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.
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.”