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This is an excerpt from the chapter “Convincing your family to support you“.
Family can be the toughest roadblocks to quitting your job to travel. Most family members find it difficult to understand why you want to leave a perfectly good job and dive into the unknown without the security of a back-up plan.
It took me two years to plan my round-the-world trip. During these two years, I kept telling my family members about my plan. I made it clear to them that it was a serious decision for me and that I would make it happen.
My mother had been very understanding and supportive. My father’s reaction was, “Oh, I can’t stop you, can I?”
Still, the rest of my relatives were either shocked or dismayed when I finally left my job. One of them overreacted, becoming verbally abusive when I broke the news to him. He called up my father to berate him for allowing me to do such a thing.
When you are facing all these questions from your family, ask yourself, “How badly do you want this?”
If the answer is, “So bad that it hurts,” then let your family know. This is one of the very few times you can achieve something truly amazing for yourself on your own. Tell them how much it matters.
Help them worry less
Your family worrying about your safety is normal. It means that they care. For me, it initially felt like they didn’t trust my abilities and judgment enough but I’ve since come to see things from their point-of-view.
Here are some ways to help them worry less:
1. Let them know where you’re going
Once you have confirmed your itinerary, collate the contact details of your accommodation and hosts in the form of a document. Include the dates that you’ll be traveling in every country alongside the contact details of the respective embassy.
Print out this document if your family still lives in an analog world. If not, you can email it to them.
This step shows that you take this trip seriously and know that they are concerned about your whereabouts.
2. Show them that the world is safe
With the news preferring to show the violent and gory sides of the world, it’s easy to think that everywhere else is dangerous.
Arm yourself with facts about your destinations. For example, I went to Greece a few months after the anti-austerity riots. But when I was there, life seemed pretty normal. There were even more people hanging out at cafes in the middle of the day than there are in Singapore.
3. Stay connected
Staying connected throughout the journey will ease your family’s worries. I always got hold of a local SIM card when I arrive in a new country. I would immediately contact my mother, who was the point of contact for the rest of the family, to let her know that I was safe.
What if you feel you cannot leave your family
Maybe your biggest roadblock isn’t that your family is not supportive of you. But that you’re the one who’s supporting your family, so you cannot leave.
I’m not asking anyone to abandon their family responsibilities and run to the ends of the earth. If you are the only support of your family, I wouldn’t encourage you to leave your family and travel.
But if you know others who can help you out, ask if they can take care of your family just for this period of time. They understand if they know how important this is to you.
Invite your family to join you for part of your trip. My mother came to Turkey and we went traveling together. I found her company a welcome change as I had been traveling alone for close to two months.
Learn how you can plan your career break