No matter what your age, telling your parents that you are leaving on a bicycle tour can be a difficult and scary task. Your parents surely care about you and worry about your safety, so when you fill them in on your plans for traveling long distances on your bicycle, your overall well-being is going to be one of the first things that pops into their minds.
I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school when I first told my parents about my plans of cycling down the California coastline. As you can imagine, they were less than thrilled. They probably thought I was crazy… and I know they were hoping I would forget about the idea in a couple months. But I didn’t forget about the idea! In fact, my dreams of cycling from Oregon to Mexico became that much stronger as the months progressed.
So how did I go about convincing my parents that I could not only make my bicycle tour happen, but also convince them that the ride would be a good idea? And how can you do the same?
The following are five easy things that you can do to help convince you parents that your bicycle tour will be both safe and rewarding:
Do Your Research: Before you even mention to your parents that you are planning a bike tour, do your research. If there is a book about the route you plan to take, buy the book, read it, and plot out your journey on a map. Cruise the Internet and find out as much information as you can about the places you will be cycling through. As you are researching, think about any objections your parents might have and then do your best to combat those objections with physical facts and testimonials.
One of the biggest concerns for many parents is where you are going to be sleeping each night. If this is your first bicycle tour, don’t tell your parents that you are going to be rolling off into the woods and stealth camping. Instead, it is a good idea to map out your route in complete detail and present your parents with an itinerary and schedule of campgrounds, hotels, or other accommodations in which you will be staying during your tour. This can take a lot of work, but it is often times the one thing that parents need in order to feel comfortable with the idea of letting you go out on your own and travel the world by bike.
Find Someone Who Has Done The Same Or Similar Route: If you can find someone who has traveled the same or similar route that you plan to ride, this is one of the best things to use to your advantage.
In my case, I used my Uncle Tom who had just returned from a bicycle tour in Ireland. I had him come up to my house and talk to my parents about the practicality of my ride. He was able to convince my parents that not only was the ride possible, but that it would likely be a life changing event for me as a young adult. Boy was he right!
If you can’t find a physical person to talk to your parents for you, try and find someone on the Internet to talk to. One way to do this is to scan the journals at CrazyGuyOnABike.com. Find someone who has traveled a route similar to the one you plan to ride and drill them for information. Even if you can’t get a hold of them via email or phone, at least look at what they’ve written and present that material to your parents when you do finally make your case.
Another approach you might take is to use the website, articles, and interviews here at BicycleTouringPro.com as a way of convincing your parents that your bicycle tour is a good idea. Many young riders have written to me saying that this website alone was the biggest help in convincing their parents that their plans for a bicycle tour were a good idea. Get your parents on this website and let them look at the information I’ve made available. As always, you’re welcome to email me and I will do my best to help in any way that I can.
Take A Test Ride: If you and/or your parents are unsure as to whether you have the physical and mental stamina needed for a long distance bike tour, a test ride might be in order. Before my first bicycle tour in 2001, I did two short three-day test rides down the California coastline. These short rides helped me to figure out what kind of gear I would need, how much research I needed to do before I left home, and what I should expect while out on the road.
If your parents don’t think you can do a long distance tour, challenge them to let you do a short test ride and prove your ability. If you can ride for a week straight, then you can surely ride for a month or more!
Be Prepared: An important part of presenting your case to your parents is being prepared. I already talked about doing your research, but you also need to be prepared physically, mentally, and financially.
If you are completely out of shape and you tell your parents that you want to spend two or more months on your bicycle, they aren’t going to think you can do it! Before you even make your case to your parents, get yourself in shape (or at least start working on it). I don’t think it is necessary to join a gym in most cases. Instead, just get out on your bicycle and ride! Cycling is the best thing you can do to prepare your body for the demands of a long distance bicycle tour.
Secondly, you need to be mentally prepared for the road ahead. Much of this has to do with your planning and research, but more importantly, you have to believe that you are capable of completing the task ahead of you (I’ll talk about this more in just a second).
Finally, you need to be able to convince your parents that you have the equipment and funds necessary to make your bicycle tour a reality. If you don’t have the gear or money needed to make your trip happen, you need to come up with a plan before you approach your parents. You don’t need a lot of money for bicycle touring… and you don’t need the best gear in the world. But there is a certain level of equipment and funds that you should have before presenting your case to the parental units.
Believe In Yourself: Lastly, you need to believe in yourself. You’ve likely been dreaming of a bicycle tour for some time and you know it’s something you’d like to do, but do you REALLY BELIEVE that you can do it? Because you have to believe! YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
For many people, if their friends or family start to criticize their dreams or tell them that they are unable to do what they’ve set out to do, they become complacent and bend to the wishes of those around them. When some people are told that they can’t do something, they suddenly start thinking, “Maybe they’re right? Maybe I can’t do it?” I’m telling you now… you can’t be one of those people!
If you are planning a bicycle tour and are worried about what your parents might think or say when you tell them about your plans, you’ve got to get over this! You have to wholeheartedly believe that you are going to make your bicycle tour happen. If you don’t believe in yourself and your own abilities, then your parents are going to have a hard time believing in you as well.
So, that’s it! Those are my five little tips for getting your parents’ permission to do a bicycle tour. If you have any other ideas on how to convince your parents that a bicycle tour is not only possible, but a good idea, please use the comments box below to submit and share your ideas with other BicycleTouringPro.com readers.