It’s common for those that care about us to be concerned with a solo trip. This concern is not limited to parents, but spouses, siblings and friends may all have valid reasons to be worried about you traveling solo. It’s also not just limited to solo travel, but loved one’s that might be concerned with your first trip overseas- even if it’s part of a group or study abroad program.
One of the most difficult conversations that you can have in the build up to your plans to go traveling is explaining to your loved ones what you are planning to do, and dealing with their reactions to the announcement.
They will naturally have concerns about your safety and will want to make sure that you aren’t making the decision on a whim.
Solo travel is an amazing and exciting adventure for many people and can be empowering and life changing, but if your loved ones are likely to try and talk you out of it or may be upset about your choice, it might be worth planning the conversation to try and keep things on track.
Here are a few tips on how to talk to worried parents about traveling solo!
Know the Answer to ‘Why?’
This is the first reaction that many people will have to your announcement that you want to go traveling and, in some cases, the question will be ‘why?’, so have a good explanation ready.
The urge to travel can be a little vague, but reasons such as looking to experience different cultures and different places, and the opportunity to see some of the great sights of the world are a good starting point that your parents will be able to understand.
It might also be wise to think about explaining why your current point in life is a good opportunity, such as traveling before you get into a career, traveling between careers, studying abroad or before you settle down.
How are you Going to Stay in Touch?
Staying in touch with your loved ones is something that they will be concerned about, but it is important to set expectations early on about how often you are going to be calling or emailing.
Whether you plan to call once a week or every other week, have a rough estimate of when you are likely to be able to get in touch, and whether you are going to be emailing when the phone connections are limited.
Offering to “call when you can” may not cut it with loved ones, so respect their concerns for your safety by committing to regular calls or emails.
If you are planning to start a blog or are going to look to stay connected through social media, make sure they know how to see what you are up to and what your next steps are, as even if your parents don’t get to talk to you directly, knowing that you’re well and what you are doing will be reassuring for them.
Typically, there are internet cafes around the world where you can pay a small fee to use a computer to email your loved ones. Traveling with a smartphone or tablet is also a great option so that you can connect via Skype whenever you have a WiFi connection.
It’s a great idea to have an unlocked smartphone so that you can use international data plans. My best advice for American travelers is to get a plan with T Mobile. Their service is inexpensive and there are no contracts, so you can use their service month to month without having to commit to 2-years of service like other providers.
The best part of T Mobile plans is that they offer FREE unlimited international data and texting for all of their plans. That way your loved ones can text your normal phone number and you can post photos to Facebook as often as you like without paying insane data roaming fees.
I’ve been using their service for nearly a year and use my phone regardless of whether I’m in Mexico, Canada or England!
Emphasize How Safe Travel Generally Is
Safety is likely to be a big element of concern when you discuss going traveling with your loved ones, so make sure that you discuss with them the type of safety precautions you are going to take, and how safe and friendly solo travel can be.
If your parents know that you aren’t going to be recklessly getting a lift back to your Colombian hostel with “that guy” outside the club, it will help set their minds at ease.
When it comes to planning things like travel insurance and the financial planning side of travel, also have a plan so your loved one’s know you have considered your budget and will have enough money to support your trip.
READ MORE: Ten Solo Female Travel Safety Tips
Research Your Destination
Once your parents have recovered from the announcement that you are going to be traveling solo, you’ll need to get into the nitty gritty of your journey, and the different considerations you have taken when choosing each destination.
Depending on your relationship with your loved ones, you may want to play up the cultural aspects and play down the “Full Moon Party” experiences in some countries. Knowing the key attractions in each destination will help your parents to understand your enthusiasm.
It will also help to show that you have researched important planning details, such as:
- For U.S. citizens, use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Get Travel insurance as it provides both medical and travel protection to ensure you have a safe journey
Present a Visual Itinerary
If you are planning ahead, put your itinerary in a powerpoint presentation along with photos of the destinations you are traveling.
Sometimes people have a skewed idea of a destination and their visual interpretations of such are the biggest hurdle to get over.
Telling your mom you want to travel solo to Mexico vs showing her photos of your travel plans swimming with Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox or doing yoga at a resort in Tulum stimulate very different levels of imagination.
Discuss How Traveling Solo Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be Alone
This is a factor that is often mentioned when it comes to solo travel, and having an open discussion about how you will meet locals and other travelers as you explore will help them to feel better.
The old idea of safety in numbers is one that can provide reassurance, and it will also help your parents to understand how you can consider starting such a journey alone.