For some, explaining to people that you want to give up a life of bricks and mortar even if just for a short time can be a daunting process. It can be made even harder if your unsure of how they will react, especially if those people are family members. So just how can you approach the subject and deal with any negativity or reassure those who might have concerns. Every family is different but hopefully your find a few tips below when it comes to having that talk.
Now I’ve been there and I’ve done it and I know its not easy. Convincing people that you know its the right move for you and that it is something you really have to do can be challenging, even more so when close family members disagree or in worse case scenarios, really don’t wont you to. Maybe your be one of the lucky ones that has the full support of everyone around you, family and friends or maybe, like me, your have some explaining to do.
WHO SHOULD I TALK TOO?
In short, everyone! Tell the world what your plans are because what your doing is frickin’ awesome. Tell your friends and work colleagues because by this point you have already set the intention to go off travelling in your campervan so you shouldn’t feel any embarrassment about talking about it and you are already in the right mind-set to fend off any negativity. Not everyone might agree with your plans but remember, you know its right for you and your prepared to give it a shot. I found that a lot of the negativity I received when I told people I’m selling up and moving into a campervan for an indefinite amount of time, especially from friends, came from their jealously and resentment that they aren’t doing the same or because they tried to do the same but failed so I was bound to as well. Remember, everyone’s trip, expectations and experiences are going to be different so don’t pay to much attention to negative comments. Of course listen to the horror stories but don’t let them put you off, learn from them instead. Just because your friend had to end his or her trip early because they run out of money doesn’t mean you will too. In the end, I learnt to turn any negativity into determination, a determination to prove them wrong.
There are however some important people your going to need to talk to apart from friends, who are of course your family. It doesn’t matter if your forty five years old and about to hit the road with your partner and two kids or someone in there thirties who’s single or your 18 years old and fresh out of education. Having the support of your family can make a massive difference and in some cases, without it can make things very difficult indeed. Now, like I said, every family is different and everybody’s family are going to react differently when you tell them. It might be the case that you come from family with a history of travel. Mum’s done it, dads done it and your big brothers just returned from a two year backpacking trip so convincing them you want do it too might not be so hard at all. Or, like me, you may well be the first person that you know of in your family to ever go off on a big adventure. I certainly was the first to want to move full time into a campervan.
Now its true, the fears of family members may be different for someone who’s in their forties with a healthy savings account to that of someone who’s 18 and has only managed to scrape enough together for their campervan and the first six months of being on the road and may have never lived outside the family home. But, over the years I’ve talked to and helped out fellow travellers of all different ages and financial and marital positions and the questions from family members tend to be the same.
Try and think of sensible ways to help show that this is something your capable of doing
IS IT SAFE?
Ah, the ‘Is it safe’ question. I guarantee this will be one of the first concerns raised when you tell family members your plan. Remember, they are asking you this question, not always because they don’t want you to go, but because they care about you. It is natural for a parent to be concerned for the wellbeing of their children no matter how old you are and to them, a campervan as a home might not seem as safe and secure as a house. Turning around and just saying something like ‘well of course its safe’ is probably not going to reassure them. Instead, you should be prepared for this question and be able to show them examples of others that are doing it or have done it. Show them videos or blogs about what its like to be on the road fulltime. Of course there are dangers, but there are dangers to living in a house too.
Its also worth baring in mind that if your in your twenties or older, chances are your parents never had the opportunity to go traveling when they were young. They were from a generation that couldn’t just drop everything and go off round the world, probably leaving school and straight into employment, marrying young and having children. The opportunities you have weren’t available to them so their understanding of the whole travel life will be very different from yours.
Its also going to depend on how your doing your trip. If your traveling solo through Africa or the middle East their reaction might be different to that of a trip with friends through Southern Europe. But be prepared with knowledge and examples of others that have done similar trips. I found that some of my friends and family had an unintentionally biased opinion of the safety of taking on this lifestyle. They’d heard in the news about those two backpackers that were murdered in Northern Australia or about the solo hiker that went missing deep in the forests of China and was never found and concluded it must be pretty dangerous. The thing is, what the media doesn’t report is the hundreds of thousands of people that go off traveling every year and have a fantastic, trouble free experience. Good news like that doesn’t make headlines but your find numerous examples online so sit down with them and show them.
If maybe you fall into the younger end of the traveller spectrum, I’d say below 20, then come to some agreements. These could be as simple as guaranteeing you stay in touch on a weekly or fortnightly basis, either by phone or email. This is only going to work if your traveling through countries with good WIFI connection. If your planning a trip in the wilds of Alaska, explain to them it might not always be possible but your always do all you can to let them know if you think your internet signal is going to be bad in the coming weeks and that as soon as it returns, your give them a call. You could agree to only stay overnight at camping grounds or areas they deem more safe than the side of a road. Maybe it will help by ensuring they know the route you intend to take so they can do their own research. In the end you are going to have to prove to them that you are sensible enough and have done enough research into your intended trip to be as safe as possible. Of course, there is no guarantee to keeping out of trouble but nor is there when you live in a house.
It may well take certain members of your family longer to adjust to the idea so don’t just spring it on them a couple of days before you move into your new campervan. Allow them time. When I approached my family I did so about six months before I gave up my bricks and mortar house. Most of my family thought it was great, if not that I was slightly mad, but it did take my mum rather more time to adjust. However, I talked to her a lot in the run up to moving in and tried to explain everything. I couldn’t always reassure her 100% and I doubt anyone can ever do so, the natural instinct to look after and protect your child is always going to be there and doubts regarding your safety will always linger no matter what you do in life. But when I finally moved into my campervan I had the full support of all my family.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO IT?
People are perhaps going to be puzzled when you tell them your plans. I mean, its not exactly what people nowadays consider the norm. Okay people go off traveling a lot, especially when they finish their education and before they start a career but these trips tend to be for six months to a year. Living for an extended period of time from a campervan or even full time is not what most people do. Family members may mistake your new direction in life for something its not, a cry for help or a struggle to cope living independently from the family home. Make sure your clear in your mind why your doing it. For me, I was doing it because id had enough of working ridiculous amounts of hours each week just to afford a roof over my head. I was longing for an adventure and to see the world but I knew that if I kept up with my current way of life that was never going to happen. I told them I had to it for me, for my own well being and happiness. Living how I was made me unhappy and I wanted more.
Traveling is also one of the best forms of education you can get. It will open your eyes and mind to new worlds, new ways of doing things and new experiences. These will be experiences you cant get staying at home or in further education. These are hands on, real experiences and nothing can compare to them. Travelling allows you to get involved with different cultures and gives you a fascinating glimpse into how other peoples daily life’s unfold. The amount you learn if you allow yourself to will both be incredible and invaluable. For me this was just as important.
Making family members understand why your doing it might not be entirely possible as they may not see things the way you do. But by showing them that you are clear in your own mind, it will go along way to helping them. So long as your not running away from a murder conviction or the tax man, they should come around.
Money money money, its a shame but without it you wont last long on the road.
HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING FOR?
In my case, they may well of asked how long is a piece of string. I had no idea other than I was off to try and do it for either as long as I can or as long as I wanted to. If you know how long your trips going to be then great, you’ll have an answer. They still might think its too long (rarely will it be short) but again explain your reasons. Why are you going for the length of time you are? Maybe its because that’s the time you think your need judging by the research you’ve done or maybe its just the time you can afford to go if your not planning on working on the road.
If, like me, your not sure then the subject can be a little harder. I didn’t know basically because I had no other thing that I wanted to do right now with my life. As far as I could tell, this was going to be it for the foreseeable future. If I had to come back after a year or two then so be it, I’ll do something different then when I’m back. The wonders of modern technology have made it easier than ever to stay in touch but it still cant make up for being there in person at times like Christmas, weddings, birthdays or other celebrations. This is one of the few downsides to being nomadic and one you and your family will have to understand. Skype is a beautiful thing though.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
Lets say you’re in your mid thirties and have decided to travel in your campervan, that may mean giving up your job or career as you know it now. If its a job you don’t like too much then it might not be so hard to let it go but if its a career you worked hard for then family members might have some worries. Maybe you love your job but the thought of taking this turn in your life outweighs it or maybe the dream career isn’t turning out liked you hope. Either way, if you have worked hard for it, studied for it, passed exams for it and now appear to be turning around and giving it all up, it might raise some questions. Again though, explaining why your taking this change of lifestyle in the first place will help.
If you don’t like your career then tell them, tell them its not for you anymore. Your reasons are going to be personal and apply to you only but try to make them understand. If its a career you have qualifications in then chances are if things go wrong then you can always come back and use those qualifications to regain employment. It might not be as good as your old position but you have options. Alternatively your career maybe something you can do whilst on the road. For example if your web developer or a consultant of some kind then you may well be able to still do this with just an internet connection. This has a double bonus of keeping your career going and earning money whilst travelling.
If your yet to start a career and are maybe just doing your job because it allows you to save the cash you need for your adventure then no worries, explain to them that you can always start a career later if all things fail but right now, this is more important to you. And who knows what opportunity are going to come up when you travel. I know countless people who have started business whilst traveling just from their laptops after seeing a certain niche that they believe they can fill. If they never travelled, they might never of known about it.
HOW WILL YOU EARN MONEY?
Money money money, its a shame but without it you wont last long on the road. If you have large savings then you may well not need to worry about earning money whilst you travel but if, like I was, your set to run out within six months or so then it may cause family members to be concerned. If, like I mentioned above, your able to take your job with you then great but if your not, how can you convince people your be financially okay.
Don’t be too concerned as there are a whole host of ways to earn money no matter what age you are. Some countries offer special working holiday visas which allow you to work in that country for a certain amount of time, normally 1-2 years. These will depend on your age though. If your from a country within the European Union then your be able to work anywhere in Europe anyway. Finding work isn’t that difficult if your prepared to try your hand at anything. I’ll be writing an article in the future about working abroad and what your options are so if its something you’re interested in then keep an eye on the articles page.
If your leaving on your trip and you think your going to need to work whilst your travelling then take the time to speak to your family about what it is your planning to do or can do. Having new work experiences can be great, maybe your work in a vineyard in Australia for a while or help out the local fisherman in Spain. In most instances you’re not going to earn a fortune but your earn enough to get to the next country and find something new.
On a side note, having a back up credit card can be a good idea. Personally its what I do. It has a large enough amount of credit on it that if the worst was to happen then I can always afford a flight back home. But I use it for just that, emergences. If you tap into it for nights out on the town or use it to take that whale watching tour all your friends are doing but you don’t have the cash for, your going to run into trouble, especially when it comes to the repayments.
WHAT IF THEY SAY I CANT GO?
Its rare I hear about people who get told by family members that they are not allowed move into their campers and travel. The few times I have, it is always with younger travellers of around 18-20 years old. Your just going to need to keep working at it. For example, I talked to an 18 year old lad who dreamed of living out of his car following the surf around Europe but his parents hated the idea and really didn’t want him to go. He knew that by having the backing of his parents he would have a much better time and although legally an adult and able to make his own decisions, he didn’t want to cause a rift in the family that may not heal for some time if he just upped and left. Instead I suggested maybe taking them away on a weekend camping trip and show them what it was like, how happy this lifestyle made you and prove to them that he was capable of looking after himself and make good decisions. He did and it turned out to be a big step in changing their view. Three months later he was on the ferry with the backing of his family and last time I checked in he was still on the road.
Try and think of sensible ways to help show that this is something your capable of doing and that you understand the risks and ways of minimising them. Keep at it but remember, chances are they are only worried about you because they care, its not like they don’t wont you to have fun.
Above all, when your having the talk, especially with your family, stay calm and don’t fly off the handle just because they might disagree. Arguing about it just isn’t going to help anyone. By being clear in your own head why and how your doing it then chances are, there come around to understanding.
Read Part 4 – Saving For Your Dream Adventure