5 Ways to Deal with Solo Travel Negativity from Family & Friends

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I don’t know about you guys, but more often than not when I announce to my friends and family that I am planning to move overseas or go travel the world, especially alone, I am met with negativity.

And you know what? That freaking sucks!

Aren’t you afraid to travel alone? Don’t you want someone to go with you? That’s so expensive, where do you get the money? And such and such place isn’t safe, didn’t you know? UGH.

I wish that we lived in a more positive world, where women, especially solo travelers like me, are encouraged instead of discouraged.

But until things change, I think it’s necessary to learn how to deal with negativity when traveling.

When I first hit the road in 2007, I was shy and scared, and it took several years and many adventures around the world to find my confidence.

I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years about how to cope with travel negativity.

1. Do your research

Personally I think the majority of people’s fears come from not being aware of the current situation of a destination or lack of information.

Let’s be honest, many people around the world are afraid of other places and cultures, even if they pretend they aren’t.

The first time I went to the Middle East, my family went beserk even though where I was going was considered very safe, and even last month when I was in South Africa, I heard over and over again about Ebola, even though there hasn’t been a single case there.

I find the best way to combat this xenophobia, for lack of a better word, is to be armed with all the facts.

In a nice and friendly way, I’ve found it’s better to point out the truth and use it as an opportunity to educated than to just ignore it and remain frustrated.

Solo travel tips
In Cape Town, South Africa

2. Show that you take safety seriously when traveling

Another way I have been able to deal with negativity, especially from my family who worries about me, is to demonstrate to them over the years that I know what I am doing on the road and I don’t take dangerous risks and am a very safe traveler.

I think each time that I come back safe and sound, they worry less.

3. Stay connected when traveling

I think for the most part that friends and family can be negative about other people’s travels because they are worried.

Maybe they don’t travel themselves much or just care about you a lot, which is something very special. I take that very seriously, and that means when I am on the road I stay in as much contact as possible with my family especially.

I send them my itineraries in advance, let them know when my plane lands, and send updates and messages while on the road. I know that means a lot, especially to my mom.

Solo travel tips
In Istanbul, Turkey

4. Be open about how you make your travels happen

Another cause for negativity from people might be the fact that they can’t afford to go on the same trip or don’t even know how to go about it.

I know I agonized for a year before I took my first big solo trip and that was way before the days of travel blogs and online personas encouraging everyone to hit the road.

I can’t stand it when people say they can’t travel, which means I’m very open about how I make my travels happen.

Whether that’s explaining on my blog now how I earn money on the road or 5 years ago when I would casually tell friends about how I saved for certain trips, I’ve always been very open about how I was able to make trips happen in the hopes that it might be helpful to other people too.

5. Decide to be positive

Finally I think the most important thing to remember when dealing with haters or negative people about traveling is that at the end of the day it’s your life and your journey, and if you decide to not listen to them and be positive, you are going to have a great time.

26 thoughts on “5 Ways to Deal with Solo Travel Negativity from Family & Friends”

  1. I am glad that you have traveled and haven’t let the negative comments stop you from doing what you want to do. I don’t travel a lot by myself (usually with my hubby) but many family and friends always seem to think “Why would you want to go there?” I like the idea of being well informed with reasons to go, instead of not to go. Thanks for a great post.

  2. I’ve traveled solo for over 20 yrs and still get the questions, concerns and crazy stuff. I recently lost my job and decided on travel sabbatical of almost three months – wow did that get a lot of comments. In the end like you said, be positive it’s your life! travel and discovery is part of me but I recognize its not important for others –

  3. I also think making it clear that you won’t take no for answer is another good type. You aren’t asking permission- you are just informing them of your plans 😛

    There is a big culture of travelling and travelling young both within Australia and within my family so it wasn’t as difficult for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have super encouraging parents and grandparents that have been more excited and supportive about my plans than anything else. In fact when I told my mum I was starting to get a little scared about my looming departure and that I was worried about getting homesick, she responded with ‘you have been planning and working towards this for so long- you can’t not see it out now!’.

  4. When I went travelling alone 21 yrs ago my family was pretty good about it but I had to call home every Sunday afternoon.
    I find my mum so much worse now when I tell her I’m taking her 3 grand kids out of the country, especially to Asia. We are taking the 3 of them to Vietnam in 3 weeks & when I told her she thought I was kidding & said ‘Sally, kids don’t go to Vietnam!’ Guess what mum ‘ mine do!’

  5. I think its so important to do your research. And also to keep those at home in the loop of your plans so they will know your next steps

    Leonie ♥ Lo On The Go

  6. I think going on a vecation alone is a great thing when you’re young. When you get a little bit older is not so much fun. But it depends on the person and on their passion. Nice to see you can manage it. I couldn’t!

    1. I think you should reconsider making such absolute statements and projecting your own feelings onto everyone else. I’m in my forties and I definitely have more fun traveling alone than I did twenty years ago. Back then, I wasn’t as confident, experienced, knowledgeable, etc. Now, I have a better understanding of what my personal needs are and it makes traveling solo a blast.

  7. It can be a tricky thing to handle when your family and friends don’t want you to go anywhere. In May this year I told my parents I wanted to go to Belgium for the weekend by myself – I live in the UK and I’m 22 and I got phone call after phone call telling me not to do it! It’s definitely fear of the unknown and also that they couldn’t imagine themselves going on a solo trip because they wouldn’t have a good time without company and would constantly feeling unsafe, therefore it’s assumed I will feel the same way. It’s all just about doing it the right way, this is a really post and great advice!

  8. Wow! Liz. I so admire your sense of adventure and spirit for discovery! And courage! It takes great courage to head off across the world, along with major dedication. Your advice to others about dealing with worried family and negative friends is right on! My family had a difficult time when I started driving alone across country twice a year. But I stay in touch daily and now they’re ok with it. And some friends insist I let them know when I’ve reached final destination and am off the road. I’m good with that because I know they all care about me! Your advice about being open and honest with them as to what, where and how is especially pertinent. Nothing scarier to family than not knowing. You GO, girl!

  9. This article is great, I definitely have dealt and done all of these.
    I love traveling solo, yes I do get the “oh my god, again! Why do you want to go for such a long time? ” my family I know is very proud of me because I am hearing impaired and I don’t let that stop me from traveling.
    I’ve done three 7-9month working holiday overseas and love that I can have my own freedom to see the world.
    My family always ask me “is your vacation over yet? Are you coming home yet?” Ha only if they knew the stories of work places and what kind of labour jobs I’ve had to do to support myself along the way.
    My family aren’t travellers, so for me to branch out and travel is odd to them. But to me is completely normal as I love seeing other cultures and how people live all over the world
    I am still trying to figure out how to work and travel permanently.

  10. I totally agree on all of your points, especially on the first one. When talking to many people, I feel like doing something on their own is completely out of their comfort zone. Relying only on yourself is tough and it seems like many aren’t ready for that. For many people going on a holiday that isn’t an all inclusive tripped booked at some travel agency is unimaginable. The world is evil and scary and why on earth would anybody do that? Really hard to ignore such voices!

  11. this is very nice to try! I have traveled so much by myself, and EVERY TIME I still get raised eyebrows and eye rolls. But, I also get high praise for being brave, and sentiments of jealousy. So I guess it depends who you’re talking to. I personally think it’s the best way to travel! I like this travelling 🙂

  12. Great post !! thanks for all this tips sometimes is hard for your family specially your parents because they think that you are crazy and you are avoiding responsibilities

  13. This post really resonates. I think as a solo traveller you should follow your passion and go for it, but still do your due diligence and make sure the people at home won’t worry too much.

    It’s also important to shrug off negativity or weird vibes WHILE you travel. It’s rare but sometimes people think it’s weird you’re solo. On multiple occasions taxi drivers assumed that I, a solo male from a Western country, was definitely there to see prostitutes and kept offering to take me to a red light district. Nope, just here to travel actually…

  14. I started travelling in my early 20ies and 30 years later I am still doing it and loving it even more and more. While my parents were open minded, I once had to face the negativity of family overseas on my first solo trip to New York. At first I didn’t ignor my uncle’s advice, as I knew his concern was meant to protect me. Nonetheless I still remember how terrible it all sounded and how unsecure this made me feel about my surroundings. So I picked up the phone and spoke to a distant relative who lived in the city. This contributed to restoring my confidence and enthusiasm of being there alone and wanting to explore the city by myself. Most of times negative sentiments come from people who are close to us because they worry about us and our safety. Finding a way to counterbalance this and build a shelter from negativity is key. Great post!

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