10 Ways to Prepare Friends and Family for your upcoming long-term trip
Although making the decision to travel long-term was a huge and life altering move, it’s nothing compared to explaining your choices to friends and family. Here are 10 ways to help you deal with the reactions your love ones will inevitably have once you break the news that you’ll be gone for awhile.
1. Make a trip to your hometown before leaving.
This is especially important for those of us who already live in a separate city or state than the rest of our families. A face-to-face conversation, while possibly grueling, is a way to show that you are serious about the decisions you’ve made. You never know who is going to congratulate you on your adventure and who’s going to call you crazy for making such a ‘rash decision.’ At this point, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they hear the news directly from your mouth and have a chance to share their feelings, whatever they may be.
2. Respectfully disagree.
As mentioned before, you may get some opposition from those you love. As annoying as some advice may be, give the people closest to you respect as they voice their concerns. Make eye contact and don’t interrupt them. Even if what they’re saying hurts your feelings a bit, don’t feed into it. As long as you’ve properly prepared yourself for your upcoming trip, there is no need to second guess yourself now based on another’s opinion, no matter how well they may mean. However, it is crucial to the standing relationships you have to make them feel heard.
3. Talk with your obvious supporters first.
This will give you the confidence boost you need before you approach those close to you who may not be as supportive of your decision to travel. Also, you can have these people with you when you break the news to others. Any form of support will make those dis-confirming conversations much easier to swallow. Your support team will also act as another rational voice in the debate of ‘living your dream vs. living in others’ expectations of you.’
4. Be firm. Don’t back down, no matter what.
Throughout all discouragements, you have to be the one who is sure of the life ahead you’ve chosen. Make sure everyone else is certain of your certainty. End every conversation with confidence and an aggressive “that’s that.” As long as you maintain your confidence, there’s no other choice but for friends and family to wish you well.
5. Offer to send gifts. Try to soften the blow with a token of peace.
More than likely you’ll be on a strict budget, but there are plenty of things you can send while away (such as postcards, magnets, local jewelry, etc.) that will add a small perk to your loved ones lives. Everyone loves souvenirs and with something in the deal for them, friends and family might change their tune.
6. Promise to keep in contact.
Some of the reactions you’ll receive from loved ones stems from fear that they may never see or hear from you again. It is important that they know you’ll make sure to keep in touch regularly. This way, they will feel better knowing that you are safe and also that you haven’t forgotten about them in your world escapades. Make sure to keep your promise, too. Don’t forget about the people who mean the most in your life when they’re out of site. Sending lengthy postcards, messaging on Facebook and emailing regularly are a few ways to assure that your family knows you’re safe and that you miss them as much as they miss you.
7. Have your reasons ready.
Even though some of us decided, almost on a whim, to gallivant the globe, we all have our reasons for doing so. It could be that you’ve always dreamed of a life on the road, that you want to sample a minimalist lifestyle on the go, you want to immerse yourself in other cultures or languages, or that you are bored in your current life and need some serious adventure. Whatever your reasons, write them down. All of them. Be sure to recite them to everyone you announce your departure to so they can better understand why you’re leaving.
8. Mentally brace for the best and worst reactions.
Prepare yourself for a range of emotions. You’ll be surprised at how some of those you thought would “get it” react negatively. Even more surprising is the overwhelming joy from those you assumed would be dismissive. Understand that there is a plethora of emotions to expect, from happiness, to envy, to hopeful inclusion, to downright nastiness. You may even find distance between you and a friend that you didn’t expect to have. Get yourself ready for any possible reaction from anybody.
9. Lay out your plan.
Show them that you’ve done your research and you know what you’re doing. Sometimes our loved ones are so nervous for us, they forget that we’re responsible adults. Reassure friends and family that you are ready, and even excited, for the unexpected. Like presenting them with your reasons for long-term travel, they have no choice but to respect your plan, even if they disagree with it.
10. Rest assure that they will come around.
Time truly does heal everything. At some point the naysayers will see that you’ve got this. After a few cities, states and countries, they’ll get used to your life on the road. You won’t hear as many grumbling and your constant contact with them will ease their fears. You’ll even get a surplus of people back home wanting to meet you in a foreign place to sample the adventurous lifestyle you’re leading. You being happy with your life is all that’s important, which is how everyone who cares for you should feel. At the end of the day, this life belongs to you, so do what makes you smile and hope that eventually those you love can share those smiles with you.