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An Open Letter From The Mother Of A Female Solo Traveler

an open letter

Jessie, traveling solo in the remote country of Bhutan

I am the mother of a solo traveler.

The first time my daughter, Jessie, traveled solo I was scared to death. She had left New York to study abroad in Australia, though that was in a more controlled environment. I also took comfort in the fact she’d be with other students, and that there was always a point of contact.

Going Remote

The following year her solo trip was less easy for me to digest. She decided to go to Thailand to teach English in a remote village. Not being a world traveler myself, I remember worrying that the destination was so out of the way that anything could happen. Worst of all, if something did happen I might not even know about it.

Before the trip we went to buy an international cell phone so we could call and keep in touch. Like most plans in life, that did not work out so well, as Jessie was in a remote area with no Wi-Fi or cell service. We started depending on her emailing from the teaching office when she could get access to the administration’s one computer. For me, it was not often enough.

Needless to say, I could not wait for her to come home.

an open letter

Jessie (as a little girl) and I on Christmas

A Paralyzing Fear

In one sense, I was happy that she was independent enough to experience the chance of a lifetime; however, it worried me. The world was getting scarier and she was going farther away. I would ask myself questions: What if she gets lost? What if something happens and I cannot be there? What do I do if I don’t hear from her for a few days? 

At times, the fear was almost paralyzing, especially when I would not hear from my daughter when I assumed I would. I would wake up in the middle of the night to check emails. My mind would wander and I would think the worst. This was probably the longest month of my life. It was such a relief when she finally arrived home.

an open letter

Jessie (as a little girl) and I spending the day swimming and fishing

Learning To Cope

I was hoping that trip would be the end of her solo adventures, but no. Jessie informed me the following year she would be traveling Europe for a summer on her own. Her trip was starting in Ireland. A month or so before the trip she asked if I would like to go with her to Ireland and England, and then she would go off on her own after that. I accepted the invitation, and much to my relief I found that she was actually a very good traveler. Watching her being aware of her surroundings and navigating her way around foreign cities made me much more comfortable with her traveling solo after that trip.

an open letter

Jessie and I exploring together. From left to right, top to bottom: crabbing on Long Island, enjoying the beach in Ireland, hiking in Sleepy Hollow New York, and taking in some Irish sea views.

She has since decided to do travel blogging for a living, and so she is gone quite often, and goes to some very remote places. I am more relaxed than I was the first time; but only because of email , Wi-Fi and the occasional Skype call. I still worry, of course, and find myself checking for late night emails and tracking the time until she comes home.

As Jessie’s mother, I will always be concerned about her safety — especially in today’s times — but I do believe she needs to live the life she wants. Traveling is her passion. Her travel experiences have helped her become the wonderful daughter and woman she is.

My Advice To Other Parents Of Solo Travelers

To parents of other solo traveling children, I offer the following advice for some piece of mind:

  • Have a plan for contacting your child, allowing for problems with internet. Skype is a helpful app where they can call home for cheap when in Wi-Fi areas.
  • Make sure to have an itinerary of where they are planning to be and when. Once I knew where Jessie would be I would occupy myself by looking up the local attractions and things to do.
  • Keep yourself occupied so you have something else to do besides worry.

What advice or experiences would you add to “An Open Letter From The Mother Of A Solo Traveler”? Please share in the comments below. 

An Open Letter From The Mother Of A Female Solo Traveler

Recommended:

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]

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9 Comments

  1. jalal on March 6, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    bravo,dear mother.i admire this sentence:
    ” i do believe she needs to live the life she wants”

  2. Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate on May 13, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I love this, Jessie’s mom! My own mother was a solo traveler, bopping around Europe for three years in her 20s, and then I followed suit going abroad for six months alone when I was 20. 14 years and 120 countries later, I’m still doing it =)

    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Jessie Festa on May 14, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      @Kristin: That’s so awesome your mom traveled solo, too! It must have been quite the adventure — especially without all the technology we have today. Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

  3. Kareemah on May 13, 2017 at 10:21 am

    This hit home! My parents are exactly like this. I moved to Spain and they were constantly worried. They just couldn’t wait for me to come back. And you know after traveling you get bitten by the bug and are on the road again. I wonder how my parents would take it when they learn I will be traveling again. Good post. I’ll send it to them as a resource.

    • Jessie Festa on May 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      @Kareemah: So true. I always was like “This is my last trip. For real this time!”…I’m still waiting for my travel bug to wear off 🙂

  4. Susana on May 13, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Awe, I LOVE this! I’m sharing it with my mom as I am sure she will find comfort that she is not the only mom going through this. I often forget to give my mom a plan of how to contact me, so I need to remember to do that. Happy mother’s day to you and your mom and happy travels!

    • Jessie Festa on May 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      @Susana: Luckily nowadays there are so many ways to stay in contact: Skype, WhatsApp, KnowRoaming global sim cards, public WiFi. I’ve found keeping in touch eases my parent’s minds A LOT.

  5. Lula Dolz on May 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Super cute, original post – thanks for sharing Jessie and mum! Your honest account is really lovely, and yep the fact that you support your daughter so much is incredible. Lots of parents seem to struggle with accepting their child’s different lifestyle so good for you, it takes strength and lots of love. Sure you both feel very lucky to have each other! 🙂 🙂

    • Jessie Festa on May 14, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      @Lula: Thanks! I’ve gotten so many emails from worried parents over the years asking “Wow! How do your parents cope? I need to know the secret!” So I figured I’d have my mom guest post to let the world know exactly how she handles it 🙂

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