Operation Travel: How to Break the News to Your Family

This post was contributed by Aliciamarie Balili.
So, you just booked your first trip! You’re excited, you’re nervous, and you have to break the news to your family and friends about your (possibly impulsive) decision to go off and see the world. Been there, done that, and will definitely continue to do it!
I was 19 when I booked my first solo-trip, and while I had told everyone in my life I was going to do this one day, I now had to tell them that I was actually going through with it!

Growing Up…

“Travel” meant summer vacations to Los Angeles, or yearly one-week cruises to Mexico, or a one-time road trip from California to Iowa.
Even though we rarely had the chance to travel abroad, our house was decorated with various trinkets from family friends and relatives who frequently explored the world. So, you can imagine how jealous I was when my distant uncle was swimming in the Dead Sea while I was eating cheese in Iowa. Iowa is great, but I’d love to float in these magical waters near Israel too!
The idea of traveling wasn’t taboo or unheard of, but the (un)spoken rule in our house was: “finish school before you do anything else.”
My life was planned out for me. I had to: graduate high school, go to college for 4 years, graduate with a high GPA, secure a job, and then be a minion in corporate America. That was the plan… the pre-destined plan I was supposed to follow.
I eventually realized that I’m terrible at planning and staying focused, so I decided that this path wasn’t the best decision for me.

I had to get out, create my own path, and TRAVEL!

This, of course, led me to the predicament of telling my parents about my (crazy) scheme. But, through some trial and error, I got the pitch right.
I knew what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

“Honesty’s the Best Policy,” Momma Always Said

Being open and honest with your family while ripping the band-aid off makes it slightly easier. When I told my parents that I was going to take time off from college to go backpack across Europe for a month, they were less than amused. There were equal parts of worry, shock, and confusion on their faces: “Omg what if something happens? Travel? Sorry, come again? Wait, what about school or work?”
I knew I had all of that coming my way, but I was ready for it. 
To put it in my Nana’s ever-so-eloquent words: “Bing, bang, boom! You’re dead!” This is beyond valid since we’re all clocks running at different time zones, and none of us know for certain when our time is going to be up.

I didn’t want to follow the beaten path only to have my fate sealed at such a young age. I want to see everything now, and then figure everything else out later.

When I sat down with them and explained why I wanted to go, they understood and supported and my decision. One of the main reasons they were so understanding was because I didn’t frame the conversation as “because I want to.”

First-time Freakout

Once you give that first heart-wrenching speech that’ll nominate you for an Oscar while those around you cry, you’ve pretty much established that if you don’t explore the world you’ll turn to dust where you stand. This is totally dramatic, but it makes it hard for someone to fault you for following your dreams.
I was motivated to go to the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. Dr. Seuss got it right with Oh, The Places You’ll Go! He’d be proud, because I definitely did “go.”
“BUT YOU DON’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE! WHAT HAPPENS IF …”

Let’s be real, sh*t happens. But, you can’t live your life based off of  “what ifs.”

If you live with this mentality, you might end up missing out on all of the mind-blowing moments that could have happened!  
Getting lost may not seem like an ideal situation for some, but when it happens in King Louis XIV’s luxury garden, can you really be that upset? Before our tour started, my friend and I thought it would be a good idea to walk around the garden maze at the Palace de Versaille. I was definitely suffering a little from my allergies, but it was worth it. The phrase “stop and smell the roses” applies heavily to this beautiful garden, one that I would have never seen or gotten slightly lost in, had I stayed home.
Your family’s concern for your safety and well-being is nice, but you’ve got to be honest with them. Own up to the fact that you might run into bumps, and make sure to have a plan for them. Also, boosting their ego works – just remind them that you were raised by them; therefore, you’re ready to take on the world because of their amazing parenting skills. In your family’s eyes, it’ll make you seem more responsible and like you actually know what you’re doing (even if that isn’t the case)! You’ll grow self-trust also because you’ll have no one to run to in the event things do go wrong.

Sometimes You’ve Gotta Bribe Them

How bad do you really want to go? Everyone can be persuaded with a little something something –– you just have to name the right price. Don’t bribe them with luxurious, fancy items that you scoured all day for. As a broke college kid, that’s not even an option. Instead, tell them that you’ll bring them back cultural memorabilia: pictures, letters, postcards. Parents love that stuff! Traveling is expensive, so you won’t be able to promise them something from Louis Vuitton in Paris. BUT, you can certainly take pictures of LV in Paris for them.

The point is to remind them that they’ll be a part of your experience even if they’re not there.

Another gift is the gift of your virtual presence. Lessen the pain of your departure by promising frequent texts and calls of how your travels are going. Your loved ones will, without a doubt, be concerned about you. But, reassuring them of your well-being means that you care about their feelings. Scheduling a weekly FaceTime or Skype session is usually a good call.
Let them know it’s a new era! Travel isn’t a luxury anymore. It’s the new way of learning and becoming a more intelligent person. It’ll give you an experience that you’ll never forget – one that’ll attract employers, and some super dope people into your life. Do your parents want an average kid OR a well-traveled kid?

If All Else Fails…

You gave an award-worthy speech, you were open, you were honest, you bribed them with pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but they still won’t tolerate it. Unfortunately, some people are just going to stay with their hatin’ attitude. The best you can do for them is to hold your head up, shrug your shoulders, and carry on with your life. Working towards your own financial freedom is the next best thing, then you don’t need permission from anyone to live the life you’ve always wanted.
You have sights that you have to get ready for and you can’t dwell too much on what the naysayers are gonna say.

So, go off! Get your camera ready, and enjoy the adventure!

Alicia is just a low-key cool kid & high- key nerd who is looking for some spice and adventure in life. Keep up with Alicia on Twitter

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