Iceland was one of those trips I set my mind to and willed company to follow. Thankfully, my brother was up for a very different kind of trip than his usual beach or city visit. And his daughter, my 8 year-old (now 9) niece. And finally my colleague and co-advisor from TGS. Somehow, our crew came together… different age groups, some strangers at first, novice and experienced travelers… and what transpired was truly enjoyable.Read More
My choice to stop traveling with TGS comes with a big implication: I will no longer be nomadic. Perhaps you might call it "settling down." I've always hated this concept because of what it implied: that I'm accepting a less desirable fate, pausing the whirlwind of my twenties and letting the dust settle in my thirties, that I'm hanging up my backpack and passport for good. I don't think any of these are the case.
Cover image by Ina B.Read More
Sometimes when I'm home, I turn the camera on my family. They like to cheese it up in photos, but when their cheek muscles relax a bit and they get into their element, you can see the real smiles emerge.Read More
It could also be because this is the first foreign country in a while where I can feel a deeper sense of belonging. In China, Ecuador, and Thailand, I felt like a visitor and often an unwelcome one, regardless of my language acquisition or the warm hospitality received. Though I still get some awful stares for breaking j-walking and cycling unspoken norms, I don't have the sense of being an intruder in Germany.Read More
Q&A is a series that uses questions posed by readers and commentators to address topics of travel, alternative lifestyle design, blogging, and other interests. You can expect to see this series one or two Saturdays a month right here on Nomadderwhere.com. To send in your questions, contact me! This summer I was planning on doing a study abroad program, and now I'm waiting to hear back for responses.
I love how you encourage going somewhere if that's of utmost desire. I would die to do something like that, but how do parental worries factor into that?
Not to intrude, but do you happen to have lax parents who are chill with that? -Natalia
That's funny. You're funny, Natalia.
When it comes to my travels, my parents started off as anything but go-with-the-flow kind of people. It was very hard for my mom to come to terms with my travel desires, and she barely slept when I took off on my own in Vietnam (my first time solo in a foreign city).
Why All The Fear?
I've got all sorts of dramatic stories of parting from my parents for the road. And from the sounds of those stories, I seem like a terrible offspring - leaving my mother on her birthday for the next 187 days. I think parents really dread those moments of departure, feeling the weight of the lonely and troubled days in-between your safe arrival home. Of course, it's not without due cause - and, heck, I'm no parent - but I do think that's normal and temporary.
All parents are skeptical at first, fear the worst constantly, but eventually get used to you going solo the more you come back with reassuring statements about your experience. It's normal to want to take their fears into strong consideration, but my advice is to do your research yourself and not listen only to what your parents are concerned about from news and media exposure, as well as comments from their friends. Not everyone travels or sees the world the same way. Talk to other travelers who move and see the world the same way you do, and read books about the place; that will tell you whether you should be worried or not about your experience in a destination.
Curb Their Lack of Enthusiasm
Be sure to include your parents' concerns into your evaluation of future travels - doing otherwise will make you seem rebellious or immature - and be sure to follow it up with all the solid facts, research, and advice from experienced travelers/writers. The more they know you have your head on straight, the more they will trust your intuition as you fly solo.
It's also important to think about your track record and how it relates to your street smarts, travel savvy, and ability to take care of yourself. Your parents will probably always see you as a green 16 year-old, but as long as you've proven in the past you're not easily pushed over or taken advantage of, you can reason with them that you're prepared for what the world is ready to throw at you.
My parents still aren't cheerleaders for my non-professional travels, but at least they understand that I want to do it. When I had doubts about traveling around the world alone in 2008, my mom was surprisingly the voice that encouraged me to do what I want, which was against what she wanted for me. They tolerate my leisure travels these days, but my paid travel makes much more sense. It's a generational thing, as well.
Communication Makes the Difference
As a graduation present, my parents were kind enough to get me a World Edition Blackberry, which enabled constant communication via e-mail to my parents from wherever I was in the world - excluding Malawi, Cambodia, Kashmir, and Zambia, which weren't set up at the time for data usage.
While overlanding in Africa, I would wake up to the alarm on my phone and immediately receive an e-mail from my mom about the weather outside my tent flap. She was six hours behind me but still knew the weather I would experience that morning. This was certainly a way to placate her worries, because when I didn't respond to her e-mails for twelve days in a row (in Kashmir), nerves nearly sent my dad on a plane to find me.
It may be inconvenient to pay a phone bill or constantly find internet cafes to correspond from, but a quick e-mail affirming your happiness and safety are great ways to facilitate your parents' sleeping patterns.
A Mother's Perspective
It seemed only fitting to ask my mother her opinion on my travels, safety, and her feelings toward my independent travel lifestyle.
The summer before I entered sixth grade, I asked my parents if I could attend a military camp an hour north of our town, a camp my brother attended the previous two summers. Though his camp sessions were only two weeks at a time, I decided I wanted to experience the six week, intensive summer camp, which involved three different sessions of learning new skills, bunking with fifteen other girls in a log cabin, and all things military: general inspections, personal inspections, marching, etc. I went to this camp knowing no one previously.
Most ten year-olds don't normally ask for such experiences, and my mom noted this as major characteristic difference between myself and my peers. My independence was obvious at a young age.
When I wanted to travel alone for seven months through dangerous African cities and over-populated, crime-ridden regions in Asia, my mom was unnerved but also comforted by looking at my track record. According to her, I had proven myself, through my voluntary college responsibilities, multiple situations that exhibited my leadership, my friend choices, previous trip motivations, and a track record of wise decisions in life.
I've always been a passionate person, but that didn't stop me from analyzing my decisions carefully in the context of my life. Because I conducted myself well in high school, used my free time thoughtfully, dealt well with other people, I seemed like I could handle the road.
One thing that made my travels much easier on my parents, especially my mom, was the steady progression of my trips from easy to advanced: family trips, solo domestic trips, static study abroads, global study abroad, and finally solo global travel. I was weened slowly from my bubble life in northern Indiana and given the gift of time to slowly make mistakes and learn from them.
To the hopeful world travelers in easing parental worries:
Showed maturity in what you do with your time and the people you chose to be with.
To the freaked out parents/mothers of world travelers:
We all want the best for our children and for them to do what makes them happy. If what they do to make themselves happy doesn't do the same for you, know the strong character they've always exhibited will carry over to the streets of India and help them deal with the world they encounter (hopefully they've researched!).
And don't believe, for one second, that one trip will get the bug out of their system. It never leaves their system. Trust your child, and don't make yourself sick. Bad things can happen anywhere. Living in fear is a choice.
The Bottom Line
We can't force our parents to feel the same way we do about the world and traveling through it. If it matters to you how your parents and family feel about your travels, approach the idea of changing their minds with as much fact, reason, and sensitivity as you can gather. Parents know better than anyone that college isn't the end of the learning experience. Hopefully we are all striving to be lifelong learners, and the fast track to learning is often located far from anyone's comfort zone.
World travelers aren't running from family, they're pulled by two worlds, both of which can't be ignored. To deny the movement impulse would be just as difficult as disregarding the friends and family that make us solid. Parents, we're going to be okay, and travelers...be sure you remain okay. People are hoping you come back home.
Was this post helpful to you as a traveler or as a parent? Do you have any comments or anything to add? Please don't hesitate to comment below or contact me personally!
My mother, Margie - I've certainly put her through a lot, especially in these last four years:
Seemingly disappearing for 12 days in India because I didn't want to tell her where I was going...ya know, so she wouldn't worry
And probably the worst, taking off to Fiji while Grandma battled one mean bout of throat cancer
Mom has had a hard year, probably the hardest of her existence, watching her own mother deal with a fate arguably worse than death.
Losing the Matriarch
While I was lounging in a Delhi hotel room on the World Traveler Internship, Mom told me via Skype the dentist had found cancer under her tooth. As I literally watched shooting stars over Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania from my tent, Grandma Evelyn was being wheeled out of a surgery that tested the limits of human strength to recover from. And while Mom learned of her nearly certain fatal situation, she still supported my desire to go to Fiji and implement a humanitarian project.
Having been paired with my father since she was 15, I often wonder how it's possible for her to understand my desire and need to be alone, to travel the far corners of the world without anyone at my side, to be comfortable in near squalor altogether. It certainly wasn't an easy realization to come to, as I was firmly encouraged to correspond constantly on my Big Journey via Blackberry.
However, on this last trip to the South Pacific, my mother surprised me with her understanding of my desires, my abilities to survive completely out of her arm's reach, and my competency in dissolving extreme issues with differing minds. When Garrett returned early from Fiji, he had a long talk with my mom over the phone and reported back that even in the wake of our ridiculous stories, she knew I could handle myself and trusted I'd be okay (without even a hint of her normal "Ooohhh, Lindsaaaaay" sigh and stress-induced headache).
Whether she listened to history and assumed everything would turn out fine or our issues were relatively trivial in comparison to Grandma's, Mom proved to me that even though she'd rather I stay stateside and safe, she knows if I must pull my global stunts, I will...and it will be okay.
And what was most surprising from this shift was the timing of it all. Though I did plan the Fiji experience around what we thought would be Grandma's easiest battle through chemo and radiation, the status of her health and aggressive cancer affirmed the entire war would be a tough one to weather and even witness. Mom wanted me to be around for it all, even though Grandma (in her classic understating tone) told me it was fine to go and even miss her funeral (since she wouldn't be there to miss me anyway).
Grandma was selfless, and so is Mom, and I see this hereditary link now more than ever in the hindsight of this winter (thought not as if I didn't realize this before).
The Parental Support of a Nomad
I get a lot of messages from young travelers worried about their parents' impressions of their journeys, and they wonder, "How do your parents deal with you being alone and all over the place?" Though they're not dropkicking me out the front door (nicely, that is), my parents certainly have proven to be understanding of my insatiable and sometimes indescribable desire to move. Fear is always a factor, but as I continue to show more maturity in my reasons for travel, they continue to feel more comfortable with my choices, especially since I've managed to survive this long.
All kids make great stress inducers for their parents in some fashion, and those of us who like the road can certainly create extreme moments of fear on a daily basis. But the road to gaining understanding and support from a worried parent isn't very long at all.
My mom was actually the one who nudged me toward taking my Big Journey, against her own wishes to have me close by. She knew I wanted and needed the experience. She allowed me to be selfish and traipse around the Earth, while she woke up early to check and e-mail me the weather of my destination before I even arose.
On this Mother's Day, I wanted to say thank you, Mom, for understanding, even in the midst of your hardest hour. I think you'll fill the shoes of the Matriarch to the tippy toe.
I'm very happy to report Nomadderwhere has come a long way since this time last year, when I moved from a simple blogspot to a bonafide domain of my own. Since that time I've changed my writing style and topics, grown a readership of surprisingly many (thanks to you), won the most amazing internship known to man, and turned this online outlet for my travel thoughts and work into something that may one day sustain me. For those of you just stopping by for the first time, this is probably the best post at which to start. According to my stats and Google analytics, these are the top posts for Nomadderwhere.
...I didn’t study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you’re new at this, like I was, don’t worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos...Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.
...I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria. Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn’t get old...
...But he found more appeal in living with 100+ kids in a country he had no ties to. He wanted to move people and make physical and emotional necessities available to anyone. With that desire and an experience such as the one he had at Palm Tree, his life work was destined to be hugely impacting and awe-inspiring, and I'm so sorry we don't get to witness his next steps.But he passed with people who loved him and he loved in return, in his sleep on the beach in Cambodia...
...The Greek and Italian languages are nothing alike There’s no avoiding cigarette smoke in Greece…It’s everywhere In Greece, the party starts well after midnight and can continue into brunch time The water really is that blue...
...For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning...
...Nomadderwhere is a philosophy: it doesn't matter where you are, it matters that you're always learning and flexing with your surroundings, whether you're traveling or stationary. To capture this idea is to capture the art of travel, to know the importance of movement and to become self-aware...because you are the only constant in your world...
...“So I know we agreed on 40 rupees to the Siliguri bus station, but I know you’re going to forget this deal, even though I wrote the fare down on my hand. I’m really hoping you’re an honest and swell guy who claims he has change when he really does.” With this sort of dialogue, it’s all about tone and appearance. Speak kindly and smile the entire time. It doesn’t work any other way. And a word from experience: the more you make them laugh, the better the fare becomes...
...Since I returned from a round-the-world trip on August 17th, I’ve done very little besides sit in front of screens – computer, TV, what-have-you. I seldom leave home or drive my car unless it’s purely necessary. Rarely do I step outside if not to summon my cat in at twilight, and the most exercise I get comes from group fitness classes at the gym down the street. I spent one weekend in northern Indiana with my best friends eating guacamole and floating on one long raft around Lake Tippicanoe, but that certainly can’t be all the excitement I can handle over a two month period. Why do I not carpe the diem when I’m not traveling?...
...What was certainly magnified by Krakauer's text was the reality that we humans harbor primordial desires, and it's on a sliding scale how much we allow these feelings to be heard and acted upon. It is my belief that travelers, adventurers, nomads and those hopeful to detach from the man-made structure of modern civilization are more responsive to those "calls of the wild." Unconventional living forces a constant reevaluation of one's life [and one's mortality], and when we are closer in mindset to our own expiration, it seems we connect closer to the motivations of our primitive ancestors...
...Within the open ocean is a sea of 60-40 couples, incredibly perky cougars on the prowl, families with seven year-old twins and recent divorcees taking back their lives, not to mention a slew of Rascals scooting about. Of course, every cruise liner caters to a different demographic, which accounts for the vast differences among the commercial cruising fleets, but what they all share is the sense of ease that, in the mind of a “bare-bones” traveler, strips the so-called adventure down to physical displacement and cognitive retirement, which is in many cases the whole point...
...I work in an environment where people are stuck in one mindset. The monotony of everyday life can suck you in and but also give you the comfort of stability. I want to stimulate my mind and mix things up. My entire senior year of college I saved for my trip to Europe, and everyday I think back to the crazy things I did and the knowledge that I gathered and feel proud. Being young and having a flexible (and seasonal) job is a plus. So spending my money on travel is why it’s there...
...L: “I found an amazing flight deal I want to look further into. If the price is right, would you consider dropping the road trip idea and heading to Fiji to live in a village? We could do our own thing there, use our skills to start some effort from scratch, and I know we’re already invited and welcome to be there. I talked to them a week ago.” G: “Wow, Linz, you’re turnin’ the tables on me! This could be such a huge opportunity. Let me think it over…(30 minutes later)...I am completely, 100% behind this idea...
...We landed perfectly, a few steps to a complete standing stop, and I yelled my amazement to all the men at the bottom who hear these exclamations every day. And that was it. I jumped out of a plane. Nuts. Simply nuts...
STA asked me to make an introduction video. This is what my mind conjures up...
Do you get me now? Really? You need more than my brother's open-mouthed smile to know my true essence? Well, don't worry. This is just the tip of the creative iceberg.