From the father of Jessie Festa, a girl who travels the world. Just a few simple words I had to convince myself of, and believe in.
Let’s face it; as parents, our worrying begins with conception through birth, but only increases exponentially throughout the years of development and the dreaded dating period. Frankly, I was never a great host to any suitor who knocked on our front door; but some adapted, some tolerated me and lived through it, and some did not come back.
Jessie going away to college was not exactly a relaxing period in my life. It was always a worry to watch her get on the local school bus growing up; but to have her hundreds of miles away…yikes. She even went to Sydney, Australia for a semester while attending college. Double yikes.
At long last came college graduation. Great! No more long distance worrying for me, I thought.
Until one day she said she was taking a course to be a Travel Blogger. Once she defined what it entailed I had an urgent need to call my gastroenterologist. Remaining calm, I went through with her the simple theory of “why don’t you get a normal job like everyone else”; however, that wisdom fell on deaf ears. I kept trying to convince myself that she is a young women, even an adult, if I had to force myself to believe it.
Dealing With My Daughter’s First Solo Trip
Her first solo backpacking adventure was a torment for me. I worried 24/7, day and night. Then there were trips with other bloggers, which were a little easier on my nervous digestive system because I believe there is safety in numbers. That idea simply amounted to a slightly reduced level of anxiety. I always found myself Googling the U.S. State Department for the latest travel safety bulletins and, quite honestly, I still do that to today.
Finally there came a comforting revelation about her travel characteristics and her ability to deal with strangers, tour guides, taxi drivers, con-artists and beggars when I accompanied her on a trip to Istanbul, Turkey with a subsequent cruise to eight Turkish and Greek Isles. Each time a situation developed and “Dad” was going to handle it, she would just say to me “I got this.” She handled every incident, came out on top and left me wondering where my little girl had gone.
Coping With The Stress
Fortunately for me Jessie has always remained in touch daily when on the road, which in of itself is a great consolation. There have been times where she has visited remote areas where communications would be unavailable, though she would tell me when she would be able to contact me again before getting there. Those blackout periods are a little difficult to endure, but I constantly remind myself of how well she handled herself on our trip together to the Eastern Mediterranean.
From her travels Jessie has gained maturity, excellent organizational skills and worldly knowledge of numerous cultures. She has experienced people, places and adventures many of us only dream about, and unfortunately will never do. She is like a talking version of National Geographic at a family gathering complete with pictures.
I believe and trust in my daughter’s ability for solo travel. She is intelligent, responds well to unexpected change, is an excellent planner, has street smarts, and is very health and safety conscience. Jessie always maintains a 360-degree consciousness of her surrounding regardless of where she is.
Do I still worry about her? Of course I do, whether she is here in New York or 10,000 miles away in a strange land. Simply put, I’m her father, and that’s just one of the many jobs related to bringing up my daughter.
My Advice To Other Parents Of Solo Travelers
For parents whose children have decided to travel solo I offer the following advice for your own piece of mind:
- Instruct them to always be conscious of their surroundings. Go over exactly what this means to both of you.
- Have confidence in them as they are out of the nest now, so let them fly and follow their heart and dreams.
- It always relaxed me to tell family members and friends about where Jessie was and about trip details from our previous conversations. It made me feel like I was almost there, traveling with her.
Do you have any advice or experiences to add to “An Open Letter From The Father Of A Solo Female Traveler”? Please share in the comments below.
50 Essential Tips For The First Time Solo Traveler [Blog Inspiration]
Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Travel Safety]
The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Leith Waugh [Great Reads]