Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers questions from readers in a live chat. Now she’ll be answering a few additional questions for Slate Plus members only.
Q. Guilt vs. Travel: I am a financially independent woman in my 20s. I’ve lived abroad and have traveled extensively in Europe, both on my own and with friends. I will soon have the opportunity to take several months off during a career move and have been looking forward to a self-funded, around-the-world trip (partially solo).
The problem is my parents. They will not stop harassing me about how worried they are for my safety, telling me they “won’t sleep while I’m gone” and the “world is such a dangerous place at the moment.” Prudie, I’m not planning to go to the middle of war zones—the most “exotic” places are parts of Southeast Asia and South America, typical tourist destinations!
I’m about to spend a week with them over the holidays, and I don’t know how to handle this. I really want to go on this trip, but their guilting is starting to get to me, and we’ve been arguing about it nonstop. Thoughts?
A: I’m tempted to tell you just to give them a copy of Taken, but that would almost certainly backfire.
At a certain point, you have to let them know that while you appreciate their concern, you’re taking all the normal precautions any sensible solo traveler would, and you’re not interested in hearing any more about how afraid they are of Argentina. You’re an adult who’s about to go on an exciting trip, so don’t let your parents’ vague and unnecessary fears about “the world” hold you back.
Tell them you’ll travel safely and you’ll call them when you get back to tell them what a great time you had. If they can’t let it go, tell them they’ve made their point clear but you’re not going to cancel an exciting trip because they’re unnecessarily paranoid about world travel.