HOW to TALK to WORRIED PARENTS
It’s common for those that care about us – parents, spouses, siblings and friends – to be concerned about you traveling solo, no less about your first trip overseas, even if it’s part of a group or study abroad program. It is always a difficult conversation. They may try to talk you out of the trip or be upset over worries about your safety. Planning that conversation is important.
Know the Answer to ‘Why?’
This may be their first reaction. The urge to travel can be a little vague, but reasons such as looking to experience different cultures and different places, and the opportunity to see some of the great sights of the world are a good starting point that your parents will be able to understand. Explain why your current point in life is a good opportunity: before a career, traveling between careers, studying abroad or before you settle down.
How are you Going to Stay in Touch?
Set expectations early on about how often you are going to be calling or emailing – once a week or every other week – and whether you will be emailing when the phone connections are limited. Offering to “call when you can” may not cut it with loved ones, so respect their concerns for your safety by committing to regular calls or emails.
If blogging or staying connected through social media, make sure they know how to see what you are up to and what your next steps are, as knowing that you’re well and what you are doing will be reassuring. Use Internet cafes or a smartphone to email or Skype whenever you have a WiFi connection. An unlocked smartphone can use international data plans. American travelers do best with a plan with T Mobile: inexpensive, free unlimited international data and texting (text your normal phone number and post photos to Facebook as often as you like without paying insane data roaming fees) and no contracts (use month to month without having to commit to 2-years of service like other providers).
Emphasize How Safe Travel Generally Is
Safety is likely to be a big element of concern so tell them the type of safety precautions you are going to take, and how safe and friendly solo travel can be.
Plan travel insurance and the financial aspects of travel so they know your budget and that you have enough money to support your trip.
Research Your Destination
Now get into the nitty-gritty of your journey – each destination. Play up the cultural aspects and key attractions and play down the “Full Moon Party” experiences. Your parents can then understand your enthusiasm. Look after the following: For U.S. citizens, use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Get Travel insurance for both medical and travel protection to ensure safety. Present a Visual Itinerary
Outline your tentative itinerary and show photos of the destinations. Visual interpretations may correct skewed beliefs.
Discuss How Traveling Solo Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be Alone
Being able to meet locals and other travelers will help them feel better. Safety in numbers can provide reassurance and help them understand how you can consider starting such a journey alone.