A step-by-step guide into talking to your worried parents (or other loved ones) about solo travel. This is everything you need to know and plan for to help ease their concerns, and to give you the best chance of having their blessings before you jet off!
Solo travel is one of the best experiences you can possibly have in your life. It provides so many opportunities for personal growth – I highly, highly recommend everyone trying out solo travel at least once in their lives!
1. Don’t Get Mad!
So you’ve just excitedly told your parents that you want to try solo travel, and they weren’t particularly impressed. Before you flip out, consider their feelings. No matter how old you are, you’re still their baby! They’re just worried about you! That’s the job of a parent – to worry. You don’t need (or want) to get mad – it’ll likely just make things that much more difficult. Stay calm, and accept that that’s how they’re feeling at that point.
2. Explain Why You Wanna Go Solo
One of the most common questions people who travel solo get asked is “Why? Why go solo?”. Know the answer! While one of the jobs of a parent is to worry, another is to help you grow. Presenting your travel plans as a way to grow (whether personally or professionally) is always a good way to go. Greater independence, experiencing other cultures, learning about the world, expanding your horizons – they’re all very common, very valid reasons behind why people decide to try solo travel.
Timing can also be a major factor. Maybe you’ve just graduated high school or university, or are about to start a new job. Explaining why the current point in your life is the perfect time for solo travel can definitely help ease worried parents into the idea!
3. Learn Why They’re Concerned – Then Ease Those Concerns
It’s time for you to ask why! Learn why your parents are worried – sit down with them over a cup of coffee and just talk it out. Safety and money are the two main issues that come up.
Be prepared with solutions to the problem! Show them where the money for the trip will come from, and assure them you know how to stay safe. Assuring them that you’ll trust your gut instincts, and that you won’t be putting yourself in harm’s way. You won’t jump in some random guys car, or start talking to some creep hanging around outside a bar. Also make sure you make it clear you’ll be getting travel insurance.
Extra Tip: Promise You’ll Stay in Touch!
If you’re staying in touch, your parents know you’re safe! And don’t just promise to “call when you can”. Send them Facebook messages or emails every day or two. Include pictures and show them where you are and what you’re doing! Show them that you’re safe and that you’re having a good time.
4. Research Your Destination
So you’ve eased some of their concerns, it’s time to get into proper trip planning! Show them where you want to go, and explain why you want to go there. You might want to play down the “I’m gonna be sipping sangria on a beach in Spain” or “But mum, I’ve always wanted to go to the Full Moon Party!” elements of the trip, and play up the “I’m gonna be exploring Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in Barcelona” or “But mum, I’ve always wanted to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai!”.
Extra Tip: Let Them Help You Plan!
A great way of easing their worries is by letting them help you plan parts of your trip. Maybe they’ve been somewhere you’re going before, or just want to get involved. Either way, let them help you out a little. Look over destination guides together, and put together your itinerary.
Extra Tip: Plan Your Budget (+ Include Emergency Funds)
As I said earlier, one the biggest worries parents have is how you’re going to be paying for your trip. Research transport, accommodation, food and activity costs – and break it all down in a document, with totals. I always include an extra 10-15% of whatever I determine the total cost to be in my budget, so make sure you do too! Showing them that you’ve considered extra funds will also help easing worries about solo travel.
5. Show Them You Can Solo Travel
Beyond showing them that you’ve considered safety and money concerns, you also need to show them that you’ve got street smarts. Exploring your own area a little bit on your own, and showing them that you’re all good with it will also help ease concerns. It’ll also help you get used to doing things on your own – especially navigating your way around a city.
6. Give Them Your Full Itinerary
Before you leave, give your parents (and other loved ones) your full itinerary. I always include days & dates, with a breakdown of my location and accommodation details. This way they know exactly where I’m meant to be and where they can raise the alarm if something does seem wrong. If you do happen to change any plans along the way, make sure you keep them updated as soon as possible.
Extra Tip: List Your Travel Plans with Your Government
Many governments have programs where you can enter your travel details. This way, if there is an emergency on the ground (like a natural disaster), your government can find you and make sure you’re okay. For Australians, use the smartraveller website.
Do you have any other tips for talking to worried parents about solo travel? Or reasons why people should travel solo? Share in the comments below!