Want to go alone, but too dangerous.
I’m a senior in college who hopes to travel/backpack the world during recesses (Winter, Spring, and Summer).
My biggest problem is that I have no friends who would be down for really cheap hostels/food, lots of walking, and everything else I have in mind.
So I made a decision—I’d go alone. Unfortunately, my parents said “No way. Too dangerous.”
So my question is what should I do?
The obvious answer was to find a travel program. But I’m deadest against this. The whole point of my trip is freedom. Plus the programs are expensive.
So I came up with a second idea. Use Facebook. Find people from my college who I can meet up with at various points. But my college is small so this is impractical.
If the whole point of your trip is freedom, and you are a college senior, then you need to break loose of your parents first.
Traveling alone is not dangerous. You just have to be aware. My first trip alone was Eurailpass'ing around Europe for the summer just after high school. I met people along the way, as you will.
Of course, if you need your parents' money, that's another matter.
I think your parents can be persuaded if you handle this well.
I make an assumption that your parents do not travel?
Sit down with them and find out specifically what their specific fears are?
Take time to process what they have told you and come back with sound, logical solutions for each.
Find out if there is a country they are particularly worried about you visiting and take it off the list.
Promise to check in via email and skype daily.
Do you have any friends or family who backpacked when they were in college? Having them share their experiences with your parents should help. A university professor or counselor?
You could ask one of your parents to join you on your first week of travel to see what it is like and that you would be safe. A great place to start would be Singapore. It is clean and safe.
I believe you need to share with your parents why this is so important to you and what you hope to gain from it. Find articles on the internet to demonstrate to your parents that many advise this activity to increase confidence and independence.
Approach your parents with adult behavior and sound reasoning.
Bargain with them.
I know you want to go for winter, spring and summer but maybe if you agree to a shorter trip they will agree to let you go. Life is full of compromise.
I'm a single woman who has been traveling alone since 1984, and I've never had a bit of trouble.
Now, don't be stupid: obey the laws of your host country, learn a few words of the local language, keep your eyes open, and be polite. Never accept offers of drugs or female companionship.
It would be helpful to know what your parents are afraid of. Do they think you will get sick, be attacked by wild beasts, or be kidnapped? There are ways to avoid those situations.
Perhaps you could find a a class or seminar in another country that dovetails with your academic and career goals. That way you could suggest to you parents that travel will improve your chances of getting a good job out of college.
I agree with Dave and Merry Jo, Singapore is a nice clean, safe place to start, with loads to see. And, for what it's worth, I've found a number of cities in the US that are far more dangerous than than anyplace I've visited, and that includes Israel and Jordan.
I wish you the best, and I guarantee that you won't regret traveling.
It was actually my problem at first. Before, I was never allowed to go out of the country alone. I'm a Filipino and Asian parents can be really paranoid when it comes to their children. So it was almost always a trip of 14, 15, 16 people with vastly different interests, and there would always be the feeling that you weren't able to accomplish much.
The first step is to let your parents know that you can be responsible. Maybe start traveling solo to local places. That way you get to build your confidence on yourself without going too far out of your comfort zone. Then branch out to places that are a little farther away. Then get them involved. Tell them stories of your trips, the problems you encountered, and how you solved them. Let them read your travel blogs. It not only reaffirms your confidence, it also allows you to establish trust with your parents and lets them know that this is what you enjoy doing.
Also, I agree with Home and Away. Who will be funding for your trip? If you can save enough money to financially support your travel, then it might be easier to convince your parents to allow you to travel. They might cut you some slack if it's not their money you're going to spend.
As for finding a travel buddy, establish ties through social network. I've used Couchsurfing to help me get through my recent trip to Indonesia. Just really get to know the people you're corresponding with.
About travel programs, it's true that many of them offer standard tours that make you feel like part of a herd and do little in letting you delve into the local culture of a place. But there are a number of tour companies that offer one-on-one or small group tours that are cheap, ecologically sustainable and culturally sensitive. A lot of them can be found on the Internet.
Traveling can indeed be daunting at first, but it develops character. Once you've gone through your first trip and experienced the highs and lows of being on the road, it's very rewarding. Good luck!
Tons of good advice here...as a parent I agree with everything said ..as a traveler I say you only get one life, and there has to become a time when it becomes your life not the one your parents imagined for you.
Take it gently. Do a shorter trip to start with and you will earn their respect and admiration at your maturity in going travelling. I also agree its about compromise so talk to them. Drop a destination if it particularly worries them. Have fun and good luck! Go for it.
I can't imagine why a senior in college would need his parents permission to travel as he wishes....unless of course they are providing the funds for the trip. If you are traveling on your own dime then let them know when and where you are going (which is a good precaution in any case), then load up and go.
Parents always worry no matter how old you are. I'm 62 and my mother and sister still worry about me and tell me I am crazy for going off to _____ instead of staying home. That's just the way it is.
If your parents are funding your travels then you will just have to change their mind or give it up till you can fund your travels yourself.
They are partially correct........a person could be killed or injured while traveling, but it's no more dangerous than driving the freeway on a rainy day. The most dangerous part of any trip is the drive to the airport.
I have the same problem! Free flight benefits and no one to share them with. I love to go all over the world but as a 18 year old female no one approves of me traveling alone. If you come up with a solution let me know!
In response to: Msg #175011
I cannot possibly thank you all enough for these responses. No I won't be paying for the whole thing myself. Thanks for all the terrific advice. I will follow it.
I went on a trip without my parents for the first time after my first year of university, I did go with my boyfriend however this was a huge step for my very protective parents. I suggest travelling for a short time to somewhere either more local, or more similar to your home. If you are set on going somewhere exotic I can recommend some amazing guided tours that come with personalized experiences, may make you parents feel more secure. You can contact me for more info if this option interests you.
I have been travelling on my own since I was 17 without any problems. Parents have an uncanny way of making us feel discouraged so they don't have to worry! But you are at the age now where you can go off and explore. So do it! Maybe start in countries that have good reputation and instead of staying in hostels do the couch surf thing so you meet locals willing to show you around or join organized tours until you get the hang of it. Honestly, you will have no regrets! A girl at my work age 20 was terrified to travel alone but took my advice and went off to Greece with no agenda and had the time of her life. Nothing to fear but fear itself.
[Edited: 2013 Sep 21 22:20 - cabochick:5863 ]
Agree with so much of what is above. Start small and somewhere obviously safe - Singapore is a great choice. I found the same with South Korea and Japan. I'm briefly at the Isle of Man in the UK and this also feels very secure (and very friendly).
Regarding keeping contact with your family - even a message on Facebook or email every two-three days should suffice. Doing it very frequently is a real pain. I always used to let my parents known when I've arrived in a new destination, but only contact them again when I'm about to leave again.
Parents will continue to be protective of you regardless of your age, but you just have to stand your ground and show that you are responsible and are going to a much safer destination than can be found in your home country.
My suggestion when choosing a country to travel is this. Only take advice on its safety from people who live there and people who have recently travelled there. Ignore all other advice - especially the media and people who have never been or don't know of anyone who has (which will mean your parents and most others you know). Read government travel advisories only to get a sense of the area, but they will always err on the side of caution, so their advices are generally a tad alarmist.
I travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan this year. If you listen to the media it seems a very bad idea. Speak to people who have travelled there (as I did before I visited) and they will tell you the opposite. Thus after travelling there, my summation is this - the people with personal experience of Iraq and Afghanistan were overwhelmingly more accurate on the safety of these countries when compared to both the media and those people who had never visited either.
You just need to get this first trip out of the way. The second trip will be much easier for you to organise.