How to Discuss Solo Travel with Family

It all began with a tentative “Hey Mom, Dad, I’ve decided I want to visit Switerland, Austria, and Czech Republic…on my own. Cue the reactions:

First Reaction: But what about a terrorist attack?!?

I think to myself—I’m not going to a war zone, I’m going to Switzerland. Bad things can happen anywhere, even in my home state of Florida (maybe even especially in Florida). I could walk outside on any given day and a gator might eat me…or a boa constrictor…or I could be run over by one the many blind centenarians that still have their license…the list goes on.

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Second reaction: But what if you’re tasered in the middle of a busy square by kidnappers, and they pretend that you’re helping you to fool the other tourists, but then they put you in the back of a van and sell you into the sex trade?!?


That was an absurdly unexpected reaction, so obviously I burst out laughing. For future reference, laughing at friends’ or family member’s fears in not the best way to approach even the most unlikely of scenarios.

Sit Down and Talk to Your Family

After the initial (moderately insane) reactions, I sat down and pondered.  I’m an adult (or pretend to be), and I know I don’t need my parents’ blessing.  At the same time, I’m incredibly close with both of them and want them to understand why I’m going and ease their worries. This conversation was not easy the first time and involved some tears on my mother’s part, but I came up with a series of steps to help you pave the way for your solo trip conversation. Follow along for a guide on how to discuss solo travel with family and loved ones.

Understand their Point of View & Explain Yours

Recognize that their worries are coming from a place of love (and also scenes from the movie Taken). I know my family isn’t trying to stand in the way of my travels out of spite, but it can definitely be easy to lash out or try and brush off their concerns. From personal experience, do not brush them off. This makes it worse…and brings on the waterworks!

It also really helped in my conversation to be able to explain the WHY on my trip. Why do I have the urge to travel solo? Come prepared to the discussion with some idea to help your family understand.

Provide a Detailed Plan (with Visuals!)

Instead of a vague “Hey, I’ll be chilling somewhere in Europe for a while,” I gave them an idea of what I was trying to do in each city and showed them pictures online (a photo tour in Vienna, paragliding in Switzerland, etc.) Sometimes imaginations can run wild, and details help get them over that hurdle.

Provide Contact Info

This was probably one of the most important steps to give my family piece of mind. I gave them a list of where I was staying, including addresses, phone numbers, and emails for the hostels. If you book using Hostelworld, you can even show your family pics of where you’ll be staying! I also gave them my train info (if available), and tried to keep them updated once I crossed the pond.

Create a Plan to Stay in Touch

Discuss ahead of time how frequently you expect to be able to contact them. It can be as easy as a quick Whatsapp message/ email every day…I know this was super easy for me, and gave my mom a little comfort. Plus, she loved that I tried to include fun pics of the day!

If you’re planning to travel for a longer period of time, it’s worth it to buy an Unlocked Phone and a SIM Card to stay in touch everywhere…not just on your hotel’s wifi. Another new option that I love is a Mobile WiFi Hotspot …this lets you take the internet with you wherever you go!

Do Your Homework

Before you set off on your adventure, research where the embassy is located, and check Visa requirements. Make sure to look into vaccination suggestions, travel insurance, and common scams that may target tourists.

Talk to your parents about your research, and let them know you’ll take precautions. It helps if they see you’re taking your safety seriously.

Addressing the points above helped me discuss solo travel with family, and I hope it can help you with any difficult conversations.  It’s definitely still a work in progress with my family, so leave suggestions below to help out all of us fellow solo travelers with neurotic, but lovable parents!

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    1. I have a lot of respect for women who travel solo. Your adventures are inspiring. I felt the same way when people asked why we would go to the Philippines or south thailand right now. I was like, I just lived in LA for the past 7 years. Things happen anywhere at any time. My biggest come back is the sad church fire in Charleston. Anyways, you are amazing and keep up the awesome travels!

  1. I like and appreciate that you want to be understanding. As a grown man my mom told me recently “Call me when you get to China…” And I’m like, “really?” I give you props for being understand AND wanting to secure their comfort.

  2. Damn Taken! That film made the world so scared of solo female travel (myself included for a while haa) But yes, I get this all the time. Hard to always try and explain when really your family just want you to be safe

    1. That movie gave me bad dreams for a while…plus before I left, almost every one of my female co-workers mentioned that movie haha. I can understand where family is coming from though.

  3. Ah, my family/friends are so used to me ignoring their concerns now that it’s no longer an issue. Plus, as you say, pretty much everywhere has the same potential for danger, violence, etc, so …

    What my travels have revealed is how little some of my friends/family know & understand about the world though. I travelled to Africa a couple of times during the Ebola outbreak – the first time, granted, I was in Ghana, about 850km away from the infected area (about the same as the distance from Paris to Milan), but the last time I went to Victoria Falls. 7,200km from Liberia by road; a few hundred km *further* than the driving distance from Guinea to my mother’s house – she was closer to the infected zone than I was and yet she was worried about *me* contracting it!

    Most of the time though, my solo trips elicit a mere ‘oh, you’re going to another place we’ve never heard of’ – their main concerns tend to be more about worrying what I’m going to find to do, rather than whether or not I’ll be safe doing them. That said, when I first started globetrotting, my mother was convinced I was going to start a revolution somewhere, and even now I have a couple of friends who are amazed I’ve not been shot, deported, or arrested anywhere yet. This isn’t them being fearful about my safety, it’s more about their expectations knowing what sort of person I am …

    To be fair I do sometimes play up to it -> from Kyrgyzstan I posted a picture of my passport with a visa for Afghanistan stuck in it, with pretty much no other commentary 🙂

  4. Oh this made me smile – pretty much had the same reactions when we first announced our world travel plans – and there were the two of us together. Keeping in touch in those days (the eighties!) was a helluva lot harder too – airmail letters and tapes took weeks to arrive and no internet then, but that actually meant the pressure was off. Now we’re a bit weird as we positively encourage our children to fly far – solo or in groups – and your advice is spot on. I admit I do still need to know they are okay (thank the Gods of Technology for Snapchat) but funnily enough they don’t seem to expect us to do the same when we head off:)

    1. That makes me so happy that you encourage your kids to get out and explore! I definitely understand the need to be kept in the loop though. I always ask my parents to let me know when they arrive somewhere 🙂 I can’t imagine traveling back in the 80s without smart phones and internet, that must have been so different!

  5. I had a similar discussion with my parents when I was in college and decided to study abroad in Senegal (but the reactions were basically just, “AFRICA?!”). That was before smart phones and widespread WiFi, technology has definitely made them more comfortable with me being abroad. 🙂

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