Travel Hacks 101: Convincing Your Parents to Let You Travel Alone!!
Let Me Guess:
You need to start convincing your parents to let you travel alone because they have either a) already freaked out or b) you’re afraid they’re about to freak out when you tell them about your travel plans (talk about solo travel problems).
Homie, I Totally Get it.
I got the SAME reaction when I casually mentioned to my parents that I would be moving to Korea (South Korea, not North Korea, where their fears would have been totally justified) to teach English.
When I told them, they started screaming about how disappointed they were in me and how they didn’t even know who I was anymore.
Between the anger, sadness, and humor I wanted to Say:
Come on guys really? I’m not selling my kidneys on the black market. I’m moving to Seoul to teach English to kindergarteners. I’m not selling my body for drugs or inducting myself into a gang that uses brass knuckles and homemade shanks to fight.
Mom and Dad, Melodramatic Much?
But all kidding aside for a hot five seconds. What do you do? I mean, do you follow your heart and completely terrify your parents or do you resentfully stay home and blame them forever for stifling your dreams.
That’s Why I’m Here!
Believe me, there is a compromise to be found. And if I can do it, you can do too! I mean, I traveled all over the world and my dad still speaks to me (my mom is no longer alive but she supported me till the end, even after the initial freak out).
And this support from the man who said:
“Mark my words, you’ll regret this one day. You’re gonna get sold into the SEX SLAVE TRADE” (in reference to my traveling to Tokyo. Don’t ask me what he has against Japan but I found solo female travel to be Japan to be just as safe as solo travel to New York City).
But Onwards to the Steps Needed To Start Convincing Your Parents to Let You be Part of Our Ever-Growing Solo Female Travel Group!
1. Talk to Your Parents (without a strategically placed eye roll)!
I know this one can be kind of hard, especially when your parents are caught between throwing a temper tantrum and being totally melodramatic and overprotective, but honestly, they may not know how you feel!
Believe it or Not:
They are not psychics and may have no idea what is going on and why you want to solo travel. I mean, if I had been more open and honest with my parents about how I was feeling and about what I was thinking of doing, they may have better understood what I was doing and why.
If I Had Communicated:
They may have even had more empathy for me. But instead, I chose to hide my feelings and spring this news on them, almost like I was suddenly saying, “Surprise, I have an STD! Aren’t you proud?”
Contrary to popular belief, your parents are not doing this to torture you and make you miserable.
Shocking, I Know!
In actuality, they love you, care about you, and are just worried that something might happen to you. I mean, my parents could have expressed this in a nicer way, but once I understood their motives, it was easier to have compassion for them and let go of some of my Titanic size, self-righteous anger.
(I wanted to be like, “If you guys could love me a little less, that’d be great. Thanks)
Or if they could have thrown some constructive, solo female travel tips my way, that would have been cool too.
2. Prove to Them That You Can Handle Traveling Alone
Ever Get the Line:
“It’s not that we don’t trust you. We just don’t trust all those crazy people in the world today”
Well, I Hate to Break it to You:
But they are kind of right. I know, whose side am I on anyway? Um, whoever is reading this female solo travel blog, that’s who. Because to me, you’re a genius, sprinkled with some of Cindy Crawford’s insane beauty, just for good measure.
Okay, I’ll stop Blowing Smoke Up Your Ass and Try to Be Helpful!
But you’re parents are right. There are really awful people out there who could really hurt you, both at home and abroad.
Your job is to show your parents that you know how to deal with these type of people and make them see that yes, you can indeed take care of yourself while traveling alone (Wouldn’t hurt to show them a list of some of the safest cities for solo female travelers. Parents LOVE stuff like that).
Research solo travel safety tips and look up some of the best countries for solo female travelers, Doing this will show your parents that you are aware of the special challenges that solo female travel creates and that you know exactly how to keep yourself safe.
They will feel more at ease knowing that you understand how to handle the difficult situations that will inevitably arise when you go on trips for solo female travelers.
(Whatever you do, don’t throw a temper tantrum, jump up and down and scream, “But I wanna go! It’s not fair! Cindy’s mom lets her do anything!” Yeah, acting like you’re five isn’t going to do much to reassure your parents of how mature you are.)
3. Contact them on a Regular Basis
I’ll Admit it:
I am terrible at this one. I mean, I went to Key West for an entire semester in college and didn’t call my mom for like two months. Shocker, she was pissed (whoops).
Yup, not a smooth move on my part.
So learn from me and keep your parents in the loop. Coordinate your schedule with them and figure out a time of day (or days) to call/text/skype/email them and then stick with it. Otherwise, they might think that you have become an inadvertent star of a TAKEN sequel.
The fact that you did NOT end up on the ten o’clock evening news does not count as active communication.
Not only will they know that you are safe, but if anything does happen, they’ll quickly realize that something is wrong and immediately send help you way (Their major worry is that something will happen to you and they will have absolutely no idea. So help put them at ease and make everyone’s life easier).
On a less morbid note, while you chat with them, you can discuss your trip, show them how much fun you’re having, and even share your love of travel with them so that they understand why solo travel, or travel in general, is so important to you.
4. Show them the Defense Department Website
This was a HUGE selling point for my parents when I moved to Korea.
At the time, shocker, relations between North and South Korea were pretty intense. And by intense I mean horrendous.
My parents thought I was gonna get blown up by a nuclear bomb every five minutes (Oh Kim Jong-un, you saucy minx you)
I showed them the Department of Defense website and all of the travel alerts issued by the government. Okay, sometimes the travel alerts weren’t so great and made things ten times worse since the government is super cautious.
I used the site to register with the American embassy in South Korea. This way, not only would I get email notifications if political tensions between the two countries worsened (aka danger, danger, runaway), but if an emergency evacuation was ever necessary, the State Department would haul my ass out of the country. Thank God that never happened.
Yup, My Parents Loved that Part!
5. Involve them in the Trip Planning Process
This is another tip that I kind of sucked at since my parents and I were both pissy and basically didn’t want to acknowledge each other for about a week.
But if I Had to do it Over:
I totally would have included them in the trip planning process to help them feel more involved in my life and like they were making some sort of contribution.
I may not actually take their advice into consideration (especially about not visiting Japan), but I could have compromised by listening to their opinion about what I should see and do while I was there. Make them feel like their opinion mattered to me.
No Trust Me, This Will Go a Long Way.
This one is huge because if I have learned anything from being old as dirt, it’s that even when you grow up, your parents still won’t stop worrying about you. And as you get older, and they have less control over your life, it is even more terrifying for them because they can’t really keep you safe. All they can do is hope that you use the tools they have (hopefully) given you to make good decisions.
Geez, I sound like my Mom!
But it’s true. In the end, most parents are just scared that you’ll get hurt and get upset because this is yet another reminder that oh yeah, they have like zero control over your life.
6. Validate Their Feelings
This one is another really important tool that once again, I did not use.
Sigh. If only I was wiser.
Rather than validating my parent’s concerns and acknowledging that there was some (even if minuscule and totally overblown) validity behind their feelings, I blew them off and gave them the cold shoulder or the proverbial, “eff you”. My whole attitude was that of an angsty teenager who was like, “Ugh. Mom and Dad, really, what do you know about anything?”
The Truth Is:
Your parents have a lot more life experience and there may be some truth to their concerns.
So instead of being pissy:
It is much more helpful to say something like, “I understand your concerns and where you’re coming from. What can I do to make you feel more at ease?”
Or something along those lines that doesn’t sound so clinical.
Oh man, I really am starting to sound like my parents. Next thing you know I’ll be eating Tapioca pudding through a straw, receiving sponge baths from a non-hot male nurse, and complaining about how the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.
Dear God, what have I become?
7. Get Travel Insurance
My dad can always be counted on to be super upbeat and positive about all of my travel plans.
HAHAHA! Biggest Lie Ever!
Truth be told, when my dad heard that I was traveling to Ecuador, he worried that I might get everything from Dungee Fever to Malaria. I mean, even when I went to Spain he somehow found this story in the newspaper about a girl who was studying abroad there, contracted Meningitis, had to be airlifted home, and was now in a coma.
Thanks, Dad. I feel Way to make me feel LOADS better. He even said they were in millions of dollars of debt because she didn’t have travel insurance.
So even though my dad went about it the wrong way, he was right in reminding me that everyone MUST purchase travel medical insurance.
You never know when a catastrophe will strike and just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean that you are in some sort of magical bubble that makes you totally immune to any and all bad luck.
I wish this magic bubble wrap really did exist.
Therefore, if you get sick, you want to be certain that you will receive proper medical care and that you won’t go into lifelong debt in doing so.
So make your parents and your future self-happy and get the damn travel insurance.
8. Emphasize the Lessons that Travel Will Teach You
In my situation, my parents constantly thought I was on the verge of death, at the hands of some mythical terrorist group in their minds. And it didn’t help that my dad took my Mom to see Taken. Way to go Dad.
When my parents complained about my lack of life experience, I basically wanted to scream at them, “How can I get any life experience if I don’t leave the house?”
Terrible Tactic on My Part and Rather Dramatic.
But in reality, solo travel does teach you how to be more mature (Unless someone says the word penis. Then all bets are off), independent, resilient, and to develop problem-solving skills that will help you succeed in the world at large.
These skills will look damn good on any resume or job/school application that you fill out. Even throw in the word, “self-starter” and you’ll be golden.
We call this an Education in Life that Your Parents Don’t Have to Pay For
Think of travel is a learning opportunity and one really huge, continuing education program.
9. Let Them Be Wrong
Truth Be Told:
I was gonna do what I wanted, no matter what my parents said, especially since they were being totally ridiculous.
And Guess What?
That’s Okay! Parents are humans. They make mistakes and can be totally wrong. So, let them! They don’t have some magic life rulebook that has predictive capabilities.
Like all of us, they are trying to do their best every single day. And well, sometimes their best kind of sucks. But that’s okay because sometimes my best is a bit sucktastic too. Just talk to my dad, he’ll explicitly lay out every single one of my flaws.
In some instances, you’ve just got to accept that your parents are allowed to be wrong and that they can disapprove of you, and your actions, if that’s what floats their boat. Trust me, there is no changing some people, or their opinions, and you can burn yourself out trying to do so.
That’s Why It May Be Best to Just Let Parents Do Their Thing and Have Their Crazy Ideas
This is one of the reasons why I never talk politics with my dad. There is no point. He won’t change me, I won’t change him, and the conversation will just end with both of us getting royally pissed off and hating each other.
10. Remember, It’s Your Life (It’s My Party and I Can Cry if I Want to)
This One is Huge (that and you can always blame me when your parents ask where you got these crazy ideas from)!
You get one life, that’s it. And I know it’s trite, but it’s true. So at the end of the day, only you know what is best for you, not your parents.
I honestly believe that the worst thing you can ever do is live a life full of regret. So don’t live a life for your parents. Trust me, I tried and it didn’t make them, or me, any happier.
I chose to live in Korea. If I had stayed home, then my family and I just would have sat home being pissy and miserable together. And honestly, no one needs that kind of negativity in their life.
Carpe Flipping Diem!
I’ll be the First one to Admit:
I am not a psychologist. I just like to pretend I play one on TV.
LoL. But Seriously:
These are only some suggestions that may help a fellow, traveling solo female out there. But these tips will probably not work for all parents, especially the kind that are miserable and just want you to be miserable too.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt because I am not a trained professional and cannot solve any and all of your problems, like Dr. Phil and Oprah, can (kidding).
Just Remember Though:
Nine times out of ten, people will respond much more favorably to love that to hate. So moral of the story? Don’t be a total dick and your parents MIGHT be a bit more understanding.
*** Please note this Disclaimer: On my blog, I sometimes use affiliate links. I will always tell you and these links are only for items that I use and approve of. If you click an affiliate link and purchase that product or service, I will be paid a small commission but your cost will still; remain the same or less. I will always disclose this at the bottom of the post. This money goes towards keeping this site online. Note: We are a participant in an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. If you found this website helpful, please support it