Have you ever made an overseas trip by yourself? If so, do you remember whether or not you were stressed out, or even whether or not your family and friends freaked out? I made my first trip this summer. To be completely honest, I hadn’t even had the time to stress out about it. For some reason this resulted in me being pretty relaxed all the way trough. This wasn’t the case for my mom though, or my cousin.. or my boss.. Ok let me explain.
It wasn’t like my parents didn’t know I was going to travel, I mean, I had been talking about it for quite some time (read years!). I had made up my mind that I was going to make a short trip of approximately 3 weeks and felt like they knew. For some reason though, the actual booking of the flights happened rather quickly as I was talking to my friend Laura who had travelled to Singapore and Malaysia the year before, and I got so excited that I just went and booked the flights. To tell my parents I send them each a picture of the booking, and after explaining what the picture was, they seemed excited for me. (Tip 1: don’t follow my lead, tell your parents everything BEFORE booking to ease them into it and make them feel like part of the decision.)
I first noticed someone being worried when my cousin, who was like an older sister to me, asked my mom why the ** she would let me go to Asia by myself. I thought my mom’s response was rather funny when she told my cousin: “I didn’t let her do anything, she had already booked her flights when she told me!”. I thought it was a joke that she said it in a dramatic tone of voice back then.
My boss, who is the sweetest caring lady, freaked out even more. She told me weeks before she already had trouble sleeping over it and made me promise to send her updates VERY regularly. She wasn’t the only one who worried. I work in a local bar and all the regular customers as well as my friends and mom started to ask me what my plans where. I don’t mean they asked me once, they started asking me about every other day and got more and more frustrated about my answer being “I don’t have a plan yet”.
To be honest, I only added the yet so they would stop lecturing me about needing a plan. At that time I wasn’t even spending time worrying about my trip. I was in my exam period and working 2 jobs which added up to more than 40 workhours next to school. And honestly, most backpackers go without a plan right? (right??).
My relaxed attitude did not work for my mom. One evening, about a week before my trip, she cornered me when I went over for dinner. She made me book a hostel for my first night in Singapore and made me go buy a backpack with her the next day. (Tip2: Don’t just go to the first cheap store and buy a backpack like I did at first, to regret it later when I went into a bit more specialized store and found a backpack that suited me way better.)
For some reason I still wasn’t worried about it. I started collecting the rest of the stuff I needed the day before I left. On the day itself, my best friend came over a couple of hours before I had to leave, only to find me relaxed on the couch with nothing packed and still in need of some small things like travel shampoo. She looked at me rather annoyed and made me get into her car immediately to collect these last items.
When we got home 1,5 hours before I had to leave and I told her I still had to shower and finish my packing list, she looked at me angrily and started stressing out and ranting at me. Meanwhile I sat on the floor, laughing at her, when she finally yelled, OK! Daan, (which is her nickname for me) stop stressing out! We started laughing together, because clearly I wasn’t stressed at all and that was exactly what made her so stressed. She almost chased me into the shower while she started checking if I had everything to put in my backpack. When I got out she told me she was going to leave because it made her stressed that I was still so relaxed. No worries though, I finished packing in time to leave and didn’t forget anything.
My mom and one of her good friends drove me to the airport. We were way too early, so we had time to sit down and drink a diet coke after checking in. You should know, I’m not big on emotional dramatic scenes, so while we were sitting there I suddenly decided I was ready to leave. I got up told my mom it was time for me to go, hugged her and left. At that time, I didn’t even realize my mom could be nervous to see me go, or might have wanted to go with me as far as she could have.
I even made a group chat on WhatsApp called ‘Danielle is ok’ with all the people in it that were worried (including my parents, cousins and boss ) and send them updates almost every day (they would remind me if I hadn’t said anything over 24 hours). (Tip 3: making a group app makes it really easy to let everyone know you are ok at once, so it doesn’t feel like such a burden to update your home front. Also, the people in my group chat later told me they loved getting my pictures all the time and it made them feel included.)
The first time I noticed my dad was worried wasn’t in this group though. I had to hear from my friend who talked to him in the local pub where they both went quizzing that he was a bit anxious for me. Noticing my mom was nervous was even harder, she was really good at hiding it from me.
I had already returned home late at August 10th. The day after, August 11th, was my birthday and I had made an appointment with my nail salon in the morning. I texted my mom if she was home, because I left my keys and car at her place when she took me to the airport. Just so you know, the nail salon is about a 10 minute walk from my mom’s house, and she usually would have laughed at the idea of picking me up. This time, she offered to pick me up herself. Still, I thought that she was just excited to see me because of my birthday, but that changed pretty quickly when I exited the salon to see my mom on the middle of the street. You should know, my mom isn’t the big emotional crier either. So when I saw her standing there on the middle of the street (which was quite strange by itself) crying, I was astonished. She turned out to be a good liar, convincing me she completely trusted me to travel alone.
The conclusion of my story, is that even when you don’t think going by yourself is a big deal, a lot of people around you are going to see it differently. If you have people who care about you, they are going to be worried. It doesn’t mean they don’t support you. My family completely supported me, and was proud of me doing what I loved. I guess they will always be a bit freaked out when I will go somewhere, but that’s fine, it’s called love. I’m grateful to all my friends and family who felt a bit worried. And to be honest, I kind of loved it to hear my friend tell me my dad was a bit anxious. I thought it was the sweetest thing ever.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to leave any feedback, as this is the first blogpost I have ever written. Also, has anyone else ever experienced something related to this? I would love to hear someone else’s stories as well, so feel free to comment and share!