All travel has a lot of moving parts (pun intended). For you, the traveler, you have thought a lot about where you are going, what you will be doing and when you will be doing it. You’ve no doubt committed a lot of time and thought into the decisions around your travel and you understand the rationale which informed these decisions. However, for every detail you’ve decided, there are likely to be a number of questions which others might ask. This begs the question, “what should you tell others before you travel?”
The most inquisitive and interested folks in all things regarding your whereabouts is likely to be your family.
So, how do you keep your family informed without making them overly concerned for you and without driving yourself crazy in the process? Below are my principals, but I would love to read your comments with words of wisdom or stories of the experiences you’ve learned from. You can also message me directly at @judsonlmoore.
1. Your Schedule
Once you know where you are going and when you will be there, you should share that information with your family as early before you travel as possible. I also advocate for sharing international travel information with the US State Department (or your own foreign ministry) so that they can send you travel alerts and more easily assist you in the event of a crisis.
2. Tracking Your Progress
Maybe you’re going to post on Facebook or Twitter every day, or maybe not, depending on internet access and your desire to disconnect. Letting your family know how they can follow your adventure will help them feel more connected to your experience and also make your travel stories come alive when you return home and share. You should also consider location tracking apps like the Find My Friends App (iOS and Android) so that your family can see at a click of a button where you are. This is also fantastic data to have shared in the event of an emergency. The bottom line is this: before you travel, set the expectations others should have about when they will hear from you next.
3. Travel Companions
Traveling with someone? It’s your family’s job to be concerned for you, so relax their worries by letting them know who you will be with. Traveling solo? Then let them know that you understand how to stay safe and that you have researched the places where you are headed well before your travel.
4. Health Update
Good health is easy to take for granted. To stay healthy, keep your immunizations up to date and check the CDC website for any health related considerations you need to prepare for before you travel. It’s also good to save a list of JCI Accredited Hospitals in the places where you will be visiting. If you take prescription medications, carry copies of the prescription in case you need to get a refill while away from your doctor. At the end of all that preparation, let your family know that you’re all up to date and share backup documentation with them in case you need it later.
5. Backup Documents
Before you travel, it is always good to entrust someone with copies of your medical records, passport, birth certificate and anything else which you may need to replace your passport or to give to medical professionals if you are unable to do so yourself. My mother has a friend who accidentally put her passport and visa through the laundry the day before she was to cross a border and fly home. Her parents had to fax information to the US embassy overnight so she could get home. It happens to the best of us, so do your part to be prepared before you travel.
6. In Case of Emergency
Travel comes at a risk, but then again so does crossing the street to get coffee. Emergencies can happen at any time and for any number of uncontrollable reasons. The only thing you can truly control is your level or preparedness. If you have any sort of detailed emergency response plan (like I had in the Peace Corps), then make sure your family has access to all of that information before you travel.
7. Don’t Worry
Travel is like a roller coaster in that though it may come with its ups and downs, millions of people travel every day and never experience any type of problem or emergency. By taking the steps I’ve listed in this article and by affirming to your family that every thing will be fine before you travel, you will go a long way in getting them (and you) to live stress-free while you are out on your grand adventure!
8. I Love You
Always tell your family that you love them. It can never be said enough and it is always the best last words that your family can hear from you, until they hear from you again!
And now I would love to hear from you! Please comment below with your experience communicating with your family about travel. What concerns did they have? What made them excited? How did you handle telling them your plans? I am excited to engage with you on this topic! You can also message me at @judsonlmoore.