I hear it all the time, I want to travel, but I can’t leave my family and friends.
I totally understand. There are only two reasons why this is a problem. You really don’t want to travel, or you are using your family and friends as an excuse.
Some people don’t want to travel, which is fine. We have to live what is in our hearts. But, because you are reading this, let’s run with the second scenario.
What you are really afraid of is leaving the comforts of what you know. We love our friends and family and enjoy their company, which is what makes leaving them hard, but if you have a burning desire, you’ll do it regardless.
The real reason you aren’t is that you are afraid of who you are when you are not attached to these people.
Quite often, we define who we are by the people we surround ourselves with. Once they’re gone, we can feel lost as to how to think, plan, dream, and be.
Leaving the known for the unknown is terrifying, BUT thousands of people have done it before you, survived AND created the life they really love. There is no greater gift you can give to yourself, hence other people.
Craig and I are like everybody else.
We have family and friends who we love and adore. But, we also have our own burning dreams, that are more important. I say this, not to downplay the value of your relationships, but to highlight if you do not live a life that completely fulfills you, you will not be happy, and as a result cracks will appear in your relationships.
Who are you living for?
You can’t live your life based upon other people’s needs. That’s a one-way street to the land of regret and bitter disappointment.
In 20 years time, you’ll resent those who held you back. We love our family and friends, yet we have to follow our hearts, or the cracks will appear in, not just our relationships to those we love, but to ourselves.
Family will always remain constant. You’ll have ups and downs, which is normal, but no matter what you do with your life they’ll always be there.
Your friends will come and go. There will be those who, just like your family, will remain constant, no matter what you choose to do. Whether you stay at home, or travel, your life path will change as will the friendships that come with it.
What happens if you choose to remain near your friends, and in 5 years time, your best friend finds the love of her life, moves to another country and is deliriously happy. Where are you then?
Welcome to the land of bitterness, regret, and resentment.
What you are most afraid of is being alone. Not recognizing who you are anymore and having to start all over again. This can be scary, or it can be liberating, depending on your perspective.
Let’s get one thing straight. You’ve formed friendships before right? You’ve been doing it since the days building towers in the sandpit at the local playground.
You’re also a person that many people would love to chat too. You’re interesting and have so much to offer. (Please don’t tell me this is not true)
Travel has this amazing ability to give you the freedom to be who you want. You form friendships with people purely based on who you are at the moment. You are free to allow it to be a pass-on-by-friendship, or make an effort to create something a little more life-long. You don’t have to be friends with someone just because you played in the sandpit together when you were 3.
Let me share with you my truth.
Before I started travelling, I was very insecure, shy, and had low self-esteem. I was frightened of people as I never knew how to engage in conversation. Travel helped me become more comfortable with myself and talking to strangers. Now I love meeting new people (and I still adore my home-town friends).
You might also be fortunate to travel with your friends. I’ve had many experiences traveling with my friends overseas and we have the most wonderful memories and have stronger friendships as a result.
But they tell me how stupid I am
Of course. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do people will comment. It’s because either:
a) They think their way is the best way to live and simply take it personal when others choose something different.
b) They hate seeing you do the thing they really want to do. It’s like your shining a torch on their fear and so they feel smaller because they have given in to it. NEVER dim your light because other people don’t like it. Shining your light gives permission for others to do the same. Shine or not shine? Which one helps the planet more?
c) They are just worried for you.
d) They are afraid of what you leaving means to your relationship with them.
If you know why you want to travel, you understand the pros and cons, have a plan for them, and are happy to step out into the unknown to live your dreams, it should not matter what anyone else thinks.
I know it is hard hearing negative comments from those you love the most. Know the reasons they are doing it, keep your head held high, and say, “Thank you. I appreciate your input, but this is my dream. I have researched and planned and I know what I am doing. Thank you for caring about me, but I have it under control.”
But they are my parents, I can’t leave them, it will break their hearts.
Yes you can.
You were born to live your life. You owe it to your parents to make it a full and happy one. They wouldn’t want any less for you, even though it might seem like that at times. Of course you’ll miss them, and they you, but you can’t let this stop you from living your dream.
Now that I am a mother, I understand how hard it would be to be separated from your children. I want Kalyra and Savannah to be by my side forever because I love them so much. I don’t feel complete without them, but it is not THEIR job to make me feel complete. It’s mine.
Their existence is not as a means to satisfy my wants and desires. I gave life to them and I expect them both to live it in the way they choose, which will make them the most fulfilled and happy. (If they don’t I’ll be mad, because I went through a lot of child-birthing pain to give them that right to be happy and fulfil their own purpose).
All a parent wants is to know their child is happy and safe. Until you have children you will never understand the worry a parent has for their child. It’s endless.
I often wake at night in a panic because I am worried about the girls getting too close to the edge of the river in the Northern Territory and being eaten by a croc. WTF? Do you have any idea how unreasonable and ridiculous this is? We didn’t even have any plans to go to the NT before I was worried about this and creating plans to protect them from it.
I completely freak out if they go near the edge of a balcony that has a 5 foot brick wall, steel-reinforced protective barrier.
Can you see why your parents are seeing the world as unsafe? They will whether you are travelling, or if you are at home. You might as well follow your heart so you can ease that part of them that wants YOU to be happy.
If it seems like your parents are more concerned with what makes them happy, the truth is they are afraid of where they will fit into your new life. They are afraid of change and how it might affect your relationship. It’s a reasonable fear so be compassionate. You have been the centre of their world from the moment you have been conceived. Every decision they made was to keep you safe and to foster your growth; they love you to a depth that can never be explained.
Every parent wants their child by their side forever, but there comes a time when they gotta let you fly. Help your parents out.
Live the best life you possibly can so they know all their sacrifices have been worth it.
- Keep them as an important part of your life and continue to share your joys and pain with them.
- Technology is wonderful. They can be with you through Skype, and Facebook and text messages. Even a hand written letter will reach out and touch their soul.
- Continue to lean on them for support, ask for their advice, and let them know how grateful you are for all they have given you.
- Involve your parents in your travels. Have them to meet you somewhere in the world and create wonderful travel memories with them.
- Come home for a surprise visit and watch them cry and then hug them straight away.
- Show them how much travel has changed you for the better. They will be so glad that you decided to follow your heart and leave them.
How can I tell my parents?
I know it is frightening when you think of what your parents will say. No one wants to let their parents down.
- Be honest. Explain what you want to do and why.
- Have answers prepared for when they ask you what are you going to do about your future. They’ll be worried you are throwing away a future career. Show them how your travels will actually help you learn and grow.
- Show them what other long-term travellers are doing, and how their life has changed. Get them to read our blog to see how our career prospects never suffered, how we have travelled with our family, and we are so happy living the life we really want.
- Show them you are serious by sharing with them your plans, your research, your savings preparation, and your budget. In our upcoming book that is launching in 2 weeks, we’ll be showing you how to do all this. (Get on the list now to receive a special introductory offer).
- Don’t forget to share your back up plans in case anything goes wrong. What do you plan to do should you run out of money, your things get stolen, you get into trouble. Let them see you have researched how to stay safe on the road. Trust me, they’ll be worried about those damn crocodiles.
- Tell them why you want to travel and what you hope to get out of it at the end. It’s hard to not support someone when you see how they won’t be complete until they fulfil their burning desires.
- Let them know how much they mean to you and will still be a part of your life. (You might just inspire them to finally live the travel dreams they have always had)
Don’t be afraid of change
It’s a natural part of life.
You can’t evolve unless you embrace change, and you can’t thrive unless you evolve. Don’t be frightened about who you could possibly be in two years time and what this might mean for your family relationships and friendships.
You can only live your life based on the now. If things change they change, love never has to.
You’ll always love your friends and family, but you have so much space in you to love an infinite amount of people. Don’t limit your capacity for love and learning by shutting out experiences because you are afraid of letting go and walking into a future that might seem cloudy and uncertain, but is really full of light and beautiful rainbows.
Think about it, would you want your parents, or siblings to give up their hopes and dreams just so they could be near you?
Please share your fears and thoughts about leaving behind those you love.
How do you manage it? Does it stop you from travelling?
Read more reasons why you won’t travel and what to do:
- I have too many responsibilities
- My career will suffer
- It’s not safe and I’ll be alone
- I don’t have any money