How to Deal with Travel-Wary Parents

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So you've decided that you want to travel. Maybe on your own. Perhaps around the world. And now you have to break the news to your parents.

Some parents will be supportive of your plans to travel. They'll be proud that you want to see the world, and be excited for you. Others, however, will react differently.

Parents can be protective of their little boys and girls, even after those children have grown into adults. It's normal; expected, even. So how to deal with these travel-wary parents? Well here are a few tips to get you started.

How to Deal with Parents Who are Afraid for You to Travel Solo

1. Do your homework

Especially if you think Mom and Dad may have some reservations about you hitting the road solo, be sure to do your homework before broaching the subject with them. Read up thoroughly on where you want to go – how much it will cost, the culture and customs, how you'll get around, if there are any safety concerns to consider – so that you know as much as there is to know about your destination. Also find out how you'll be able to keep in touch with people back home in order to let them know you're safe.

If you prove to your parents that you've done your research and can answer their questions about your travels, they'll be much more likely to be supportive. (Not to mention that doing this sort of research will make you far more prepared to travel solo, and therefore much safer.)

Amanda and Dad in South Africa

2. Don’t throw a tantrum

If they aren't supportive even after you prove to them how much planning and research you've done, the worst thing you can do is throw a tantrum. If you're trying to prove to your parents that you are mature enough to tackle the world on your own, the very worst thing you can do is break down like a bratty teenager who just got grounded for trying to sneak out of the house.

3. Listen to their concerns

Instead of pouting and locking yourself in your room if your parents are against your desire to travel, try listening to their concerns instead. Try to understand where they're coming from. It may be difficult, but your parents will probably have some valid concerns. And, if you've done your homework, perhaps you'll be armed with some valid ways to reassure them about your plans.

4. Don’t ask them for money

If Mom and Dad are skeptical about your travel, it's probably not a good idea to ask them to fund it. If this is a big enough adventure that you're going on, you've probably been thinking about it and planning it for a while. And hopefully saving up money. By proving that you are serious about this trip (i.e. paying for it out of your own pocket), you are also highlighting your ability to budget and, therefore, hopefully your maturity.

5. Compromise

If, after talking it over with your parents and addressing their concerns, they still are against your solo travel, why not consider a compromise? Perhaps instead of going to India alone you could go on a guided group tour. Maybe you could recruit a travel buddy. Could you pick a beginning destination that doesn't freak them out so much?

This tip could be the most difficult to tackle. There's a fine line between compromise and sacrificing your personal travel ideals and goals. If your heart is set on India and your parents would feel better with you visiting Ireland, compromising may prove impossible. But, again, if you show your parents that you are capable of listening and considering a compromise in your plans, they may lighten up a bit.

6. Invite one of them along

This tip probably sounds horrible. But it could work. I'm not saying invite Mom on your round-the-world trip with you. But, if Mom is terrified of the thought of you traveling on your own, why not invite her to come with you on a shorter trip? A test run, so to speak, where you can prove to her that you are capable of taking care of yourself on the road. You remember the old writing rule, “show, don't tell”? Well it can apply in real life, too.

Me and mom at Strawberry Field in Liverpool

Obviously, if you've moved out of your parents' house and aren't dependent upon them financially anymore, this may not even be an issue for you. If you're an “I-do-what-I-want” type of person, you may not even care if your parents object to your travel plans. But, for the most part, I feel like we travelers like to have the support of our loved ones in any monumental endeavor that we undertake. And travel – especially solo travel – can be pretty monumental.

Hopefully your parents will support your travel dreams. But, if they don't, maybe these tips can help you change their minds.

Have your parents ever been wary of your travel plans? If so, how did you placate their fears?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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25 Comments on “How to Deal with Travel-Wary Parents

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  1. I’m 18 and I want to travel to see a friend that lives in NZ with my own money, but I’m SO scared to tell my dad! My mom said she doesn’t think it’s wise but that she wouldn’t be angry if I went, but I know my dad will be a different story…He gets scared about me just going out with my friends or driving when it’s been snowing, so I can’t even imagine what his reaction will be.

      Before you tell him, I would make sure to do your homework and be able to respond to any fears he might have. Know how much the trip would cost, how you would get there, and the logistics of your travel first. And you can point out that New Zealand is a very safe and peaceful country!

    My mum is terrified of travelling herself so bringing her with me wouldn’t work!

      Well maybe you could help show her that it doesn’t have to be scary! 🙂

    Really helpful article. I am planning on going on my first ever solo trip to Thailand and my parents are freaking out as they realized i am actually going to go. With the valid concerns like safety and reputation of Thailand as prostitution hub, they are very much worried. I dont want to push them too much but i want them to allow me to go, but being an alone girl they are just freaking out. i dont know how to satisfy them considering all their concerns are pretty much valid but i do want to travel alone and Thailand is the cheapest i could afford. :-/

      Well, to be honest, the prostitution your parents are worried about isn’t something you’re likely to encounter since the sex trade in Thailand is mostly focused at foreign MEN. Also, this is only prevalent in certain parts of Thailand (like certain neighborhoods in Bangkok). Thailand is actually very safe for tourists! I hope you can talk with them and reassure them that they don’t need to be so worried!

    I told my parents I was going to India for Holi and explained why and they were supportive overall..but not to me going by myself (no tours when I could go, and no friends who can go at the same time). After talking we compromised on me taking a more expensive package with them paying for 1/2 of the difference between the trains-no-guides plan and the driver-guides plan.

      That sounds like a pretty good compromise – hopefully you enjoyed the trip?

    Loved this post. This isn’t a problem I had with my parents, but I do know it’s a battle for some people. Is it ok for me to use this as a guest post on my blog sometime in the future? I’d give credit and link back to this site.

      It’s definitely a battle for a lot of people, I think.

      I’d really rather you not copy and paste the whole post on your site, but if you want to take out some highlights and add in some of your own commentary, that would be fine by me. 🙂

    My parents encourage me to travel but for short periods of time! They’re scared I might not come back! 😉

      Haha, understandable! I think my parents have similar fears about me sometimes!

    I always tell my family my dreams of traveling, and they don’t want me to go live anywhere or go somewhere potentially dangerous. But me and my boyfriend want to work in australia then go traveling a bit, for maybe 6 months or longer… we’d prob have to quit our jobs, unless my job might be understanding as i’ve been there awhile. I just think our family will be mad at us for quitting our jobs, and leaving for so long, my family is especially , they are worry warts! worry about us traveling so far away, and worry about if we can get a job. I just don’t know what to tell them so they don’t worry so much.

      Hey Michayla, thanks for stopping by! Perhaps you can use some of the tips in this post to talk to your parents about wanting to travel.

      As far as going somewhere “potentially dangerous,” well, Australia certainly isn’t scary or anything. And, really, how much more dangerous is any place compared to where you live now? I live in the U.S., which is far more dangerous than many of the countries I would like to visit!

      My advice to you would be to sit down with your parents – maybe even with your boyfriend if you plan to travel together – and just tell them why you think going abroad is important. Assure them that you’ll be safe, and maybe discuss with them some ways that you all can keep in touch while you’re gone. With advanced technology today, it’s a lot easier than you might think!

      If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail. 🙂

    Ugh, I haven’t even told my parents that my husband and I are planning to quit our jobs to go gallivanting to see the world next year. When I told them we have a big announcement to tell them this December… I’m afraid they’re thinking we’re going to tell them we’re pregnant…


      Oh dear. Well, good luck with telling them! Hopefully they’ll understand.

    Great advices! My parents don’t really understand why I want to travel, but doing it on my own money definitely easied the things.

      I think parents have a lot less reason to complain if you’re paying for your travel out of your own pocket. I’m glad you liked to advice!

    Great post Amanda. Parents are often over-looked in all of this, especially as a discussion topic. My parents have always supported my travelling, although whenever I speak to them they do drop in a few lines like “So, when are you going to settle down?” I guess we’ll never win, huh!

    Similarly, I believe there’s never been a better time for parents to join in on their kids’ travel experiences. I recently covered it in a post called Tips for Travelling with Parents which your readers might find useful.

      Thanks, Ant. And I’m glad that you agree that traveling with your parents can be a great thing. Thanks for sharing that link! Definitely a good read.

    Not really an issue for me as I traveled a lot as a kid and my parents encouraged us to move and travel far away so they have an excuse to visit a new (or return to an old!) place.

    But I don’t think my parents really believed that I was going to NZ until I bought my plane ticket. Gave them to come and visit to a place they didn’t really know anything about before and had a fantastic time that they still talk about!

      It’s great that your parents have always been supportive of your travels! Mine have been okay for the most part, though they refused to let me go to NZ on my own when I was 18 after my friend backed out of the trip (hence why my mom went with me). But traveling with my mom turned out to be awesome. I’d definitely do it again.

    I wish I’d had these tips years ago…can’t tell you how many travel-related arguments I had with the Parents when I was younger… they still try, but I went and moved across the country so it’s easier now 🙂

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