For most parents, accepting that their little kiddo is going to travel the world alone can be scary. Especially if they aren’t experienced travellers themselves or -even worse!- if you are a girl. This is exactly my case and I promise you that with a few precautions you can actually spare them the panic attack. My parents’ confidence and support didn’t just arise overnight. They required years and years of baby steps in testing confidence, boundaries and trust. But in the end, we all got so successful at not-freaking-out that recently I’ve also managed to drop that I’m into long-term travelling and digital nomadism. So here are a few tips on how to tell your parents you want to travel solo.
Test your -and your family- confidence with a short trip
If you – and your family- are new to solo travelling, start with a short trip. Choose a location that makes you feel comfortable. For me, it was ten days of travelling in Norway, which is one of the safest countries in Europe, with a great hostel culture and plenty of daytime activities to do by myself or with new friends.
Research your itinerary and explain it to them
If this is your first solo trip, I’m sure you’ve spent hours trying to plan it. Make your parents part of your research. Show them your itinerary (with pictures), the activities you are planning to do and some of the accommodation you’re going to stay in. Is it a nice young hostel? Even better! Show them you’re going to spend time with fellow travellers your age and not creepy old strangers as in their worst nightmares.
Give them visuals of the places you’re going to visit
“I’m moving to the Philippines” can be a scary affirmation to process for a westerner parent that have never left Europe, let alone travelled to Asia. They’re probably picturing a poverty-stricken country, where there isn’t any edible food nor hospital care. So, after explaining how going there for a while can be an extremely enriching experience, help them visualize the paradise you’re moving to. Show them pictures of lush nature, wonderful beaches or cultural sights, happy locals and tasty food. To prepare my parents for my three months stay in the Philippines, I showed them a documentary about Sanne, a Swedish girl who built an eco-friendly hostel in tiny Siargao and founded a local charity there. For my time in Bali, I showed Marco Randelovich wonderful documentaries:
Share your insurance details with them
Show them that you take your health seriously. Buy a travel health insurance and check if you need any special vaccination BEFORE they can ask about it! Showing them that you’ve already taken care of the-most-important-aspect-of your-trip (aka your health), without them having to push you to do it will make you score a big point on the adulthood scale! Their proudness may soon morph into another level of stress: “Which company is this? I never heard about it. Why can’t we just use our regular local insurance provider?” but this is a whole other story.
Stay connected while travelling
Nowadays, there are so many ways to stay in touch with your loved ones while travelling. Agree on a schedule of skype/WhatsApp calls and stick to it. If you know that you will be travelling in an area of poor signal inform them in advance. Send nice pictures and stories via WhatsApp or Instagram every now and then and always keep them updated on your itinerary. One of my family traditions to stay connected is sending postcards. I find it old-fashioned and super cute. All my postcards are still hanged on my parents’ fridge!