Wanderlust vs. Worrywart Mom
Question: I am dying to travel solo. However, my mom continues to be selfish and overprotective. She doesn’t think it’s safe for me to travel alone to a family friendly place and she says that she wouldn’t do it at her age. But I’m 23, turning 24 in November, and graduating college this year. I am much too old to put up with this nonsense. That is something you would tell a child, like a 12-year-old.
At first I wanted (and still do) to travel to another state not too far from where I live (the flight would be less than 2 hours). But she refused and it led to a fight that took more than 12 hours to resolve. So I emailed her reasons why it’s okay (and even beneficial) to travel alone, showed her that many women travel alone, and that solo travel being unsafe for females is not a fact, but a common misconception.
I decided to start off with a mini solo trip that is even closer to my house and easy to get to. It’s a place that’s small, safe, and I’ve been to before, twice. But she still wouldn’t let me go alone. I live outside a big city, which is probably more dangerous than the place I want to go to for a short trip (3 days max), and I’ve traveled there a lot alone. In fact, I used to go to college there and commuted every day.
I feel like my mom is sabotaging my dreams. No matter how much I try to convince her and provide her with good reasons, she remains inflexible and overprotective. Because I am over 18, I should not only get to make my own decisions, but I also shouldn't be treated like a kid. There are people who traveled alone at my age and even younger (someone traveled solo at 19). I want to follow my dreams to travel alone and not let others stop me. What do you have in mind?
Answer: My first solo travel was at 20. I was studying abroad and made a long weekend trip to Berlin, where I knew no one and had no reason to be there outside the pure pursuit of pleasure. Each day was more aimless than the next, a hostel in the East my only tether. I fell in with a group of Australians (talk about globetrotters), went clubbing and drank entirely too much. Hangovers were cured with kebabs, espressos in internet cafes and catnaps in the park. It was glorious.
I felt safe because, for all intents and purposes, I was. Did I put myself in potentially dangerous situations? Of course. But no more so than I would have back home. The world has a way of looking out for us when we're also looking out for ourselves. You seem well aware of this and I applaud your desire to hit the road.
Your mom is scared because she's seen things that give her pause. This includes real life experiences as well as a lot of shit she's seen on the evening news. She's a mom, and living in constant fear for your safety is part of her job. An equally important part of her job—one that she seems to be willfully ignoring—is to release you into the wild once you're grown.
As a 24-year-old, I'm not sure why your mom gets a say in your travel plans in the first place. Do you still live at home? Is she footing your remaining college expenses? You sound as afraid of defying her as she is of you traveling outside your bubble. It's up to you to take a stand.
If your mom won't listen to reason (and let's be clear—you sound like the reasonable one here), then simply don't tell her. Travel wide, travel alone and travel often. So long as you avoid DOS travel warning zones and watch out for sketchy men at bars, you'll be fine.
Word to the wise: Refrain from posting travel photos to social media. Switch your communication style from phone to email and you can stay in touch from Bora Bora without anyone being the wiser.
And should your mom find out anyhow? Well, it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.