I wrote this some time ago, a week or so before I left for Europe, and then added some tips to it after a few months of backpacking – I thought it was time to share. 🙂
***How to minimize the freak out of your Family when you say: “I’m…going to backpack Europe for an indefinite amount time, k bye.”***
Now, by no means am I asking you to lie to achieve this, that would be wrong, right? I’m just going to give some tips to lessen the blow.
I have some history with this subject, considering the initial exposure of all of my “travel plans”( more like a makeshift cardboard box of plans) about backpacking Europe, made my Mother cry. Tears, tears streaming down her cheeks with a silent and dramatic sob. Tears of happiness you may assume? No, no. She cried tears of sadness. My mistake was that I approached her with TOO much information of every definition of the word “unknown.” Unknown is a scary place to be for most mothers and families. With some learning as I go practice, I gradually have perfected my technique and how to softly release information.
1.) I was lucky enough to of been given the gift of a bit of financial help from a company called, KEEN. They are an outdoorsies company that produces remarkable shoe ware with odds and ends for the traveler. They had given me a special promo that came tagged along with a huge list of discounts to purchase some of our gear with. “Our”, is in reference to myself and my fiancée, Jessica, who is accompanying me on this “scary as hell journey.” (Those words were told to me from my family.) This was my first adjustment to my method of how to speak to my family about my trip: I simply had said “A company is somewhat sponsoring us with some HUGE help on our shoes.” That right there, was a validation that I wasn’t insane, that someone else in the world, somewhere – supported us and was h-a-p-p-y about our endeavor. So, in a simpler put form, speak of people or friends they respect, or of a sponsor, and how THEY support it. Slight lessening of the blow right there.
2.) Give them set plans! I am talking hard and solid facts of some flight bookings and train tickets, even give them the street where you plan to hitchhike. No, no I am kidding about that last one! I beg of you to not mention that word to your family. When I showed my family a set itinerary, ya know, apparently that’s the “only right way” to travel these days, but when I showed them the set in stone plans, (which are extraordinary rare in backpacking, or course) – I witnessed a motion, a motion of my mother’s shoulders slightly sagging forward. She was becoming relaxed! It continued to work with the rest of my family. Check, second method achieved and worked miraculously.
3.) Now if you’re planning to backpack Europe, you have come to terms with and knowing you will perhaps come across circumstances that you may have to or want to hitchhike. Now if you haven’t come to terms or just said “hell no” to that, then recheck yourself into the category of a traveler of the country, not necessity a backpacker. Continuing on with this, you never on any matter of circumstance or desperation or of an accidental slip of the tongue, do you ever, ever mention you are even thinking the term “hitchhiking.” That’s not lying, that’s withholding information. Tell them about your hitchhiking AFTER the fact.
Next tips are tips I have learned from along the way, I am currently three months in my backpacking.
4.) I knew I would be in situations and in people’s homes (using couchsurfing) where I may not have Internet service to be able to contact my family during every move. Being prepared is the key here, always, always, always mention that there “may not be Internet service where I go next.” That covers you in case you do not have the means or simply do not feel like emailing. I found myself to be exhausted after walking around Paris for 12 hours day after day, so this worked for me immensely, since all I wanted to do once I got back to my backpack – was to pass out face first onto whatever I was sleeping on that night.
5.) There were moments during this journey when I was scared, weak or plain ol’ tired of this crap. Living out of a backpack week after week, month after month – does play a toll on me. I started to dream of having my own drawer in a closet somewhere warm, I started to have an itch to have my own key on my own key chain that opened a door to “my place”, and I started to become overwhelmed with the mind numbing lack of privacy. I have learned to conquer these on my own, to come to terms with these things and these feelings rather than emailing my family at every spot of weakness. I email them AFTER I conquer a moment of weakness. I learned this trade skill from my mother. When I was in the United States Army Basic Training for 11 weeks, my mother wrote me a letter every day, I never came across a day that a letter wasn’t passed out to me at night in the barracks. (That gave me such security and strength by the way Mom, thank you.) The letters were always within vibrant envelopes, full of smiles and laughs and ALWAYS made me feel good. There were a few things that happened back at home while I was in Basic Training, but she didn’t write about them to me – she kept me positive and kept me going strong off of the good. I respect that and love that she did that for me, as I am doing this for her now, and for the rest of my family. No one needs to hear every detail about the creepy men I have come across in hostels, or every detail of the tons of streets I have walked at night holding my knife in my pocket or do they need to hear of the every detail of every tear that I have shed due to being out of my comfort zone. Who cares? I came out of all of it alive, safe and have learned something from each experience. I don’t even remember half of the supposed “scary” stuff I have encountered, but my family would of remembered. So in simpler terms, filter your emails.
All of this was to be funny and have a lighthearted affect – the facts are true of course, but I just made them entertaining to read. All facts are true of my experience. Enjoy, and click the word “follow.” 🙂