This is a hard subject to write about and no, mum this isn’t aimed directly at you, but there are plenty of us out there who have the travel bug but lack the confidence to take the leap. There can be many reasons to stop us: Financial independence, fear of the unknown, not wanting to leave loved ones behind, and ‘parent pressure’.
Even though you’re a grown up real-life adult, sometimes it can be hard for parents to let go and understand that you need to travel to experience life your way. After all, it was different for them.
My parents were expected to leave school, get a job, get married, buy a house and have babies all before their mid twenties. Travelling was something you did for two weeks a year or after you retire.
So it’s no wonder that they find it hard to understand this new lifestyle. The new ‘norm’ is increasingly for people to travel whilst they are young enough to enjoy it and have no financial burdens, then settle down later – in their mid twenties or early thirties to build a home and a family.
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I know that when I took my first round the world trip when I was 23, my mum was beside herself with worry. She must have tried every trick in the book to convince me to stay, but I was determined. And you know what? It was the best thing I ever did.
I saw more in that seven month trip than I’d seen in a lifetime before. I learned a lot about myself too, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that enriching experience.
So with this in mind, I thought it might be useful to give some advice for convincing overprotective or worried parents that you’re old and mature enough to travel the world. They may offer up dozens of excuses why you should just stay where you are, climb the career ladder, settle down and pop out some kids, so here’s my advice on combating these hurdles.
Excuse #1 – You’ll end up broke and have to start from scratch
Counter it: Reassure them that you’ve got enough money saved for at least the first few months of your travels (and actually save the money), and if you’re planning on working as you go, tell them what you’ll be doing. Will you be teaching English abroad? Working on farms with other travellers? Working at a bar or cafe? Working remotely from your laptop as a writer or social media manager?
There are literally millions of casual jobs out there to support a life of travel for a little while, you just have to know where to look. Here are some handy resources for working or saving money on accommodation whilst travelling:
Fiverr – Sell just about any service for $5 or more.
Upwork – Find freelancing gigs all over the world.
Trusted Housesitters – Look after someone’s house or pet when they are away.
TEFL – Teach English abroad.
Open English – Teach English online.
Au Pair World – Work as an Au Pair abroad.
If you’re not planning on working as you travel, or even if you are, set a daily or weekly budget for your travels. Find out how much is costs to travel in various countries by looking it up online. There are plenty of forums and blogs with budgets included. Here’s some example posts on how much it costs to travel in India for a month, two months and three months.
Also, put aside a little money for when you come home. You’ll need it for the ticket back (if not booked already) and the time before you get yourself set up again. Once your parents see that you’re financially responsible, they’ll feel more comfortable about you going away.
Excuse #2 – Your career will suffer
Counter it: To be fair, the way things are going, you’ll be working until you’re 75 anyway, so a year or so of not slaving away behind a desk isn’t going to make a lot of difference. Plus, employers look at so much more than just your working history. Most look for a well-rounded individual, so it’s true that your career can actually be enhanced by travelling.
Take me as an example. I left a great job working in marketing at Virgin Holidays to travel for 7 months. My parents thought I was crazy giving up such a great job for just over half a year of travel, especially as the UK was entering its worst recession in over 50 years.
However when I returned, I had so much confidence and I was ready to work again. On my first interview for John Lewis as a marketing executive, I got the job. Not because of my impressive resume, but because I was confident and assertive.
This then started a chain of events which ultimately led me to leading a team in one of the best travel companies in the business, and then travelling the world and working independently, which is what I do now.
My point is, what exactly even is a career? If it’s stepping all over others to get to the top as quickly as possible then you’re doing it wrong. Take your time, see the world, learn some stuff and then be useful to others, rather than just a money-grabbing prick. Nobody likes a money-grabbing prick.
Excuse #3 – You know nothing of the world
Counter it: Errr… yes, because I haven’t seen any of it yet. How am I supposed to become worldly without actually seeing the world? This argument makes no sense. Next!
Excuse #4 – The world isn’t safe
Counter it: This one’s a bit of a doozie, as if your parentals haven’t travelled much themselves, the last thing you want to do is insult them by making them think that it is in fact they who know nothing of the world (see excuse 3).
This argument is usually presented by the mum or dad who have had limited experience of travelling beyond package holidays and trips to the Norfolk coast. It’s not their fault though. The media does a sterling job of making everyone in the world seem like rapists, murderers and kidnappers (ever seen Taken?).
If your only window to the world involves the front page of The Daily Mail and missing persons pleas on your Facebook newsfeed then of course you’re going to have trust issues.
But remember that newspapers, magazines and television have to sift out everything they feel isn’t ‘newsworthy’, and ultimately this leads to a lot of bad news. You’re more likely to buy a paper with the headline ‘Massive Earthquake in Chile’ than ‘Cat Stuck Up Tree – Returns Unharmed’.
Make sure you ease your parents’ worry by making a solid plan, doing your research on the culture of the places you’re visiting, their current political situations and any official government travel advice. Find communities of other travellers online if you want to find friends before you go (try Girls vs Globe on Facebook, or download the Ventoura App).
Ensure you have a back up plan (I like to keep a spare credit card separate from my main purse in case of theft / loss), and get proper travel insurance, y’know in case you sprain you ankle or anything… I recommend Insure & Go.
Remember the mantra: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Love how you can apply that to anything in life.
Excuse #5 – I’ll miss you too much
Counter it: OK this is where we’re getting to the real crux of the issue. The fact is, your parents will miss you when you’re away… A lot. You’re their little baby, after all.
So make a promise to keep in touch. There are lots of ways to update them on your travelling progress – Skype, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook, Email… whatever they feel comfortable with. And make sure you stick to it. A quick Skype once a week will put their mind at ease and will allow you to share your amazing travelling stories, too!
If your plans allow, set a return date so they can look forward to seeing you again. On my first trip I had a set return date and my mum crossed off the days on her calendar until I was home. Every time we spoke it was ‘only 93 days until you come home!’. Kind of depressing for me, but it was exactly what she needed to do at the time.
My final piece of advice to you is to just book the ticket. Until you do that, your travel dreams are just ‘pie in the sky’. I know I talked about travelling for a long time before I actually did it and my parents’ response was always ‘well, that’ll never happen’. Trust me when I say they are not going to take you seriously until you make the commitment and actually buy a seat on a plane (or train, or bus, or boat).
These are just a few of the excuses you might hear from your parents when planning your travels. Have you heard any more?
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