Put your loved ones at ease about your travel plans

Credit: Flickr user Jaap Joris

Credit: Flickr user Jaap Joris

It’s an ongoing battle getting your loved ones to understand that you’re just fine wherever you’re choosing to go. Especially for those of us whose parents didn’t backpack in their twenties and thus do not have the firsthand knowledge to know that the world isn’t as scary as the six o’clock news would have them believe.

When I told my friends about backpacking in Europe the first time I went they were shocked. Was I crazy!? Didn’t I know how dangerous Europe was and hostels, well… they’re full of thieves, drug addicts, sex addicts and other assorted crazy people with antisocial tendencies. They’re just like homeless shelters, aren’t they!? They had no idea and were scared for me needlessly.

When I told my grandmother about how I wanted to visit Latin America she kept an eye out for news of bad things happening there: there were abductions in Rio De Janeiro, abductions in Mexico and god only knows where else. I looked up the numbers myself and went over them with her, taking care to explain how abduction happens everywhere. Ever heard of a custody battle? Plenty of those end in one parent taking the child without a courts permission, hence it’s legally abduction. This is added to the crime statistics yet often other abductions are not, it’s an under-reported crime. Regardless of what was happening to the odd unlucky person, worrying myself about something that has not happened was not going to serve me one little bit and wasn’t going to help my loved ones either.

After years of travel and a variety of reactions from loved ones, I’ve learned the best thing I can do is listen to what they say then go away and do my own research. When I am ready I go back to the person, explain that although their fears are very common (as they normally are, we’re all told the same fear myths about the world) the chances of myself being the victim of whatever crime are 1000:1 (for example) as it doesn’t happen as often as the news makes out and that if thousands of people can travel to that area and not have a problem, I probably can too. Even if I am so unlucky to have any of these things happen to me, I have good life skills and can deal with whatever life throws my way. I’ve lived in this dangerous world for so many years now and these problems are just as likely to crop up at home.

In summary:

  • Don’t dismiss their fears, listen to them and treat them with respect, this is someone you care about showing concern for your safety after all.
  • Do some research and come back to them with hard figures, yes crime stats are not perfect but numbers will engage the logical part of the brain rather than the emotive part and thus will make it easier for you to get your point across.
  • Point out that these things happen everywhere all the time and there are actual people just like you living in these areas and thousands travelling every day so your likelihood of becoming a victim if you are savvy is low.
  • Explain that you are savvy. It’s a good idea to bring up your quick wits, safety knowledge and self-defence training (although, this shouldn’t be the first thing you bring up). It’s important to point out that you can handle it and they have no need to worry.
  • Thank them for their concerns even though they have no need to worry and let them know you’ve had a good hard think and have decided not to let their fears dictate your life choices (do this politely again, they were showing they cared about you).

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where someone was stressing about your travels? How did you handle it?

3 thoughts on “Put your loved ones at ease about your travel plans

  1. Great post! It is a neverending battle for me with my family about the fears. They live in the United States and they tell me places like Serbia and Turkey Are dangerous, when I press them on how they are dangerous, the have no clue, they just “heard something on television”. I agree you have to listen to them and make them feel heard, but you do also have to call a spade a spade sometimes too.

    • I’m sorry to hear you’re having such a difficult time with it.

      I was having lunch with an American couple I met when I was in Vietnam and telling them how I chose to study in Canada over the USA because I was scared of university shootings and they just looked at me, wide eyed. They were confused for a good while about why forigners think of guns when they think of America.

      I had a great time visiting America and think her people are all wonderful, don’t get me wrong. You’re right though, it can be a scary place just as Turkey can be, it just doesn’t feel that way if you grew up there and know the place whereas places like Turkey are scary, forign and unknown to you.

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