Telling your family about your decision to travel solo can often be an uphill battle. They might not understand your purpose for going alone. They might ask why you don’t “just travel somewhere in the U.S.” or plan a trip with a friend instead. If you’ve experienced this, you are not “alone.”
Resistance doesn’t only come from family but also spouses, partners, friends, or coworkers as well. So, what’s the best way to assure the people in your life that you’ll be safe on your own in a foreign country?
This was the recent experience of one solo traveler who turned to The Budget-Minded Traveler Community Facebook group for advice.
Here is what they had to say:
Be prepared to answer WHY you want to travel solo.
For some, traveling equates to two weeks spent on the same Caribbean island resort every year. For others, it means road trips to the next state over for your family’s annual camping trip. Still, for others, it could mean the occasional “staycation.” There is nothing wrong with these sorts of escapes, except when they just aren’t satiating your travel bug. Why is your current travel situation not cutting it for you? What is it that is drawing you to experience solo travel?
If your parents know exactly why you want to travel on your own, they might be more likely to support you. Safety shouldn’t be their only concern, they also want you to be happy, right?
“For me, it’s just been something that my parents have gotten used to. They still give me a hard time about it sometimes, but they see how happy it makes me, and I think that makes them happy. And at the end of the day, it’s not for them, it’s for me.”
“Every time I come back from my travels, I feel like I’m better able to plug back into my family, I’m ready to share the next adventure with them & my soul is fed.”
While you’re having this discussion with your parents, remind them who raised you and how well they did.
“Initially I ignored my mom’s protests and negative comments… eventually, I spoke up and had a heart to heart with her. I am over 40, raised two kids alone… and was raised by a great mom. I know how to take care of myself.”
Related: 5 Ways Solo Travel Will Change You
Share details about your travel plans.
The opposition you may experience is likely concern for your safety and nothing to do with your capabilities. Those in the group thread agreed that sharing travel plans went a long way in easing parental concern.
Make sure to include a basic overview of your travel plans. Include flight (or other transportation) itineraries, the cities you’ll be in, accommodations you’ll stay at, and some of the sights you might go see.
Alicia, who initiated this conversation in the BMT Community Facebook group, wrote to me following her trip. She said, “I sent [the information] to my parents as well as my in-laws, a few friends, and my grandparents. First I outlined my flight itinerary, then listed my hotel’s contact information. I explained that it’s staffed 24/7 and is in a safe neighborhood on a quiet street. I listed each day I would be in Paris, as well as a description of what I might do that day, which wasn’t much, considering most of my days were up in the air.” Sharing all this information, she mentioned, worked to ease her family’s concerns.
Be sure to include transportation specifics, like the name of the airlines or bus companies you’re using. Include flight numbers and estimated arrival times, too. If an accident were to occur, this information would be crucial for them to track you down, and that could offer peace of mind. The more specific you are, the better they may feel. Like Alicia, you may not know the activities you’ll be doing every day, but providing a list of potential activities seems to work well.
Others chimed in with similar experiences:
“I share my flight information and itinerary, so they know where I am during my trip. That helps them feel a little better when we are off seeing new sights!”
“I make out a travel document for my parents so they have all the info on where I’m staying and what I plan to do.”
“I do share my travel plans with them to show them I’ve done my research and I send them pictures every few days if I’m gone for a couple weeks or every week if I’m gone longer than that.”
Related: Coping with Anxiety While Traveling
Keep in touch while you’re traveling.
Agree on a communication schedule. You can choose daily or weekly phone calls, quick text messages, or social media updates. There was a general consensus in the conversation that sharing photos of yourself having the time of your life is quite helpful.
“Whenever I would get to a new country, I would tag my mom on FB and then try [to] call either one of my parents or kids each day.”
“…Skype to show lodgings and send MarcoPolo messages to show cool and unique things.”
“…it’s always helpful to post on some social media once a day so everyone can see I’m still out enjoying myself.”
“…get a sim card as soon as you arrive and keep them updated with pictures and texts that show them how much you are enjoying yourself.”
Tell them ahead of time if you’ll be in remote areas or regions where the internet is unreliable. If they don’t hear from you for a couple of days, they’ll know why and wait for an update.
“I check in when I have wifi and try to let them know when I’m in a more remote place (so they don’t freak out if I haven’t checked in [for] 3 days or something).”
Introduce them to other solo travelers.
Prove to naysayers that solo travel is actually a very common thing. There are plenty of books, blogs, and podcasts created from the first-hand experience of solo travelers. Share all these resources with them. It’s possible that someone’s story will speak to them and they’ll gain a better understanding of the benefits of solo travel.
In her follow-up email, Alicia also said, “I tried to reassure them several times by telling them about the BMT group, the podcast, and other solo female travel bloggers I follow.”
What to do if you’re questioned by people you meet on the road.
Depending on the countries you plan to travel through, being alone might be unacceptable in their culture. This might be especially true for women and even more so for married women. Locals or other travelers that you meet on the road might also question your decision to go alone. If you’re ever in that type of situation, think about what this member said she did:
“I did get comments on my last solo and girlfriends trip that I was not traveling with my husband, but not from family, just acquaintances and people I met traveling – which I just laughed off by saying…he’s at home working while I play this week.”
It’s your decision and your confidence that will carry you through.
Plus, the “bottom line is this is a decision between you & your husband.”
Do what makes you happy.
In the end, do what you want to do. You’ll never know whether or not you’re cut out for solo travel unless you give it a try. Another member put it very well when she said: “…the only real thing I’ve discovered in my very short time of small solo trips is that the more I do it, the less weird it is for those around me.”
So, “Love and respect your parents, but do what makes you happy! They [have] lived their life the way they wanted to.. now it’s your turn! Live!”
“Don’t worry about your parents. They [don’t] have to approve. Focus on the joy of going, plug into supportive friends & family & ENJOY the process. ADVENTURE AWAITS!”
The Budget-Minded Traveler Community on Facebook is a free resource for answers to all your travel questions, like the one that inspired this post. We are over 6,800 members strong and counting. Join us today!