What If My Family/Friends Don't Support My Decision to Travel Solo?
Earlier this year, I interviewed 15 female solo travelers from around the world and told their stories in a free PDF download. On the last page, I shared some statistics about the women in this group.
One of the most astonishing was that 76% of them said they didn't have support from their close friends and family for their first solo trip.
Let that sink in. Only a quarter of these women had close family and friends who supported their decision to travel alone for the first time.
Solo travelers are or become very independent individuals. It's simply something that comes with the territory when you embark on an adventure by yourself.
But that doesn't mean it doesn't help to have support from those who matter most to us. When the people you love don't support a dream or goal of yours, it can be extremely difficult to follow through with it.
Solo travel is already a challenge—an experience that will test you, and help you grow and learn about yourself. Worrying about what your loved ones think of it can take the focus off of that objective of fulfillment and growth. It can distract you. It can mean that your enjoyment of the trip suffers—if you go at all.
The good news, of course, is that it can be done, as three quarters of the women I interviewed have proved beautifully. But, as you can imagine, if you can get your loved ones on board, it'll be a better experience for both you and them.
So how can you do it? Your best, most powerful tool for this is communication. 🗣
When you decide you're going to embark on your solo trip, sit down with your family or friends, whoever's closest to you, and tell them the news. Calmly explain the reasons for your decision and invite them to share how they feel and ask questions. During this conversation, make sure to:
Tell them why. Share with them the benefits you'll gain from this trip—confidence, independence, life skills like problem solving, adaptability, time and money management, and dozens more. Highlight what makes you excited about the opportunity, and explain what a great experience it will be for you. Help them understand why you made the decision to go, why this is so important to you.
Have empathy. Enter into the conversation with an open mind and try to understand their point of view. If they're worried or against your decision, it's often because they love you so much and are simply concerned for your safety and wellbeing. So be a good listener! Encourage them to honestly express their concerns, and then discuss them together. Try to stay calm and avoid being argumentative or defensive. Hear them out and acknowledge how they feel.
Share resources. Show them the free download I linked to above about the amazing solo-travel experiences of the 15 women I interviewed, or other solo-traveling women you may know. Demonstrate to them that the fear-mongering news stories about female solo travelers focus on outlier cases, as news stories often do—that they neglect to tell the thousands of other stories where women traveled alone and were perfectly safe. Show them that women like you are out doing this already, sensibly and safely.
Now, whether your family and friends support your decision to travel solo in the end depends on many factors. Some of them are within your control, and communication and education can go a long way. Others are not within your power to change, like cultural norms and traditions, personality types, personal experiences and fears, and others.
It's always worth clearly communicating your plans to your loved ones and doing your best to prepare them for your solo trip. The goal, of course, is always to gain their support.
But if, despite your best efforts, they're still not on board, you need to seek other sources of support. Find just one friend, acquaintance, or coworker who believes in you and supports your plan to try solo travel. And if you can't find anyone in your life to fill this role, I am more than happy to personally do it—as will all the female solo travelers in the SheGoes community. Even if you do have family support, the sisterhood of women who already travel alone will always back you up, too.
The moral of the story: Family and friends are so important—but you can't let their opinions and judgments block you from pursuing your dreams and plans of traveling alone.
Having a support system will make your solo-travel experience even better. If you can't find one in your own circle, rest assured you have one in me, and in the SheGoes community!
Happy communicating and happy travels,
Learn more about preparing your loved ones for your first solo trip
My online course, Solo Travel 101, has an entire lesson devoted specifically to preparing loved ones for your first solo trip. It includes:
An interview with my own mother to discuss her fears before my first solo trip, and how we handled them together
Even more tips for having the conversation with your loved ones
A downloadable worksheet to help you organize it
The course also has lessons on every other solo-travel topic you'll need to know before your first trip, from essential safety tips and advice for dining alone to packing lists and step-by-step plans for dealing with common travel mishaps on your own. Learn more about the course.