When Friends and Family Don't Support Your Travel Dreams

How to Change Their Minds and Convince Them to be Happy For You

Travelers Seated in Terminal at Heathrow Airport
Kathleen Crislip 2006

When I first announced that I wanted to travel frequently throughout my time in college, I received a very mixed reaction from my friends. While some of them were incredibly supportive and immediately asked if they could take along, the majority of them did not agree with my decision. 

I was told that I was being irresponsible, that I was running away from my responsibilities at college. I was told that I should be staying at home to focus on my studies, or concentrate on starting a career. I was told that travel was a waste of time and money, that it wasn't safe and that I wouldn't enjoy it. I heard every single excuse for not traveling possible. 

However, despite receiving very little support, I persevered with following my travel dreams and managed to change the minds of everyone who encouraged me not to leave. If you're struggling with unsupportive friends and family, try the following: 

Explain Why You Want to Travel

A big reason for the lack of support could simply be because your friends and family don't understand why you want to travel. I was the first person in my family to ever consider long-term travel so my parents were very concerned. As soon as I explained exactly why I wanted to travel, they understood the importance of me leaving. 

Ask yourself why you want to travel and attempt to relay that to people in a calm and rational manner. For me, it was because I was happiest whenever I was exploring a brand new country. I spent every spare minute gazing at maps and reading about places I was desperate to visit. When I explained that the thing that made me happiest in the world was travel, everyone was far more understanding. 

Show Them Crime Statistics

Many people who haven't traveled believe that traveling to far away countries is extremely dangerous. Ask your parents if they'd be concerned if you spent a weekend in Chicago, and then compare the murder rate of Chicago to many large cities around the world. Hopefully, you'll be able to put their minds at ease by showing them that many countries are just as safe, if not safer, than the United States. 

Take Small Steps

Don't announce that you want to travel and then immediately leave for a month of solo travel in South America. Instead, decide to travel domestically for a few days at a time to prove to your family that you are capable of travel. You'll be showing them that you can keep safe and navigate an unfamiliar place with ease. Once they are comfortable with you traveling domestically, head to a nearby country, such as Canada or Mexico, and spend a week there. If you have no problems and your family are still relaxed, consider places that are further afield -- Europe, Southeast Asia, and, yes, South America.


If you're feeling like you're being held back by unsupportive friends and family, don't give up on your travel dreams just yet. Let them know why travel is important, show them that travel can be safe, and prove that you are fully capable of traveling with ease.