One common question many of my readers ask — especially my female readers — is how to convince family and friends to be okay with them traveling solo. Dealing with loved ones who just don’t understand your need to experience the world can be tough. The first time I traveled alone, aside for studying abroad, was when I was 21 and wanted to travel through South East Asia and China for the summer. My parents didn’t approve, and although I didn’t want to upset them I also didn’t want to let them hold me back, so I went ahead and bought the plane ticket. I still consider this one of the best decision’s I ever made in my life.
Over the years I’ve come up with a few tactics on how to help loved ones be more accepting of my desire to travel solo. Have anything to add? Please share in the comments below.
1. Explain to them why you’re going
Don’t just tell concerned loved ones you’re backpacking Argentina solo; explain why. Tell them what parts of the culture you want to explore and what attractions you want to see. Moreover, explain why you want to travel solo — so you can have an internal journey, because you can’t find anyone else to go and don’t want that to stop you, because you don’t want anyone else influencing your plans. Whatever your reasoning for wanting to do the trip, help them understand.
2. Show them articles by others who’ve done the journey
There are so many great solo travel blogs out there, especially by fearless females. Show concerned loved ones these blogs — bonus points if you can find posts on the same destination you’re looking to go to — so they can see other people are doing the same thing and growing from the experience. Along with Jessie on a Journey, some other great solo travel bloggers include Alex in Wanderland, Adventurous Kate, Janice Waugh, Kristina Meakin, Jodi Ettenberg, Adam Groffman, Derek Earl Baron, Rob Lloyd and Nomadic Matt, to name a few.
3. Do research on country safety
Not only will this help to keep you safe, it’ll show your family and friends you’re serious about doing the trip the right way. Share your findings to help alleviate their worries.
4. Invest in safety essentials
Be proactive and invest in some safety essentials, like a safety whistle, luggage locks, pickpocket-proof clothing and a waterproof neck pouch if you’ll be going to the beach. Again, this will not only help keep you safe but will show family and friends you’re serious about doing the trip right.
5. Don’t ask for permission
If you feel you’re mature enough to embark on a solo traveling journey, you shouldn’t need to ask for permission. Of course you want your parents and friends to be supportive, but you also have to do what’s best for you. Don’t ask for permission, but instead explain why you’re going.
6. Start small
If your family and friends are having a hard time with you traveling solo, start by doing a small trip to show them you’re organized and can navigate yourself. If you live in New York and your dream is to backpack Europe solo start by taking a weekend trip to Maine by yourself. Then maybe spend a week in California on your own. This can also help build up your confidence as a solo traveler.
7. State the facts
“But [insert country/city name here] is so dangerous,” is a statement you may hear from concerned family and friends. Instead of shouting back that it’s not, back up your argument with facts. Do some research on the crime rate, what cities are safe, quality of life and tourism and help build a credible case for yourself.
8. Remind them that you can always come home
Air transportation isn’t going anywhere, and if you end up really feeling unsafe or uncomfortable you can always come home. Remind loved ones you’re bringing your credit card in case you need to book an emergency flight.
9. Take a self-defense class
Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Give yourself the necessary skills to defend yourself in an emergency, for your parent’s sake and for your own.
10. Start a blog
Start a blog so loved ones can follow you on your journey and see what a great time you’re having and that you’re safe. Having the ability to virtually communicate with you and feel like they’re with you will help to assuage their fears of you being far away.
11. Offer to bring a cell phone
While you may not want to, it’s a nice idea to offer to bring a cell phone and call every few days of your trip to say hello. Just remember to keep any data and roaming turned off and to use a service like Skype to keep costs low. Bonus: You can use your phone to double as a camera for travel photos.
12. Realize you’re doing this for you
In the end, you may not be able to convince your loved ones traveling alone is a good idea. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, just that you’re going to have to go without a full blessing. Most likely, once you buy your plane ticket these people will at least be accepting of it and will be excited for you. Continue to help ease their minds through the process, but realize you’re doing something wonderful for yourself that will make you a more well-rounded and worldly person.