel plans at the last minute?
Maybe you add social events to your calendar thinking you’ll be into them, but once the day of said event arrives, you’re racking your brain trying to come up with excuses to get out of plans…a good reason that actually sounds believable?!
I hate to admit it, but I’m guilty of this too. Does it mean we’re awful, terrible people? Of course not!
Sometimes we might find ourselves with a legit schedule conflict, and other times we simply don’t feel like doing what we’d originally planned. And, that’s okay! We’re allowed to change our minds.
Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to be upfront and honest with the people in your life when it comes to the commitments you’ve made, but if you really can’t face the music for one reason or another, this post has you covered with 21 totally believable excuses to cancel plans.
What are good excuses to cancel plans?
Life happens and sometimes things come up that keep us from upholding a prior commitment, even to a best friend or loved one. Other times we simply have a change of heart and no longer feel like keeping the plans we’d made.
Maybe you had a crappy day at work and all you want to do is go home, have a glass of wine, lie on the couch, and watch your favorite show. There’s no shame in that!
The fact of the matter is that you don’t really need an excuse to cancel plans. The best “excuse” is usually the truth.
Most of the time, it’s a good idea to be honest with the person you made plans with – you can always offer to reschedule or spend time together on a different date. Furthermore, people can usually tell when you’re lying to them, especially if it’s a good friend who knows you well!
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to bailing on plans, but sometimes we’re too worried about hurting the other person’s feelings or saving face, especially if we’re canceling without much notice.
In this case, you want to make sure you have a good excuse that is not only plausible but also takes into account how it might make the other person feel.
Here are 3 key elements of good excuses to cancel plans:
- Believable – As I mentioned above, people can often tell when you’re not being truthful, so your excuse must be believable. Consider if your excuse fits with your lifestyle and what the other person knows about your personality.
- Worthy – You don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, so it’s important to give an excuse that’s worthy of canceling plans. Ideally, you want to avoid them feeling as if you’re blowing them off, even if you are!
- Low risk – When coming up with an excuse that’s based on anything but the honest truth, there is always the chance that you’ll get caught in a lie. That’s why you need a low-risk excuse. It should be simple, unverifiable, and crafted in such a way that it doesn’t invite many follow-up questions. You don’t want to get tripped up on the nuances or find yourself trying to recall the details of your excuse down the road.
Make sure you really want to cancel the plans
Before we get into the list of excuses to cancel plans, I’d like to make the point that it’s important to assess why you’re looking to bail on your plans in the first place. Make sure you really do want to cancel the plans before you start coming up with the perfect excuse to do so.
As an introvert myself, I like to spend time alone and often have to challenge my natural inclination to want to get out of plans. For the most part, I don’t usually agree to too many social obligations. When I do, I much prefer one-on-one or small group interactions rather than those involving large groups of people I don’t know well, where my social anxiety might cause a bit of unease.
However, I also recognize that it’s important to push myself outside of my comfort zone from time to time and so I do sometimes say yes to plans, even when I know they might make me a little bit uncomfortable.
I find that I’m usually happy when I commit, follow through, and don’t allow myself to bail! Furthermore, the more I push myself, the easier it becomes and the more I want to keep my plans.
So if you find that looking for excuses to get out of plans is something you do pretty regularly, take some time to reflect on the real reason and what you can do to help yourself feel better about your social commitments.
You might ask yourself –
Why do you really want to cancel? Do you feel anxious about the specific plans you made or the person/people you’re supposed to be seeing?
Will you enjoy yourself once you’re there? Did you have fun the last time you saw this person/did this activity/went out when you didn’t feel it?
Is canceling truly what’s best for you or would some social interaction do you good?
21 Believable Excuses to Cancel Plans
Ok, so you’ve given it some thought and decided that canceling is the way to go. Now you need a believable excuse to get out of your plans!
The type of excuse you use will depend on your relationship with the person or people you’re canceling on, as well as the timing.
Ideally, it’s best to cancel your plans as far in advance as possible so the other party has the opportunity to reallocate their time, or so you can reschedule to another mutually convenient time for you both (with the assumption that you’re not going to bail again!).
Of course, it’s not always possible to do it the right way and plan ahead. Sometimes you need or want to cancel at the last minute….because #JOMO (the JOY of missing out).
In either case, I’ve got you covered with the best excuses to cancel plans for both scenarios.
Best Excuses to Cancel Plans in Advance
1. You’ve come down with something
This is a great excuse that works well when you’re canceling a day or two in advance. If you’ve caught the latest bug that’s floating around, it’s likely you’ll still be feeling under the weather by the time the day of your plans rolls around.
2. Unexpected work commitment
Don’t you hate it when you get thrown a curveball at work?
Your boss gave you a last-minute project so unfortunately, you’ll be working a lot of late nights this week and have to cancel.
Or, you have a work dinner that just got scheduled for that night. You didn’t realize the client was going to be in town, but they’re asking if you can have dinner with them and you really can’t say no.
3. Your parents/sister/brother/cousins are popping in for a surprise visit
This works well with out-of-town family and when you make it seem like their visit is unexpected (and the last thing you want to do).
Yep, you’d totally rather be able to keep your plans, but unfortunately, now you have to entertain your family.
4. You double-booked
Another great idea is to say that you forgot about a prior commitment and somehow double-booked the date.
It’s just that you’ve been so busy lately that you must have forgotten to put in your calendar, but it looks like you’re gonna have to reschedule your plans.
5. You have to do something with your kids
Maybe your son’s soccer game got moved to the same night as your plans or your daughter has a girl scout meeting that you had promised you’d go to.
We all know that our kids’ schedules often dictate our lives. So if you want an excuse to get out of plans (especially plans with a mom friend), using your kids as the reason is a great way to excuse yourself.
She’ll totally understand…happens to her all the time.
6. You’re trying to save money
This excuse works well when the plans involve a financial commitment. Something like a girls’ weekend away, a spa day, or an expensive night out would apply here.
No one can fault you for saying it’s not in the budget right now! You can instead suggest making alternate plans at a later date that are relatively low-cost or even free.
7. You’ve had a change of heart
This excuse is a good one because it’s likely the truth in many cases!
You may have made your plans a while ago and now you’re no longer interested in going. It’s okay to change your mind!
Try making new plans for something you’ll be excited about.
8. You’re not up for socializing
Maybe you had a rough day at work or your kids were driving you crazy. In either case, all you want is to be by yourself.
In this situation, you can try being honest with the other person and letting them know that although you were really looking forward to seeing them, you’re just not up to it anymore. You feel the best way to take care of your own needs is a little me time.
Anyway, you wouldn’t be much fun to hang out with given the mood you’re in, and would rather reschedule for a time when you’re feeling more social.
9. You’re emotionally drained
If you’ve had an emotionally exhausting week (or month) and don’t feel up for going out, this is an honest excuse to use.
A good friend may try to convince you that it will do you good to talk about your situation (and it probably would), but will understand when you decline their invitation to chat.
10. You have family drama to take care of
This is a really good excuse to cancel plans that is best used when the plans are with an acquaintance or someone who is not a close friend of yours.
You can simply say that there is some family drama going on that you have to tend to and you don’t want to get into the details.
Since the person doesn’t know you all that well, they will likely not feel comfortable pressing you for more information, especially since you’re not offering any!
Best Excuses to Cancel Plans Last Minute
11. You’re not feeling well
Not feeling well is probably the most widely used excuse out there because it’s a no-brainer. You can get sick at any time and thus it’s an easy excuse to get out of plans at the last minute (or with advance notice).
When using this excuse to get out of plans at the last minute, it’s best to come up with an ailment that could come on suddenly, like a throbbing headache or an upset stomach due to something you may have eaten earlier in the day.
12. You totally forgot (silly you)
Saying that you totally forgot you had plans makes it about your lack of organization, rather than the other person. You might add that you’ve been such a scatterbrain lately or that it’s such a busy time of year with the holiday season and all…
Hopefully, the other person’s feelings won’t be too hurt when you call them with a last-minute cancelation, saying that your plans totally slipped your mind.
13. The babysitter just canceled
Your babysitter canceled at the last minute and thus you have no choice but to reschedule. What can you do? It’s out of your control…
14. You have to work late
Maybe it’s a last-minute meeting that just popped up on your calendar or a project deadline that you’re not going to meet if you don’t forego your plans and work late instead.
We’ve all been there, right?
15. Your kid came home sick from school
Hopefully it’s just a 24-hour stomach bug or something, but now you have to stay home to take care of him. Totally sucks…
16. You got the date wrong
OMG, you thought the plans were for next week. You must have made a mistake when you put it in your calendar!
Any chance to do it next week instead because you actually can’t make it today?
17. You have a household emergency to tend to
A pipe burst, the kitchen sink is leaking, or maybe there’s water in the basement?
Whatever emergency you come up with, the other person will have to understand that it requires your immediate attention! Unfortunately, you’ll have to reschedule…
Just remember not to make it too elaborate to explain or anything that will invite too many follow-up questions.
18. A family member needs you
Saying that your mom, sister, husband, child, etc needs your help with something urgent is a viable last-minute excuse.
Maybe your mom needs you to take her to a doctor’s appointment or your husband has a big presentation at work the next day and wants you to look it over. Perhaps your daughter needs you to help her study for the big math test that she’s really stressed about.
Yes, you know you need to work on better boundaries, but family comes first…
19. You have no one to watch the kids
You got your signals crossed and didn’t realize that your husband also made plans for that night. Unfortunately, you have to cancel because you have no one to watch your kids.
Yep, it’s his turn to go out since you went out last week…such a bummer…
20. You’re not going to make it in time
This excuse works well when you’re dealing with a certain window of time for your plans like when you know ahead of time that your friend has to be home by a certain hour.
You could claim a transportation issue like getting stuck in traffic or your train from work being delayed.
Whatever the reason, the situation is that you’re now running late and are not going to get there in time for it to be worth it…might as well reschedule for a better day when you’ll have more time to spend together. 🤷🏻♀️
21. You just don’t feel like it
There’s no better way to tell it like it is other than saying you “just don’t feel like it”. Sometimes it’s necessary to put yourself first and not feel guilty about it.
Just be prepared for the backlash that may come from being brutally honest.
Final Thoughts on Excuses to Cancel Plans
Although I just listed 21 believable excuses to get out of plans, most of the time, the best excuse is the truth. 9 times out of 10, honesty is the best policy.
For the most part, people will be understanding and not take it personally because hopefully, they realize that you’re wanting to cancel plans is not about them, it’s about you (usually).
Also, it helps to give a sincere apology, knowing that the other person had set aside time in their day for you. And although we’re all very much used to texting these days, in this situation, a personal phone call can prove much more meaningful than a quick text.
But at the end of the day, although making excuses to cancel plans kinda sucks, there are times when we all do need a good excuse to bail. I hope this post proved valuable for when your need to cancel gets the best of you!
What’s the best excuse to get out of plans that you’ve ever used?
Witty, unique, honest, and cheeky excuses are all appreciated in the comments below!
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.