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Confronting Indian Parents About Solo Travel

Riding alone through the Himalayas and i come across this view. Such Experiences!

Travelling Solo that too while your career hasn’t even taken shape! This is almost a Taboo for the ideal Indian Parents. Breaking this Taboo and changing the reserved mind-set of parents is a task within itself; probably more challenging than any examination you’ve ever given. The confrontation will not be easy. I am Not Kidding! I know the immense difficulties of trying to persuade your parents for a Solo Trip; no matter how far or safe it is. This difficulty increases multi-fold especially if you are in your teens or early 20s; and it is almost impossible (yes, impossible!) to convince both of them at the same time. Actually, my case turned out to be an exception as my parents accepted my decision (although after thorough questioning) together and instantly. These are the ways I presented my plan and got through to them. Hope you succeed using them yourself!

1.            Build-Up to D-Day.

Don’t just willy-nilly break the news at breakfast one morning. All you will get is a stare that will crush your confidence. Decide a date/day suitable for you and your parents.Then, proceed slowly (and with caution), by dropping hints daily or weekly. Show them pictures and videos of the destination, travel articles/blogs about the place etc. Experience of a dear friend or family member will be an added bonus. Spread out these activities over a week or two.
The most important advice after you are done pitching your idea; NEVER ever expect an instant (& that too positive) reply. Do NOT force them into making the decision, you’ll probably hurt you case. Give them the time and space they need to process the information and hope for the best. Once you have successfully travelled across the country, steadily proceed towards international travels.

2.          Provide Necessary Information Only.

Worries, stressed and panicking parents back home is one thing you want to avoid at all costs while you travel alone in search of adventure. I am not encouraging anyone to lie but some information should be withheld to avoid chaos. If your parents know that you will be travelling alone, in an unknown territory, without any knowledge about the local people & language, wandering off from the road and ditching your itinerary, their minds will be in emotional ruckus.
They don’t know the thrill in getting of the trail and making your way to the countless adventure that provide you with thrilling experiences. Their only thought is SAFETY; which is not a bad thing. When you contact them, play it cool no matter what the situation is (unless an emergency- in which case withholding information might be dangerous). The fact is- their tension, worry and haphazard thoughts will fuel up (or ignite) yours and keep you from thinking straight and keeping calm.

If I told my parents that I was stuck in knee-deep ice at 15000 feet while I am travelling- the chaos back home is unimaginable! That's the road by the way.

3.          Keep Them In The Loop.  

This might sound a bit contradicting as I just advised you to withhold some information; but pay attention to what it means. Withholding information is different than providing no information at all! I am NOT advising anyone to keep their parents in the dark. Always keep them in the loop. Update them with your plans for the day or week. Destinations you’ll be visiting, new stuff that you‘ll be exploring. Accommodation plans and lastly, your health. One call/SMS/E-mail per day will give them the satisfaction they need and will also convince them about your well-being.
Mentioning the new things that you tried out, cuisine, culture and scenic beauty- YES; taking a detour just because you liked the village or hitchhiking with complete strangers to an unknown place- NO!  Share your most incredible experience from the place with them. I share my experiences through e-mails, messaging and mostly post dinner chats back home with 10-15 people listening quietly with astonished faces. Listening to your travel stories while you travel is the best way to show them why you love to travel solo, explore, go on adventures and how you do it.

4.          It is Not a Vacation.

It is necessary that you explain the difference between a vacation and travel to your parents. Make sure they understand this thoroughly to avoid difference of opinion and arguments later in the future. A vacation tends be a luxurious getaway from daily life where you splurge your money on high-end hotels and fancy rental cars. Travel; that too Solo travel at that is a different story.
Tell them that you won’t be doing all these luxurious activities; instead you will stay in hostels or home-stays, camp in extraordinary places, enjoy as you travel with the locals or when you hitchhike and experience a whole new world. 
It is crucial that you yourself have this cleared out too and don’t go overboard turning your travel/trip into a vacation. If you ignore your career and demand for “vacations”, you are bound to hear these words- “Career must be your top priority!”; which will probably scatter your travel dreams.

5.          Travel At Your Own Expense, Not Theirs

This might be difficult or down right impossible for some people; especially teens and those in their 20s trying to make it in the world. But, as far as possible, travel only with what you have earned. You can & need to find creative ways fund your travels. Washing your dad’s car and asking money for it is NOT what I mean; at all! (That’s pocket money/allowance). Finding work (a JOB) at young age isn’t easy, so go for internships.
A better option would be to find an outstation internship (or job, if you get one) which can relocate you to a destination on your bucket list; hitting 2 birds with 1 stone. You get to explore the place as you work while you earn enough to sponsor your next trip. Even if it is possible only for a short period (1-2 months during vacations for students), avoid other activities if you really want to travel and work during free times.
Lastly, if you are unable to figure out a way to do so, make a deal (i.e. polite request) - with your parents, that will have you “borrowing” the funds required for your trip and returning those after you earn them yourself. It’s very important you set a date of refund to hold up your end of the deal. This might be a bit difficult to digest for some of you or some might find the suggestion impolite, I apologise but this is the best way I can explain it. This is what I did (twice to be honest) and have kept a record of each and every penny my father has lent me for my travel.

Showing that you've got company will certainly give your parents some relief.

        How did you persuade your parents?


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