Almost Fearless

Telling Your Friends and Family: Day 22 of 30w30d



This post is part of 30 Ways in 30 days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.

30 Ways in 30 Days, loved ones, breaking the news, travel

As you plan for your escape you might experience several emotions.  You might feel exhilarated, then panicked.  You might worry about money or safety.  You’ll do some research and reassure yourself.  You’ll read dozens of stories of others who have done this and loved it.  Finally, you’re prepared.  Confident.  Self-assured.

It’s time.  You have dinner with family and you make the big announcement.  You brace yourself for the cheers of congratulations.  Dead silence.  Your mother’s fork clinks against her plate as she drops her hand, mouth still agape.  “You’re what?”

Craig from thewidewideworld.com shared this story,

“My wife and I told her parents over Christmas dinner that we were going to travel around the world for a year. Their response: Forty-five full seconds of silence. Then, “Pass the potatoes.” And they never mentioned it again for three full months.”

This is completely natural, albeit a bit unsettling if you weren’t expecting it.  They might try to avoid talking about it.  They might tell you it’s a bad idea or question your intentions.  “What, you just want to run away?”  They might bring up concerns about your career or money or responsibilities back home.  They might guilt you or get angry.

You are Zen

Let all of this roll off of you.  Try to remember that while you’ve been thinking and planning for this for months, maybe even years, they are just finding out now.  Their first response is more about how they respond to change than about you.  Some people get angry, others laugh it off.  It has very little to do about whether they will eventually come around.

The first time you mention it, your only job is to answer their questions and ignore everything else.  Now is not the time to accuse them of not supporting you or letting yourself participate in an argument.  It’s okay to address it, but try to do so diplomatically, “I understand that this might take some time for you to get used to the idea.”

Timing the Conversation

The best time to start telling people is when you’re solid in your decision and have made major steps (like buying an airline ticket, setting a date or saving a good portion of money).  Testing the idea on other people, before you’re committed could work– or it could establish you as a bit flaky and make more serious conversations difficult later.  Or worse they could talk you out of it, before you’ve had a chance to work it out for yourself.

If you’re looking for a benchmark– about three months before your departure date seems to be a good balance.  It means that you’re close to leaving, but with plenty of time for people to adjust to the idea and say their goodbyes.

When They Don’t Come Around

You broach the subject, let their negative comments roll off your back, give them plenty of time to adjust, but sometimes, some people in your life will have a hard time supporting your decision.  Inherent in the decision to travel long term is an implied judgment call.  You’ve decided something else would be better.  Sometimes, to someone on the receiving end, that can feel like:

  • You’re not just leaving, you’re leaving them.
  • You’re not just changing your life, you’re saying your old life was broken (which included them)
  • You’re not just giving up material possessions, but saying they aren’t important.

This might manifest itself as comments like, “It must be nice” or “I’d love to travel but I’ve got to work” or “Not everyone can go jet-setting around the world” or “Once you’re done with this phase….”

Don’t drive yourself crazy over it.  Have compassion for your loved ones.  Even though they are being a bit hurtful, really what they are saying is “don’t go!”  It’s possible, they might not support it until you come back home.  You can’t force it.  Let them feel and behave how they want, and hopefully they’ll come around over time.

Oh My Gosh, We’re So Going to Visit You!

For all the warnings I’ve issued about the potential negative reactions, you could be one of the lucky ones with a super supportive and instantly understanding family.  In fact, they may be so excited that you get multiple offers to meet you on your travels.  This is great.  Except… well, you might not think so once you’re on the road.  Simply over staying in a few locations can put you off schedule and force you to rush (when you’d rather stay) or skip things in order to meet people on a certain date and time.  In your excitement to be able to see friends and family on the road you might be creating a situation where you’ll later resent the imposition.

And Yes You Have to Do It

It’s like taking off a band-aid, just rip it off.  Say the words and it’s done.  “I’m quitting my job/selling the house/starting a business and traveling the world.”

pic: SMN

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”

THERE ARE RARELY HAMMOCKS.

http://christinegilbert.com

9 comments

  • I disagree Gordie. We sold our house to fund our current one year RTW trip and it was the best decision ever. We had a large mortgage that renting it out would not cover. Buying a smaller home and renting it out did not make financial sense. In the end, we have come out completely debt free with enough money to travel for a year AND a tidy sum of money left in the bank for the future. We may purchase another home when we return…or maybe not. Owning a home is not the only way to financial stability.
    .-= Gillian´s last blog ..Flexibility Takes Us To Northern Turkey =-.

  • I guess this post is more relevant to people in North America as people in other parts of the world are more familiar with gap-years and career breaks.

    They way this post has been written it sounds like going abroad for a while is similar to revealing to your deeply conservative parents that you are a gay cross-dresser LOL!
    .-= NomadicNeil´s last blog ..Personal Branding =-.

  • It’s so weird how guilty I feel when I mention to my parents the possibility that my hubby and I might be moving to London next year. We currently live in the same state as both of our parents and his parents react as if we are telling them that the life they chose isn’t good enough, when we are saying no such thing. My parents are more relaxed and believe the change will be good for us, but I still feel guilty talking about the subject. And this is having no house to sell, no children, just a cat and two cars.
    .-= Carolina´s last blog ..Ask the Readers: What are you doing to achieve your dreams? =-.

  • I’ve tried to be up front with my plans, telling people early and often what I plan to do. For the most part there hasn’t been much resistance (My dad thinks it’s awesome and my mom says it’s okay AS LONG AS I COME BACK). I guess I am very lucky in that respect, although being young and unattached does help/

    I do get a lot of the “ohmigod I’m going to visit you” to which I just smile and say sure! 90% of them are just thinking wishfully and if the other 10% actually get their acts together I’m more than happy to meet up with them somewhere.

  • I told my parent’s about my plans for a ’round the world trip 2 YEARS in advance, on my birthday, while we were out at a fancy French restaurant for dinner.

    Of course they still dropped questions and hints about not going up until I left, but they slowly got to be supportive about it when they saw I was going to do what I wanted. I still don’t think they think it was a good idea, even though I’m not home, but I have no regrets.

    I think the best approach is to give people who you think might not be immediately understanding as much advance warning as possible, and try to involve them. Having a blog for your trip is a great way to do that from start to end.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Travel Video: Eurotrip Robot Fight =-.

  • When my husband told his parents about our travel plans (and also the fact that he was leaving his career of 14 years), they were shocked. It wasn’t necessarily the travel that had them bothered, it was the fact that he was leaving his well-established job. They asked “How will you be able to explain the gap in your resume”?

    For him, he hit a dead-end in his job, and being the dedicated worker he was, he wouldn’t be able to find another job while still working at his current position. The break and travels also gave him time to refocus on his career goals, and those he interviewed with were very impressed with his career break experience.

    After the experience (and a new job), his family finally “got it”.

    And @nomadicneil – it is a sad fact that our American culture hasn’t embraced the idea of gap years or career breaks. But we’re working to change that!
    .-= Michaela Potter´s last blog ..Favorite Tips: Updating Your Resume Before Your Travels =-.

  • I read this post when you first wrote it and thought it was so good. Then tonight I went looking for it…I’ve just returned from telling my folks that I plan to leave in 2 months for a year of traveling. Fortunately my job situation has created a timely break for me. But I was still nervous about The Conversation. (I totally looked like the gal in the picture (except no glasses and I’m older – ha!) Although I’ve had these talks over the years in different ways with my folks, it’s still never easy. I think they keep hoping I’m ready to settle down. I will never be ready I think. But I am lucky in that my folks get me. We are very different but they tell me they admire my adventurous spirit and agree with me that there is no reason why I shouldn’t go. I don’t know what they say to each other when I’m not around 🙂
    Thank you for your wisdom in these 30 Days posts! Very supportive and helpful.
    .-= Robyn´s last blog ..Setting Goals Beyond Our Reach =-.

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