“Mom… I’m going to quit my job and travel the world.” (How to Convince Parents)
The very moment that these words escaped my lips back in 2013, I assure you that my mom had various ghastly visions in her mind that are not limited to scenarios of me ending up as a broke lass, or as a cold lifeless body in a ditch of some foreign place.
That might seem a bit drastic but it’s true — it’s a known fact that parents are the true-blue experts in worrying and… we can’t really blame them for that.
I say this because though I’m not a parent, I still remember the last time that I was in charge of looking after my nephew while we were in the mall and that brief moment when he was out of my sight made me experience a feeling that I would never, ever, want to experience again. It’s surely a nerve-wracking ordeal to be responsible for someone else’s life and safety… so how much more when you have your own child, right? That’s why as early as now, you must understand the ‘natural instinct’ of our parents to protect and worry about us.
I come from a family that’s arguably traditional so they are fiercely set on the normal flow of life: study, graduate, work in a good company, marry, have kids and then retire.
In fact, the whole of my country (the Philippines) has a very traditional culture so it was a huge shock when my parents found out that they had a non-conventional child who did not only want to quit a secure corporate job but also wanted to travel the world like a nomad. (They thought I was crazy. Naturally.)
So if you were in the same boat as I was before, I can imagine how anxious you might be right now as you try to gauge a way on how to convince your parents to let you travel the world. (A lot of you have actually been messaging me about this topic).
It might be easy to do this if your parents were solo travelers themselves in the past, or are a bit more radical toward this idea. Still and the same, the fact remains that they will always have some concerns that you need to answer to.
Fortunately, parental concerns are somewhat universal after all, and with the right preparation AND with the help of this post, you should be able to quell their worries and eventually make them more accepting of your decision. Besides… if I had managed to make my ‘strict’ parents let me go, then for sure, YOU could too!
How to Convince Parents to Let You Go
» What to Do
I bet that at one point in your life you did a business presentation for work or a thesis defense for school. Well, guess what… that knowledge and experience can be put into good use on how to convince parents to let you travel the world!
Why? Because there’s a need for you to send them the message that you are serious about this, that you are well-prepared, that this is what you want, and that you have planned out everything from start to finish. You certainly wouldn’t want them to think that you’re doing this on a whim (well, I hope to goodness you’re not!).
So yes ladies and gents, prepare a PowerPoint presentation if you have to, print all the information that you have researched, etc.
It might seem weird to do such a formal prep with your parents but without a doubt, in this way, they will be surprised at how earnest you are, which will send them into thinking that you really mean what you’re about to discuss with them. At the same time, this preparation is beneficial for you too, so that you can meticulously cover the A to Zs of your plans together with the two people that care for you the most.
Tips for the Discussion
» UNDERSTAND YOUR PARENT’S POINT OF VIEW & UPBRINGING. Naturally, there is a generation gap between us and our parents; what seems normal or acceptable for us is most likely something that is crazy in their perception. So it’s important that you put yourself in their shoes to better navigate yourself through the discussion you’re going to have with them. That being said, expect them to freak the f*ck out about you’re doing because in doing so, you can find those holes or gaps in their judgment that you can rebuke in order to assure them.
» FIND THE PERFECT TIMING. You know your parents’ habits and mannerisms best so use that to your advantage. For example, if you know that your dad is too busy for anything during the weekdays and that your mom is never in a good mood during the mornings, then of course you should avoid those time frames. Pick a day and period that’s best for your folks, and also try to inform them beforehand that you are planning to talk about an important matter to both of them. But of course, don’t talk about this topic a week before you leave for your trip! If possible, inform them months or even a year in advance. When you have everything sorted out, that’s the time that you can launch your grand overall presentation.
» BUILD TRUST AND MOMENTUM. Have you been on trips lately where you got trashed or have put yourself in harm’s way? If your answer is a big fat ‘yes‘ to this question, it might be a good idea to let some time pass — yes even weeks if you have to — until you regain enough trust from your parents again. Also, if you have never traveled by yourself before, I advise that you try to arrange solo trips to nearby places first in order to slowly ease your parents into the idea that you can travel alone (AND to also ease yourself into this experience as well).
» BE THOROUGHLY PREPARED. This goes without saying, but I just want to stress this well enough. This is not only for your parents but for YOU too. Rest assured, I will be discussing below the various factors that you need to confer with your folks, and naturally, you need to do all the research and groundwork in advance so that you could find out the things that you need to do and know as early as now. (For instance, you need to think about how you will save money for your trip, etc.)
» STAY CALM. As their child/children, we have the tendency to whine when our parents object to something — yes, no matter how ‘grown up’ we are, this phenomenon can’t be helped at times. (Admit it — yes, no?) Hence, if during your dialogue, your parents suddenly or continuously interrupt you about something, please refrain from getting too emotional. If they swiftly start saying ‘no’, calmly ask for the chance to finish what you’re saying or to ask what their concern is. Again, take note: treat this as if it’s a business presentation or a thesis defense! You wouldn’t whine or shout to your boss or professor now, would you? Therefore, it’s clearly important to use logic here in order to present yourself as reasonable and mature because these are exactly some of the many characteristics that your parents would want to see from you.
» SET THE TONE. All things considered, I am now introducing you to a vital aspect of this article on how to convince parents to let you travel the world: don’t ask for their permission. We are trying to make a point here that you are mature and capable enough to do this trip — that it’s what you truly desire and what you have duly prepared for. So surely, the act of ‘asking for permission’ is not a part of this equation since that will paint you in a whole different light.
Remember: you’re not a child anymore.
So try and make it sound like you ARE going at all costs, and that you are doing this conversation with them simply because you want them to know everything about what you’re planning to do and why you’re doing it because you respect them.
With this, you will immediately set the situation into a matter of seriousness — but indeed, take this approach with a grain of salt as dependent on your parents’ characteristics; though I still recommend that you take this approach.
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» What to Discuss
How Long & Why
To travel the world for a year (like a gap year or a studying abroad stint) as you desire to experience various cultures and different places could be a reason that’s met with more warmth by your parents… as compared to traveling the world indefinitely as you firmly decide to quit your job and work on the road.
How to convince parents to accept this length of time? Depending on what your reason might be and how long you plan to do this trip of a lifetime, you need to tell your parents ALL about it. May it be because it’s your dream or your need to explore the globe (for a short while or for a long period), just be open to them about it so that they can fully understand why you’re suddenly jumping into this decision.
How you Will Afford to Travel
It’s always best to show your parents that you are doing this trip with your own money and resources since it is a way to show them that you can absolutely take care of yourself (and also a way to prove to yourself that you CAN).
If you plan to save up a big fund in advance for your trip without the need to work while on the road, it’s better to earn or have that money first so that by the time that you do this discussion with your mom and dad, they can see that you already have your personal finances sorted out.
Otherwise, if you plan to work remotely as you go around the globe, tell them about the means of how you will achieve it. Or if you have already grabbed a remote job that can support your traveling lifestyle (like being a digital nomad for example) explain that to them as well.
If you ever need ideas on the various jobs that you can earn from as you travel the world, come read my article below:
The Logistics: Routes, Accommodations, Activities, etc.
Be as detailed as possible about the flow of your travel. Disclose the mode of transportation that you’ll be doing, the hotels or hostels that you’ll be staying in, the adventures that you’ll be taking — everything! And based on your parents’ personality, focus on the things that you think they would be most concerned about.
Example: If they’re the kind of folks that are concerned about hygiene when it comes to staying in hostels, make sure that you book yourself into a good one and then proceed to assure them that there are hostels that have prime and clean facilities with a laundry room and a kitchen. Give them a virtual tour of the hostel if you must with the use of photos from their website or from their guests.
Another example is that if you’re planning on partaking in adrenaline-packed activities, don’t you dare hide it since that will jeopardize the trust that your parents have in you (I say this because if they know you as a person who likes extreme activities, they’ll find it fishy if you wouldn’t discuss any plans that are related to that; most especially when you’re going to a destination that would obviously involve some intense activities).
But then again, this is a case-by-case basis depending on your parents’ nature. Besides, when I planned to do paragliding, I didn’t tell my mom at all; but that’s not because she wouldn’t allow it but because she will probably be on edge — in an agonizing way. So I only told her afterward and said with a triumphant tone, “Look, mom, I did it and I’m still in one piece!“
But notwithstanding, a golden rule on how to convince parents is to be honest.
If you ever need help in planning your itineraries, plans, and accommodations, you can check out my posts below:
NOTE: Try to involve your parents in this decision-making process so that there is an added assurance that can be instilled in them.
Emphasize Your Safety & Health
This is probably the #1 worry of our parents — wait, who am I kidding… it IS the #1 worry.
As such, it’s an important task for you to make them see that travel isn’t as dangerous as what the media has painted it to be, and that you are well aware of everything that needs to be taken accounted for. To do this, some of the things that you can do are as listed below…
- Show them the various blogs of wanderers who are traveling the world in one piece. But don’t tell them horror stories, of course. Pick your examples with care. Naturally, try to avoid showing them the bloggers who have gone through airplane crashes or ghastly experiences if possible because that’s just asking for trouble.
- Talk about the things that you will be thoughtfully doing in case you’ll be passing by a country that is deemed to be unsafe — or better yet, clear out any misconceptions that they may have about your destinations.
- Display statistical data if you have to, especially if your parents are more objective.
- Assure them that you will take all precautions to stay safe and that you will proactively make ways to keep yourself from danger.
- Examples of such actions are not limited to: asking locals and travelers for advice, checking the news, etc.
- If you can even provide examples of how you have managed to steer clear of trouble in the past, feel free to use those to your advantage in order to show them even more that you can and will look after yourself — besides, you wouldn’t want to ruin your own trip so you will do anything in your power to remain in good shape.
- Show them apps like Zenly or Life360 that allow them to track your location. These apps also have an amazing feature of sending an emergency dispatch or silent alert should you ever need any help.
- Clarify how you will get travel insurance and vaccinations before your trip. (This is very important for you!) Show them that you will prepare a first aid kit, and afterward, feel free to ask for their advice and suggestions to strengthen even more the idea that you are taking this matter seriously.
How you Won’t Actually be ‘Alone’
The idea that you will be off by yourself also sets off alarm bells in your parents’ minds — this might be a personal worry of yours as well. Of course, if you’re going to travel with someone or with friends, this definitely becomes an easier topic to explore; but my guess is that a majority of you are planning to do this solo.
Fortunately, it’s an easy topic to defend on how to convince parents because there are TONS of ways to meet and be with people while traveling. To list this out, talk about how you can meet various individuals from:
- Your own circle (friends or relatives who are living abroad)
- Couchsurfing* (explain to them this concept very well; the testimonials for every user should convince them that you will be scrutinizing everyone that you’ll be meeting)
- Concerts, festivals, etc.
- Online communities* (like us, the travel bloggers! We are social butterflies so feel free to contact us if we’re in the same area)
- The country itself (e.g. locals)
*You can always give them the added guarantee that you do have the common sense of never meeting a new person by yourself in a secluded place since you will make sure to join group events or meet them in a crowded area.
How you Will Keep in Touch
Your parents would absolutely want to be in touch with you at all times so set a schedule as early as now. Sure, it’s can be hard to be connected all the time, so it’s imperative that you explain to them the reality that there will be times that you’re going to be too busy on the road, or that there won’t be any internet connection or mobile service in some of the places that you’ll be setting off to.
Still and all, let them know that you will ensure to get in touch with them as soon as you can if those situations ever happen. Therefore if your parents are not tech-savvy at all, tell them how you can connect through applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc., and proceed to teach them how to set it up and how to use it.
Of course, if you’re going on a longer or indefinite trip, let them know that you can always come back home to see them!
On how to convince parents, it’s essential to display to them that you have thought of your future extensively as you came up with this life-changing decision of traveling the world.
Accordingly, if you’re planning on traveling short-term, lay out a plan on what you would do when you return. Show them how traveling won’t hurt your chances of attaining a career, for example —because the fact of the matter is, it won’t.
Studies have said so, and my HR friends have even supported the fact that a resume stands out from the rest if they can see how a certain person is well-traveled; more so if that person has made it possible to travel on their own. Besides, if you involve yourself in various stints like teaching English abroad or learning a new language (as well as other types of skills) explain to your parents that this could help you gear up for your future even more.
On the contrary, if you’re planning on making travel a long-term deal as I did, it’s important for you to secure a sustainable travel lifestyle. Always think long term — a recurring piece of advice that I always try to emphasize in all of my posts here on this blog, and I hope you could see how this is such a vital thing to consider when deciding to travel the world for a long time.
Therefore, you should plan beforehand to achieve a remote profession that could sustain your lifestyle for years to come. For my case, I spelled out to my mom how I snagged an online job after I quit my corporate job and how I plan to find a way to launch my own business in order to secure my future even more — which did happen along the way as I was traveling!
Other professions that you can try to explore as dependent on your skill set are: travel blogging, teaching English abroad, etc. For more ideas:
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» After the Discussion
It would be great if your parents would approve right away, yes? But there’s definitely a chance that they would need some time to think things over; or if worse comes to worst, they would say no…
If they answered this way, don’t pressure them. Give them the time they need to think it over but at the same time, ask for their feedback — like what other things are making them worry, etc.
Important on how to convince parents: make them know and feel that you are NOT ignoring their opinions and concerns.
Once you acquire their sentiments, ask for their involvement — so that all of you can make the plans together to reinforce the overall consistency and safety of your future travels. On top of everything, this would surely give them more confidence, not only in you but in your plans overall.
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A parent is a tough nut to crack, but they mean well.
As long as you show that you are earnest and that this is something that you really want to do and that would make you happy… I don’t think they will be heartless enough to NOT let you go.
It should be apparent by now that what we are trying to achieve here are their trust and faith and if you can’t get that from them, then I think that there are more things that you need to discuss with your parents other than this topic of traveling by yourself…
Now, I don’t want you to upset your parents, that’s why I made this post to gain their approval first and foremost. But if they’re really set on a ‘no’… would that really stop you…?
I don’t think so because you are doing this for yourself and you have set your eyes on this goal …Truth be told, there were actually several trips that my parents have never approved of, but I still bought that ticket nonetheless!
It can’t be helped that there was a rough patch at first, but it was only brief since my parents became more accepting. They have even eventually transitioned into my #1 cheerleaders for all of my traveling plans as they have come to terms with wholly believing in me and my dreams. (It became easier when I constantly showed them that I could really take care of myself and make all of my plans a reality.)
On the other hand, if you did gain their approval, that’s great! Make sure that you keep your promises, okay? As time passes by, maybe you could also invite them to where you are so that you can demonstrate to them how independent and responsible you have truly become.
Good luck, and I wish you all the best!