I’m a person who will look at the price tag on a designer handbag and think “Man, I could get a plane ticket to Istanbul for that”. I check google flights before I check my emails. My friends and co-workers don’t ask me what I did over the weekend, they ask me where I went. I keep a carry-on packed with travel essentials ready to go at all times. My mother has grown used to the fact that she can call me one day and I’m in Miami, the next day I’m in Budapest. She just tells me to “be mindful and have fun”. I’m lucky, not everyone is in this boat.
Recently, I was having a conversation with a young lady who applied for My Wander Year, a program taking 50+ people around the world for a year that begins in August. She mentioned how life changing this opportunity is for her and her son. She talked about the amount of courage it took to make the decision to move abroad for a year and how she’s been waiting for something like this for a long time. She also mentioned that negativity and skepticism from her family are putting a huge damper on her excitement about this incredible opportunity.
Here’s the point where you say “who cares what they say.” Right? The truth is, we’d all love to say we don’t care about other people’s opinions, but when you’re excited about something, especially something as big as traveling the world, you want the people who you care about to be excited with you. Sadly, I often hear that people are met with skepticism and negativity about their travel plans by their cautious and disapproving family members whether it be for long-term travel or just a weekend.
So when you’ve followed popular travel personality, Kenna William’s advice to #bookdatish and you’re jumping up and down with glee about your new trip and your family rains on your parade, what do you do?
1. Charge it to their heart, not their head
Despite the fact that MaDear is ornery, chews with her mouth open, always smells like Vicks Vapor rub and snarls when you tell her you’re going to Abu Dhabi “you better not, they’ll sell you some Muslim man and make you marry him”, she does love you and believe she’s looking out for your best interests. Your family reserves the right to be concerned about your well-being. Go ahead and accept that they mean well.
2. Convert them
Help them get comfortable with the fact that you’ve actually done your research and aren’t some wandering hippie handing your life over to chance in exchange for some cool vacation photos. Sure, they should already know you’re a responsible adult, but there’s no harm in reminding them. Show them your digs so they know you have a safe place to stay. Let them know you’re traveling with responsible and reliable people. Share with them some of the fun, enriching, and exciting things you plan to do. It’s likely the more they know the more they’ll get excited too.
3. Take ‘em to school
We fear what we don’t know. One of my friends called me the day before I was leaving for Prague and asked “do you really want to go to Europe after the bombing in Paris”. I don’t think she realized where the Czech Republic is. Truth is, before I bought a ticket there, I could hardly point it out on a map that didn’t already have it written in (I’d totally fail a ‘complete the map’ geography test right now).
My coworkers cautioned me against going to Kenya in March of last year around the Ebola outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other Western African countries. In my 4th grade teacher voice, I educated them on the fact that Kenya is an East African country. I showed them, in miles, the distance from Kenya to the West African countries that were reporting Ebola. I then pulled up the distance from our office to the CDC in Atlanta and the Hartsfield Jackson Airport where Ebola patients had recently been. We were closer to it sitting in our desks filling out our TPS reports than I would be driving in the Mara hunting for dope photos of the Big Five. They never brought it up again.
4. You be the judge
People judge what they don’t understand or value. Keep in mind that this travel craze is really just gearing up and Americans as a whole don’t really make travel a priority. More than 40% Americans don’t use their vacation days, and some believe it costs an arm and a leg to travel. They have no concept of booking a flight to Abu Dhabi for $220 or one to Vancouver for $45 (yep, that happened).
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Here’s your moment to share with them that you value your freedom to move about the world and gain new experiences. If you want to throw a little shade ask them why the hell they’re content sitting on their couch waiting until they retire to step outside of their four block radius…**shrugs** People are often stunted by the artificial borders they draw around themselves.
5. Don’t get in your feelings, get on the plane
Because you booked a ticket and you’ve got somewhere to go whether your family likes it or not. You have to make the decision. This is your one and only life. You can listen to their negativity or you can listen to the rhythm of the beautiful soca music playing in the streets of Trinidad. You can let worry consume you, or you can be consumed by the ocean on the coast of Bali. You can drink the caution kool-aid, or you can drink coffee laced with gold in Abu Dhabi. You can give in to fear, or you can give in to the wonderful smell of street food in Thailand. You can have regrets, or you can have amazing experiences.
You can learn more about My Wander Year and follow along with my trip around the world with 50+ people by visiting www.mywanderyear.com.