Why People Object to Your Travel Goals and How to Respond

Why People Object to Your Travel Goals and How to Respond

In this heartfelt episode, Amanda Bauner explores why people might try to discourage your travel goals and how best to react to them. 

In the last episode 138, I gave the top 10 reasons to travel now. I truly believe that travel is magical, and solo travel increases that magic, partly because you learn so much about yourself.

Hans Christian Andersen once said, “To travel is to live.” And I think that is very true. I can’t imagine my life without traveling, or without my dreams of where all I want to travel still in this wonderful world of ours. Part of my mission is to not only encourage you to dream about your next travels, but to make those travel dreams and goals a reality. 

There have been some times in my life when I’ve shared my travel dreams and goals with others, and they have been less than supportive, and sometimes downright against me traveling. Have you ever had that happen? It certainly doesn’t feel good, even if you tell yourself that you’ll ignore or dismiss the naysayers and do it anyway.

I’m a big fan of not allowing anyone to dissuade you from going after your goals, travel or otherwise. So today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned over many years, through my own experiences, personal development, therapy, and self-discovery. And I’ll share some input from others as well. Yes, it’s another vulnerable sharing episode, so buckle up as we talk about why it is that people try to keep you from your goals and how best to react.

I’m talking here specifically about travel goals, but this can also be applied to any number of goals. 

There are several reasons why people may not want you to make your travel goals and dreams a reality.

They are scared of the unknown.

Many people are simply scared of the unknown. If your cousin has never been to Japan, and you are planning a trip, they may express concern and apprehension to you. You may have some friends or family who simply don’t understand why you want to sail around the world, or even why you want to take a solo trip to Walt Disney World.

Whatever it is that you’re wanting to do, they can’t relate to it, and that alone scares them. Plus, it may scare them that you have these big goals and dream to begin with, because once you make your first big dream a reality, what’s the next big goal on your list? Their minds may spiral from unfounded worry of what the future holds, which actually no one can predict. They will likely share their opinions with you, even worst-case scenarios. 

When I attended the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego in March 2023, I sat at a table with others in the travel industry. It happened to be all women, of different ages but mostly younger than me. Most of them were not entrepreneurs but instead worked for visitors bureaus or convention centers.

When we talked about how we all came alone to San Diego for this conference, nearly all of them said that their friends and family expressed concern and worry that they were going to a big city, far away from home, by themselves. Some of them had dismissed their loved ones’ concerns, while others said they had to go because it was for a work trip.

It showed me how even these travel professionals were dealing with the naysayers for traveling, doing the very thing that they are employed to encourage others to do. Wow.

They are concerned for your safety.

This is a pretty common reason why you’ll hear objections to travels, especially solo travel and especially if you’re a woman traveling alone. 

If you watch the news, then you’re likely to see a lot of reasons to be afraid out in the world. The truth is that crime can happen anywhere, and that anyone can be a criminal. Nowhere is 100% safe, but of course we can take steps to be safer. Related to that, check out my Top 10 Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

So when your aunt says you’re going to be in danger when you go to New York City, do some research. Stay at a hotel in a neighborhood that’s not too remote. Take other steps to be safe. And also, tell your aunt that you appreciate her concern and that you are prepared.

They are afraid of losing you.  

No, I don’t mean that they are afraid that you’ll die, although certainly our friends and family want us to be safe, as I just discussed. What I mean is that some people fear that their loved ones will change after traveling, and that scares them. They are afraid of losing you because you’ll be different in some way.

If they relate to you in a certain way, it could be that they don’t want to see that part of you change because it means you will be separate from them. Of course, you are separate from them, but sometimes friends and family see you as one unit and resist anything that creates differences between you. 

I knew a woman in college that took a trip to London, and on the flight, she sat next to a man. They started talking, it was a long flight. They really hit it off, and eventually they got married. Talk about a life-changing flight! She moved to England, so that travel really did create a form of separation between her and her friends and family in the U.S.

But can you imagine if she hadn’t taken that trip? She never would’ve met the love of her life!

They don’t believe they could do it themselves.  

When you share with your dad that you want to learn how to scuba dive so you can go on diving trips, and he scoffs, it may be because deep down, he doesn’t believe that he could do that. Psychologically, it’s hard for some people to believe that someone else, especially someone very close to them, can do something when they don’t believe that they could actually do it themselves.

So what do they do? They try to reason with you and tell you to be realistic. They point out all the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. 

Maybe you want to take a really long trip, so long that you are willing to take a leave of absence or even to quit your job so you can travel. I imagine that some loved ones, especially from older generations, will have a hard time understanding this. Older generations tended to work for the same company for their entire career.

Do you know anyone these days who has worked for the same company for their whole career? It’s a rarity these days. Plus, hybrid work is now here to stay for many industries, giving people more flexibility to travel as they combine both work and pleasure into trips. This is another major change from the typical 9-5 desk jobs of the past, always being in the office.

It may be challenging for people who are no longer working to understand how you’ll be able to both travel and work, or how you can safely take a break from your job, since it was never a possibility for them.

They don’t want to feel left behind.  

I think more than any other reason, this one goes along with solo travel the most. I took my first major solo vacation when I was 24 years old, to Los Angeles, California, to see Barbra Streisand in concert. I didn’t ask anyone to go with me, probably because I didn’t think anyone else would pay all that money to travel from Indiana to California to see Barbra in concert.

Also, I felt a high level of excitement and anticipation, making this big trip by myself, to a place I’d never been before. I started telling people that I was going to make this trip alone. Most people, even if they didn’t necessarily understand why it was so important to me to go (and that’s a whole other story, why I love Barbra Streisand so much), they supported me and even cheered me on, and said they were proud of me.

But a couple of people closest to me really did not want me to go. They were afraid for my safety, they said it was going to cost too much money… they had all kinds of reasons why they didn’t want me to go. But I went anyway, of course. And some time after that trip, one of those people then said to me, “How come you never asked me to go with you?” Wow.

So that’s what it was really about. I don’t even know if that person was conscious of why they were trying to get me not to go, but it became very obvious to me after they asked me that question. They didn’t want me to go without them, to leave them behind, to have this exciting experience and adventure without them.

I talked in many previous episodes about how as solo travelers, we can’t always wait for the stars to align for others to go on trips with us. Whether it’s budgets, scheduling conflicts, or other reasons, I know from experience that it can be really frustrating to put your travel dreams on hold and wait for the time to be right for others.

And also, we are not mind readers, unless you’re psychic… I know I’m not. If this person in my life had wanted to go with me, they needed to tell me that before the trip instead of telling me all these reasons I shouldn’t go that honestly really upset me. So, if someone is protesting you going somewhere, it may be because they feel left behind or want to be asked to go.

And that doesn’t mean you have to ask them to go with you, but it’s good to be aware that it’s a possibility as to why they are reacting that way.

They don’t want to be reminded of their own regrets.  

I recently shared with some loved ones my big travel goal for next year. If you missed me sharing that goal in Episode 133, my travel goal is to visit all 50 states in the US in my 50th year on this Earth, since I turn 50 in September 2025. Yes, it’s a somewhat daunting goal, but I also think it’s very doable… I am still figuring out exactly how I’ll do it, and that’s okay.

I’ve been to 32 states, and when I first share my goal, some people assume that I’m only going to the other 18 states to finish out the 50 states. No, my goal is to spend at least one night in each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., within a year. When I shared this goal with two loved ones, they immediately started pointing out why this is an impossible goal, saying it’s not logical, it’s not realistic.

I paid attention to their thought patterns as they processed this goal, and it was fascinating to watch… they each started recollecting the different states that they’ve visited, even wanting to pull out a map to add them all up. They started sharing stories from their past travels. Then they went back to how it would be much more sensible for me to just concentrate on the 18 states I haven’t yet visited, and they asked how I’m going to pay for this, how much time it will take, all those types of questions about logistics.

But as they continued to talk about their past travels, I got the sense that they were feeling some regrets about not traveling more, or traveling for work and not as much for pleasure. So I was able to feel some compassion for them, and also… I’m not going to let their doubts dissuade me from figuring out how to achieve my travel goals for next year.

Now it’s your turn to respond to the naysayers. Here are some options.

“I know what I’m doing.”

It never hurts to reassure others that you do, in fact, know what you’re doing. Whether it’s your first or fifteenth solo trip, it’s helpful to share with them how prepared you are, research you’ve done, and details about your trip. How much you choose to share is completely your call. I find it helpful to provide the emergency contact phone number when I sail on a cruise ship, for example. 

“I’m not you.”

Some people may have had bad experiences themselves traveling alone, or going to a certain area. They may be passing those fears on to you, without even realizing it. A gentle reminder to them that you are your own person, who (going back to the last point) knows what you’re doing, can help someone settle their fears. It also creates a healthy boundary, because by telling them that you are not them, you are showing that you are unwilling to take on their fears and doubts that they are trying to transfer to you.

When the naysayer is objecting to you wanting to do something because deep down, they don’t believe that they could do it, here’s how I’d respond. I’d say, “I appreciate your concerns. I believe I can do this. If you can’t believe that, too, then let’s no longer discuss it.” Set the boundary. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but it’s also needed, not just to set the boundary but to then hold it.

Because often, a naysayer will try again to dissuade you, especially when the underlying belief is an inability in themselves, and for some people, that’s too painful for them to face or even to be consciously aware of. So their subconscious will keep putting doubts into their brain, and depending on their level of self-awareness and self-control, they may keep voicing those doubts to you, even after you’ve set the boundary.

If that continues to happen, then remove yourself from the conversation. If you’re in the same room, leave the room. If you’re on a phone call, hang up. Seriously. They need to respect your boundary.

“You might be right.”

My friend, Julie Voris, has great advice to deal with the naysayers in your life. It’s something that they can’t argue back against, and it’s not mean. Julie says when someone is telling you all the reasons why what you want to do won’t work, simply reply, “You might be right.” And leave it at that. Brilliant, right? Try it, it works.  

I discussed this episode topic with Julie, and she asked if I’d pass on a powerful reminder to you. Side note, if you don’t follow Julie on Instagram, you need to. Julie’s reminder is this: No one has to sign off on  your goals and dreams. They are your goals and dreams for a reason, because only you can make them come true. Others in your life have their own goals and dreams.

So remember that, you don’t need anyone’s permission to go after your goals and dreams. Thanks for that reminder, Julie. 

You do you.

I realize that, depending on who it is in your life who’s being the naysayer, it can be particularly challenging to push back. Or it may not be challenging at all to push back. Because sometimes what’s coming at you from the naysayers is not just unnecessary but ludicrous. And if what they are saying is hurtful to you, take care of yourself, first and foremost. Tell them that it’s not okay that they say those hurtful things to you. Set that hard boundary, and hold it. 

Most of the time, though, I believe that the naysayers in our lives do mean well. They are coming from a place of love and care, and they believe that they are looking out for our best interests. But they are likely also allowing their own fears and experiences affect their reactions to us.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to disregard the naysayers, take the trip, and fully enjoy yourself. You do you.

Final Thoughts

As a final thought, I challenge you to be mindful of how you react when others share their goals and dreams, travel or otherwise, with you. If you find yourself wanting to dissuade them from pursuing their goals and dreams instead of encouraging them, ask yourself why. The more we learn about ourselves, the more it benefits us and everyone else in our lives.

Resources

Read Amanda’s Top 10 Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

Follow Julie Voris on Instagram for health and fitness tips.

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