When I first started developing a serious interest in traveling solo, the one thing that held me back from my dreams was the fear of what my mother would say.
I could already imagine how the conversation would go, i.e. not well. After firing off all the reasons why this was a bad idea and a detailed list of all the ways I would undoubtedly meet my gruesome end, the conversation would end with a resounding no and the topic would never be broached again.
The thing is, parents worry – it’s what they do best… and can we really blame them?
Now, my mother has always been supportive of me in all of my endeavors and typically has an open mind about most things. But when it comes to my safety she tends be over protective. Because of this I’ve always been weary of asking for anything that might be deemed “unsafe” by societal norms since the answer would always be no. So you can image how anxious I was about telling my mother about my plans of traveling alone. Seeing the world is what I wanted (and still want) more than anything, and the idea of having them crushed terrified me.
So if you are experiencing a similar situation with your own parents, don’t worry.
With the tips below, a little bit of courage and a whole lot of patience you should be able to ease their worried minds and bring them around to the idea. And as it turns out, my mother wasn’t as opposed to the idea as I feared, and tried to be as accepting as possible (with a few conditions), so maybe your parents will surprise you as well.
TELLING YOUR PARENTS YOU’RE TRAVELING SOLO
How To Handle The Conversation
When we talk to our parents about things they aren’t in agreement with, we tend to get worked up and upset. We start raising our voice, whining, and saying things like “That’s not fair!” and so on – Don’t do this. You need to show your parents that you’re a mature adult who can handle being on your own and that you can keep a level head in difficult situations. This won’t be accomplished by throwing a tantrum and acting like a child. Listen to their concerns without interruption and answer all their questions calmly. No matter how frustrated you both may get, or even if they start to raise their voice, the key is to stay calm and show them that you are mature.
DON’T ASK FOR PERMISSION:
This is very important. Continuing from my previous point, you’re trying to show that you’re an adult now.You need to make it clear from the beginning that you are not asking for their permission – you don’t need it. What you are asking for is their support and acceptance. Tell them that, because they are your parents, you value and respect their opinion and want to make them as comfortable with this decision as possible. Include them in the planning process if that will help, but emphasize that the trip is happening and that you will be traveling solo. Now, this of course is not the case if you are under-age and if you are not legally considered an adult yet, permission is absolutely needed!
BE PREPARED & DO YOUR RESEARCH:
Research your destination thoroughly so that you will be prepared for the questions they will undoubtedly throw at you. Show them you have properly thought this out and planned it in-depth – that this isn’t a spur of the moment idea. This includes flights, accommodation, prices, attractions and activities, how long you’ll be gone, and safety measures. Trust me, you don’t want to start out the conversation by saying you’re just going to wing it. While this may sound fun and adventurous to you, in their minds they are probably imaging your funeral. By taking the time to research your destination you will ease their worries and show them how serious you are about traveling.
Points To Discuss
TELL THEM WHY:
More than anything else, what your parents ultimately want for you is happiness. However, their idea of how you will achieve this is probably different from yours. Tell them why this is so important to you and explain how travel will not only add to your happiness, but also improve your overall quality of life. Once they see how passionate you are and how much it means to you, they’ll start to come around.
STAYING IN TOUCH:
Be considerate and make plans on how you will stay in touch. Remember, you may be an adult now but to them you are and always will be their babies. Nothing will change that. They will want to know where you are, what you’re doing and that you are safe. So make plans on how often you will call – Maybe it’s once a day or once a week, whatever it is you decide, stick to it.
HOW YOU WILL AFFORD THIS:
One of the first questions they are likely to ask is how you plan to pay for the trip. Have a set budget and save up the money before talking to your parents, that way they will see that you are financially prepared. If you’re planning a long trip, have some money put away for when you return to set yourself up again and show them that you are thinking of the future.
Otherwise, if you plan to work while you travel, be sure to tell them how you plan to do this.
Discuss the details of your trip and give them a hard copy of your itinerary. Cover everything, and I mean everything! The more detailed the better. This includes flights, accommodation, transportation, routes, food, attractions and all the awesome adventures you’ll be on. Another thing that really helps is showing photos of the places you’ll be going and staying, and even introducing them to blogs of other people who are traveling solo.
Your safety is without a doubt the main concern your parents and loved ones have. To most people traveling alone sounds dangerous, and you will always have someone telling you how stupid it is to travel alone because of something they saw in the news. But the truth is that traveling solo can actually be very safe despite what the media says. As long as you use your common sense, trust your instincts and take the necessary safety precautions you should be fine. Listed below are some things you can do:
- Explain the ways you will stay safe and avoid putting yourself into potentially dangerous situations. Such as staying in crowded areas, asking locals for advice, not staying out late and drinking, and keeping valuables hidden from view as not to attract unwanted attention.
- Often times the place we are traveling to can be statistically safer than home and have a much lower crime rate. If this is the case for where you are going, show them this data.
- Know the emergency number for the police, ambulance and fire department. This number differs from country to country and is important to know in case something happens.
- Get travel insurance and any vaccinations needed for your destination
A good way to get your parents to be more accepting of your solo travel dreams is to slowly ease them into it. Taking a few mini solo trips close to home first will be easier for them and once they see how well you can handle being off on your own, a bigger solo trip will be easier to wrap their head around.
If All Else Fails
Your parents probably won’t be completely on board wit you traveling solo immediately after the discussion. Give them some time to think about it and let all it all sink in. If they’re still completely against the idea after this, then don’t let this stop you from going after your dreams. This is your life and you are in charge of your own happiness, and while your parent’s acceptance would be preferable, it’s not necessary. Don’t let the opinions of others stop you from achieving your goals, and hopefully, your parents will come around eventually once they see for themselves how capable you are.