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How to Convince your Parents to Let you Travel

How do I convince my parents to let me travel? This is a question from a reader who wants to go traveling in Europe, but his parents say that he must wait another year and show good progress in school first. But the reader wants to travel sooner. What can he say to his parents [...]

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How do I convince my parents to let me travel?

This is a question from a reader who wants to go traveling in Europe, but his parents say that he must wait another year and show good progress in school first. But the reader wants to travel sooner. What can he say to his parents to allow this to happen?

Hello Kyle,

You are very correct, South Florida is a sticky web — good choice of adjectives. In my first year of travel I came aground in Boca and attended Florida Atlantic University for a semester.

I figure that there is probably one main thing that you can do to convince your parents to allow you to travel sooner: come up with a plan and do the leg work preparing. Start studying the languages and history of the places you want to travel to, and do everything you can to convince your parents that your journey will be one of “discovery and learning” rather than idle touring.

Explain that you want time to figure out what your passions and true interests are so that you do not waste time and money in university on dead end academic pursuits. Explain that traveling will give you this time and space to focus inward and to test yourself against the world around you. Explain that it is customary for young people in many cultures to take a year off — a “gap year” — between high school and university to travel, experience a little of the world, and to figure out what they really want in life.

Explain that many students go in wayward directions during their first years of university solely because they were too young when they started and did not yet have time to figure out what it was that they are passionate about — what they really want to do with themselves. Say that you are confused, misdirected, and scatterbrained from 12 years of a brow beating high school education and that you need a break to find YOUR road.

And if this fails, try to convince them that traveling is an education in and of itself. During every step of traveling you are learning, you are figuring things out for yourself, you are gaining self confidence, you are making mistakes and finding ways to make less of them in the future. In travel, there is the very real potential to grow up a little, to find your stride, and to really look down into yourself and out again at the world and figure out where your path leads.

It is my impression that traveling is the best introductory course to university. Try to combine the two — pick out a few things that you want to study in university and find ways to investigate them first hand while traveling. Say that going to the places that most people only read about will give you a huge advantage over other university students who have never traveled abroad on their own. Come up with detailed explanations of why you want to visit each location through the lens of future university study.

I recommend that you do all of this study, and then do a formal presentation for your parents. This sounds corny, but I have found that parent’s love it when their children go to great lengths to convince them of something. This may give you a great opportunity to show your parents that you can think for yourself and that you have the ability and maturity to come up with a proposal, present it in front of a group, back up your position, and make a deal. You could do it like a formal business presentation. Simply doing this could very well impress them with your business skills and show them that you do have the tact and passion to get what you want.

And tell your parents that traveling will allow you the opportunity to prepare yourself further for the road ahead.

University teaches you skill for life in the safe contours of a class room, but traveling teaches you life directly.

I have a university degree, but I learned far more about myself and the world around me from traveling. I can recommend no better education than the Open Road.

I hope this helps.

Walk Slow,


Original question about getting parent’s permission to travel

Dear Wade,

I have been wanting to hit the Road for the past couple of years but haven’t been able to escape the sitcky web of South Florida. My folks want me to attend college and get a degree in something cause they don’t want me to be “a waste.” I am going to the UK this summer with my folks for about 2 weeks but I told them I want to stay longer. Durring a little retirement planning trip they had I found out through the grapevine that they are ok with it if I put effoirt into the next 2 terms I have untill next summer. What can I say to them to help me hit the Road faster?

Peace and Blessed Be,


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Filed under: Study Abroad, Travel Help

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3723 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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8 comments… add one

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  • elsa October 10, 2009, 3:46 pm

    I have exactly the same problem with some differences.
    First of all i am a girl, second thing is that i already know where i’d like to go and how. From Galapagos island (Ecuador) to Toronto (Canada) in backpacker mode with 3 friends.
    Third thing is that i live in London at the moment and not anymore at my parents house (which makes the communication harder).
    Now.. how can i say to my italian old school parents that i’d like to travel?

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 5, 2010, 10:04 am

      Earn the money yourself and just go. Parents know that there is often little they can do to control the lives of their adult children.

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  • Hotels in Brighton October 22, 2010, 2:33 am

    The sticky web is your formal education. It must come first, as if you do start traveling and the bugs takes you. It will be the last time you see a classroom. True, if you aim to travel and make some form of living whilst on your journey you must have at a minimum your bachelor degree. DO this and you will not regret a moment of traveling.

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  • Kevin November 3, 2010, 9:09 pm

    Along with everything else that’s been said, let them know how invaluable immersion is. Although there’s a huge difference between touring a country for a couple weeks and studying there for a semester, immersion is something you can’t get in the US, especially not in a classroom (you’ve got to get out of the classroom to really learn a language)! Furthermore, there’s a certain value to traveling to new places, especially different countries, that can’t really be described. You just have to do it yourself to understand it. There are so many experiences to be had, so many sights to seen, by traveling abroad that really enrich your life in a way that’s hard to put into writing. You’ve just got to DO IT! As long as they don’t think your safety will be an issue, they shouldn’t have a problem with letting you go!

    Here’s a video you might like, basically the lesson is, just talk to ’em: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2ORC1bjYM0

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  • Danny December 2, 2010, 9:21 pm

    Firstly you do not indicate your age or if you expect your parent to pay for your holiday. Either way, they are so correct, you should finish your schooling, or alternative seek to undertake your education in another country. This may convince your parents as it meets with yours and their wishes.

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  • Simon Coleman December 26, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Firstly, as Danny says you have not given your age. There are many options, but only you know what your parents expects of you. The issue is, do you respect their wishes or follow your dream without consideration for your parents expectation.

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