HOW TO CONVINCE YOUR PARENTS IT’S OK TO GO BACKPACKING

A lot of parents don’t want you to go because of safety issues, or have a lot of worries about what it’s doing for your future. And other parents are really supportive.

I always find it a little sad when I hear parents have stopped their children doing something they really want to do. I think they should be supportive, especially when it’s not like you’re telling them you’re some huge drug dealer, or a hooker! I think telling your children not to do something, is possibly the worst thing you can do as a parent. Because from my own experience, it makes the children want to do it even more, and even resent their parents a little for not letting them do it in the first place.

Now I was lucky. My parents were supportive, and although I think sometimes they’d sooner me be at home, where they know I’m safe, they’ve never told me I couldn’t go, or asked me to rethink my plans. They know I know what I want, and they know I’m not completely clueless and stupid, and have a good idea of what I’m doing.

A question I’ve been asked a lot recently is how to convince your parents it’s a good idea. Luckily I never had to convince mine, but if I had to, I would definitely recommend saying the following:

If you’re old enough to own your own house, and start a family, you’re old enough to go backpacking alone.
Sometimes parents just need to be reminded that you’re not that little kid anymore. Yes it’s hard for them as you’re moving onto the next chapter in your life, and they probably feel almost a little unwanted. Just because you’re doing this alone, it doesn’t mean mentally you need to do it alone. A strong, supportive network of friends and family means everything!

It looks great on your CV
Now when I first read this before I even started travelling, I thought it was a complete myth, and just an excuse people used so their parents let them go travelling. It’s actually true. It shows you’re able to adapt to different cultures, and you’re more than willing to go out of your comfort zone. The list of skills it brings to your CV, is huge. Saying you’ve lived at home with your parents for the last 5 years, doesn’t look so great.

It’ll make you a better person
It’s so cliche for people to come back from travelling and say it’s changed them, and they’ve found the real them. But travelling does make you a better person, even if you don’t realise it. Personally for me, it made me more sociable around people I didn’t know. Before I went travelling, I was quite shy and used to get really uncomfortable if somebody spoke to me that I didn’t know. This all seemed to have changed when I came back from travelling. It also made me more open minded, and less judgemental. You become more respectful of other peoples beliefs and cultures. Your parents can’t think that’s a bad thing, surely?

Independence
Without putting a downer on things, your parents aren’t going to be around for the rest of your life. They’re going to leave you at some point, whether you like it or not. And if they’ve wrapped you in cotton wool your whole life, you’re going to find it pretty tough to live without them. Independence is a skill you need to learn from a young age. They aren’t doing you any favours by not letting you have it. There’s nothing more independent than living or travelling in a foreign country, by yourself.

You need to learn from your own mistakes
There’s an old saying that says “you’ll only learn from a mistake, if you make the mistake yourself.” It’s no good your parents telling you, you can’t do something or something will be a mistake. You need to go out there and actually make it. A parents job is to protect their children, but they also need to realise that their children need to learn themselves, and the only way to do that is by doing. It goes back to the previous point of them not doing you any favours by wrapping you in a cotton wool your whole life. You’ve got to learn someday.

Because why should you join the rat race?
There’s no right or wrong in life. You don’t need to do set things, by set ages. Why shouldn’t you go out there and see the world? Who wants to be a in a 9-5 job during their prime of their life? No one. Even your parents. Go out there, live life, and make stories you’ll be telling for a lifetime.

Safety
A parents biggest concern is safety. I’d be lying if I said the whole world is safe for a solo female backpacker, because it isn’t, and you know it isn’t. In some places, it isn’t even safe for a solo male backpacker. If you’re serious about travelling, be serious about your safety. Don’t just put your finger on a map and say “I’m going there!” Also don’t just go somewhere because you’ve seen your mate do it on instagram, and they came back alright. Do some proper research, looks at the do’s and don’ts in countries, look at their culture, their beliefs. Show your parents you’re actually serious about your safety, which you should be anyway, and they’ll start taking you seriously. It is more than likely you will be put into some sticky situations, but it’s showing how you can deal with them, and that you don’t need your parents to hold your hand every time. Don’t make out nothing bad will happen to you, because that is one way to convince your parents it isn’t safe to let you do it alone.

At the end of the day, your parents shouldn’t be telling you in your early twenties, that you can and can’t do something. They won’t be happy with it, but they should support you either way. The shouldn’t try to talk you out of going, or scare you into not going. If you’re serious about backpacking, do it while you have the opportunity. A few months down the road, your parents will realise they worried for no reason.

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