Afraid To Tell Your Friends and Family You Want To Live Abroad Or Travel For A Year?

How to handle naysayers and energy-vampires when you want to travel long term

If you have your heart set on moving abroad or travelling around the world  for a few months,  a year or more, I need to warn you.

You’re friends, relatives and co-workers could be the first in line to tell you that you are making THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIFE! 

So how do you handle naysayers and energy vampires? 


First, congratulation! You are part of a very unique group.

There are hundreds of possible reasons why you want to take a break from your everyday life to travel or live abroad.

Whether it’s to reconnect with your Vietnamese or Scottish heritage, go back to school, write a book, start an Internet business or spend a year in France like us just because you can, YOU all have one thing in common.

YOU want more out of life. More than a nice set of dishes and a big house. More than a 2 week vacation. You want to do something BIG and less common while travelling or living abroad.

Some people call it a Gap year, or life sabbatical. This concept is nothing new. It’s been going on for ages but it’s been gaining more and more popularity around the world. 

It’s exciting and I bet you can’t wait to get started on your journey and tell everyone right?

I Have Some Bad News

Don’t kid yourself. Just because you see unicorns and rainbows on the other side of you plans, not everyone will be cracking open the champagne for you.

Some will see your plans as somewhat radical and maybe even subversive.

Don’t get me wrong, some people will be supportive. Just be prepared for push back from your naysayers who will try to point out all the reasons why you SHOULD NOT leave your life behind even for only a year.

The Naysayers and Energy Vampires.

  • Maybe it’s a loving friend or relative who says what they need to say to protect you from what they think is a big mistake.
  • Maybe it’s a co-worker who wishes they could do what you want to do but has convinced themselves that they can’t and therefore think you shouldn’t either.
  • Maybe is’t a parent or sibling who thinks you are being selfish by leaving them to travel thousands of miles away..

It’s ok. It’s their job to talk you out of it.

Whoever it is, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It’s only natural for them to voice their concerns. After all, you are leaving the safety of your established life behind to do something that seems out of character and even risky.

If you really want to keep the waters calm and also pursue your dream of travel then you need to learn to deal with them because their negativity can literally suck the life out of your plans leaving you with nothing but a deflated dream and full of regret. 

So today, I am going to share 10 tactful ways that I have personally used to handle Naysayers or as I like to call them “Energy Vampires” . READY?

10 Tactful Ways: How to Deal With Naysayers & Energy Vampires

1-Make Them Feel Heard: Listen

The first thing you should do when someone questions your decision or ideas is LISTEN. Chances are they are just concerned. It will not only make them feel heard but they might actually bring up a good point that you hadn’t thought of.

2-Don’t Argue

Arguments are draining and take the focus away from your main objective and goals. Instead smile, nod your head, thank them for their thoughtful input just don’t argue.

3-Let Them Go: Disengage: Avoid

Some people will not be satisfied with the fact that you won’t argue with them. These sneaky naysayers might even resort to criticizing you in non constructive ways by making you feel bad or calling you names. If you encounter this type of person and discussion just excuse yourself from the conversation. In extreme cases you may need to avoid the person all together.

4-Don’t React

Never react or show anger. If you do not react to their naysaying ways, than they have no power over you. The best you can do is agree to disagree and walk away. See point number 3 about disengaging.

5-Protect And Safeguard Your Plans

What would happen if you created a beautiful ice sculpture and left it out in the sun? It would melt right? Think of your goals and dreams to move abroad as a beautiful ice sculpture. If you tell everyone about your plans at once it can be like exposing your ice sculpture to the direct sunlight.

Instead, assume you will get a lot of negative feedback and be selective who you tell.

6-Change The Subject

This doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try. Just change the subject. It may work best with co-workers but not so well with someone very close to you like your siblings or parents.

7-Refuse Money and Help

If you are living under your parents roof, if someone is supporting you or helping you then chances are they might feel like they have a say in what you do with your life.  You have two choices,

  1. keep accepting their help: You may be obliged to listen to them.
  2. Stop accepting their help: Yes it will be scary but if you really want to do something and someone is not willing to support your ideas then maybe it’s time you show you can take care of yourself.

8-Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Have you ever felt drained of energy but after a good nap or a good nights rest you feel a renewed sense of energy like you can do anything?  Surrounding yourself with positive people or people with the same goals as you is like that. Just like negative people can suck your dreams dry. Positive people can fuel your ideas.

If you can’t find anyone around you then go online to find people. Look for groups, associations and forums where people like you hang out. Contact them and start interacting with them.

9. Let It Fuel You!

I have no idea why this works but when I have an idea or want to do something and someone tells me I can’t or shouldn’t do it I get a fire in my belly that drives me. It gives me so much satisfaction to prove someone that I can do something especially after they tell me I can’t. Maybe it has something to do with overcoming challenges. Whatever the reason, negativity as a fuel rather than a deterrent is a great way to look at naysayers and energy vampires.

10. Ask Them To Help You

What if you just straight out asked someone to help you accomplish your dream of living abroad?  It doesn’t have to be monetarily although that would be nice wouldn’t it?   Let them know how much it means to you. If they respect you and your good judgment than they might just help you. It’s not forever right?  It may even give them the satisfaction to see that you are making the right choices. Once they are involved, they have a vested interest in your success.

Conclusion:

Just accept the facts: If you are going to do something “DIFFERENT”, something a little less safe then expect the people around you to chime in and try to change your mind.

I truly believe that if you have a dream, something that could potentially bring you a lot of satisfaction, happiness and success, you shouldn’t let naysayers stop you.

Good Luck!

Tell me your naysayer experience below in the comments

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About the Author

Annie André was born in Thailand to a Thai mother and French Canadian father. She knew from an early age that she was meant to experience the world first hand. By the time she was 23, she had visited over 20 countries including a 3 year stint in Japan. Currently she lives in the south of France with her husband Blake and three children who attend French schools.

Meg

My mom has hesitations about me traveling, so much so that we are not even talking. I need to send her an email but I am at a loss of words. This has helped, thanks for sharing these tips and ideas.
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    Annie Andre

    Oh Megan i’m so sorry. That is really rough.I can understand this from both your situation and your mums point of view.
    My father had the same reaction when i left at 18 to travel the world.. Even now i had a little resistance from people.

    I would definitely call your mom or email her and in the least you can say that you are going to do this no matter what and that you would like to have her support. I don’t think any amount of convincing is going to change her mind. Hopefully she can come to terms with it. Just remember don’t argue. It ends ugly if you do.. But i think you may already know this.
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Alan

Hey Annie,

I love the way you laid this one out and it applies to lots of things worth doing.

I had a similar story when I quit my job to spend a year in the countryside before moving to France (in the end our plans have changed to be even more flexible & location independent but our plan was exactly what you mention above).

When I quit my (high paying) job people thought I was crazy. They still do. But I kind of like crazy.

A couple of points I want to add to your post above which were the main factors for my decision (which actually came 2 years earlier than originally planned in the end):

I knew I had to do it because if I never tried I would never know – this was huge for me.

I am of the opinion that when something is worth doing, noise around you increases (there’s a crabs in a bucket and an experiment involving monkeys in a pit lurking in the back of my mind on this point).

I’ve had to adjust lots along the way but it’s definitely been worth it.

I now look at money in a completely different way too – but maybe that’s just me,

great post Annie,
Alan
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    Annie Andre

    Alan, i can already imaging what people must have thought when you quit your high paying job. Something you said really struck me was that you had to do it because if you never tried you would never know. That thought alone used to eat me up inside. It’s a feeling that would NOT go away and you just know against all else you have to do it. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
    I also look at money in a whole new way. But for me, i don’t need masses of it anymore.

    always love your feedback..Alan.. Chat later.

Dan Sumner

Hey Annie,

Every time I read your posts I want to move away for a year or two.

I personally would love to give it a shot, but unfortunately, I fear my wife doesn’t share the same adventure or maybe she is just afraid of the unknown.

I would like to approach it when Sam (baby boy) is a little older and more independent.

Your tips don’t just apply to traveling either Annie, they are very useful for a lot of situations when fighting the naysayers.

Thanks for sharing Annie much appreciated.

Have a great week and coming Easter :-D

Dan
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    Annie Andre

    Hi Dan,
    you already live in a fantastic place so it’s like you are on a life vacation..

    Your comment actually brings up a good point. What do you do when your spouse doesn’t want to live abroad or travel and YOU DO?

    I’m lucky my husband wanted to live abroad but we almost didn’t do it, he being more practical than I, it took a little convincing. This requires a little more research. thanks for the idea though on a future post..

Adrienne

Oh, this can definitely apply to anything major you’re ready to accomplish in your life. There will always be those people who want to bring you down.

Okay, maybe not intentionally. Like you said, they may have your best interests at heart as they see it. But at the same time I believe life is worth living and taking chances. No regrets right so go for what makes you happy and your tips for handling all those objections or other people’s opinions are great.

I love your sound advice Annie. Like Dan mentioned, I love visiting your place. Anyone whoever wanted to take that plunge into doing anything differently should follow your sound advice.

Can’t wait to see what else you’ll be sharing with us young lady!

Hey, have a great week.

~Adrienne
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    Annie Andre

    Hi Adrienne,
    It really can apply to any kind of naysayer can’t it..? I took a page from your book and try to take a piece of knowledge and apply it to my niche. i.e. how naysayers effect Long term travellers like me.
    I’m glad too that i am in the least holding your attention because i really want this site to be a place where arm chair travellers can get a feel for what it’s like and all you have to go through to travel and live abroad long term..

    Thanks for stopping by. You make the conversation so much more interesting.

Marvin

Excellent post Annie…and oh so true! We resorted to #5. We only let people in on our plans at 3 wks from launch. It worked out, enabling us to focus most of our energy on our logistics leading up to departure.

Of course #8 helps a ton! We did that by following lots of bloggers like you!

Thanks for a great set of reminders on handling this situation.
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    Annie Andre

    Oh Marvin,
    I’m so glad i’m not the only one who had to deal with the issue of naysayers.

    I really like how you handled your launch by only telling people 3 wks before you left. I think that’s great because by then you had everything planned out and worked out most of the bumps. I wish i had contacted more people before our departure. I only contacted 2 people but it was enough to keep me going. Thanks for your input, which i value very much..

Noch Noch

Ah yes – i’m familiar wtih that. I think i just kind of went about my way and didn’t listen to them. but i felt bitter, like no one would understand me. i didn’t “disengage” :(
but that was 10 years ago. now my fiance is supportive of us moving around and my family – well they have gotten used to it :)
Noch Noch
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Harleena Singh

Great info Annie!

Though I have never traveled abroad, nor are there any scenes of us going out, but these surely are wonderful tips to remember for those who do, or even if I have to ever venture out.

I guess what really matters most is that you take the required measures and follow your heart. If you really do want to go out you should listen to other people’s views, though do what you wish to do without having nay kinds of regrets in mind. And surrounding yourself with positive minded people who are supportive is a great way to feel good about your decisions also.

Thanks for sharing :)
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    Annie Andre

    Thanks Harleena for you input. You are so right, it’s about following your heart. Listen to others but ultimately do what makes you happy. The tough part is balancing what the heart wants with living your life and taking care of responsibilities. It can take years to find that balance.

Jack

Hi Annie,

I think a lot of people listen to our plans through their filters and their insecurities and then respond based upon that.

It is not always what is good for us, but based upon what they see as good for them.

Your advice is dead on.
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    Steve Rice

    That’s a great point, Jack! It’s hard to remember when we’re in the “moment” of someone disagreeing…but the simple technique of remembering that they are responding because of their interpretation of what’s going on has everything to do with them, and not as much to do with us. Great insight!
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    Annie Andre

    Jack
    I absolutely LUUUUV the way you explained this.. On another but similar topic, I’m guilty of listening to my kids plans through my own filters too. sometimes too much…

Brasilicana

Back in 2004 when I told my grandparents I was going to study abroad in Brazil, the first thing they said was “Did you know that Brazil has the world’s highest rate of deaths from lightning strikes?”

Uhhhhh, no, I didn’t, but thanks…? Not exactly an energy vampire, but also not exactly the reaction I was hoping for!
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    Annie Andre

    This was seriously the funniest thing i’ve heard in a long time. I told my husband and he laughed too.
    Thanks for sharing.. :)

Steve Rice

Hey, Annie…when I saw the title of this post, I had to stop over and read it!

LOVE your suggestions. I think they’re great suggestions for any change in life.

Setting boundaries is so difficult for many of us to do. Your 10-point formula is great!

Especially the first one…LISTEN. That point is so important.
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    Annie Andre

    Steve, you are so right that these suggestions could apply to any and all naysayers in your life.. I think some people don’t realize that moving abroad even if only temporarily can cause such negative reactions.
    So prepare yourself Steve… I know you’ll be travellign soon yourself non?

Stan Faryna

I like your point, Annie.

You don’t need the approval of others to be you.
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    Annie Andre

    Oh Stan,
    it’s easier said than done especially if you are a born introvert who learned how to be more of an extrovert. Introverts always need approval of others. Or at least i did. In the end, you are right, we shouldn’t need the approval of others..

Allie

Annie,

When I was in college I wanted to travel abroad, I had opportunities to. When I told my parents they were very much against. I understand that they worried for my safety. And they pointed out all the negative- even the stuff that COULD happen. I was worried I was going to get raped if I went to Mexico City. Mugged in Paris. They convinced me it was too scary for a young girl.

I look back in hind site and see what they were doing, they were scared for me. But I really needed to do more research and just do it.

~Allie

    Annie Andre

    Allie,
    I suppose anything cold happen right? you could have gotten run over by a car to the airport too.
    my dad said the same things to me when i was a teenager but it just fueled me and made me want to go live abroad all the more..
    As far as you travelling now though…
    It’s never too late. You could always spend a few months abroad while the kids are out of school. renting a house for the summer is cheaper than a hotel for 2 weeks.
    ps
    i’m working on all those questions you sent me..

John

I like the idea of using their doubt as fuel to move forward. That can be a great motivator, and a sign that you are on the right path!
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    Annie Andre

    Hi John
    Yup, doubt as fuel is a great motivator. I think you may be as stubborn as me.

Steve

It’s always amazing how many people will try to talk you out of what you want to do. I think you made some great points in how to handle those people.

I haven’t lived abroad before, but I will be for two months later this year. But I’ve had to deal with discouraging people before when I’ve gone traveling. You would be surprised how many people tried to talk me out of traveling to Nicaragua. Everyone seemed so concerned about crime. Truth is, I felt completely safe when I was there.

I’ve run into both the relative who is trying to protect me and the friend/co-worker who has convinced themselves that it can’t be done. I think you’re spot on with those. While it’s good to hear all their cautions and advice, you can’t let it stop you from living abroad.
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    Annie Andre

    Interesting Steve that people would say that..I could see if it was a war zone but because of crime happening in the WHOLE COUNTRY? wow.
    ps where are you going for two months?

Sarah O

This is such an important piece of the puzzle Annie! It’s something that all of us have to face if we want to manifest our dream of living abroad! And it can be the hardest part of it all – because it’s so difficult to deal with disapproval from those we love or respect.

You’ve got some insightful and helpful tips here. I love the one about asking them for help. That could really turn their attitude around if they realize they can be a part of this dream. It’s also great advice to be selective about who you tell. Why invite dream-crushers to the party?

    Annie Andre

    Sarah,
    so well said. I think many people who do plan on doing something unconventional don’t realize how powerful naysayers negativity is.And yes, i say don’t invite dream – crushers.

Daniel Lombardi

Hi Annie,

Following your dreams and wanting to broaden your horizons is a perfectly natural way to live and all these Naysayers and energy vampires are probably simply worried as mentioned in the article. These tips are some of the best I’ve seen so far to set at ease those who worry.

Best wishes to you, for a magnificent weekend.
Daniel
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    Annie Andre

    Daniel,
    Following your dreams IS a natural way to broaden your horizons. It’s too bad so many people don’t follow their dreams because they really do listen to naysayers.. thanks for stopping by.

Lenia

Hi Annie,
It is so true what you mention here and I had that experience myself too. It was when I told everybody that I am going to follow my friend for a six month trip around the world. As you mention the reactions were different. Some people were just happy for us but some others thought that we are crazy. I did as you advise…i didn’t try to convince them about anything. It was a choice, nothing more. I was independent and I want to follow a dream for the first time in my life. The hardest was to announce the decision to my Greek parents. I have to tell you that we don’t do such things in Greece…Greeks do not just quit everything to travel for a long time..(backpacking style). So everybody though that i was an alien!
I didn’t care about everybody but only about my parents. i tried to explain them. After all it was my decision and besides their worries they accepted it and now they feel proud of me. It is a nice feeling :)
Thank you for this article. You give me the opportunity to share my experience.
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    Annie Andre

    Oh Lenia,
    I didn’t know that about Greek Culture but it makes sense. I’m so glad your parents are not accepting of your choices. I wonder if it was just that they were worried that you were making a bad choice but now that they see that you are safe and sound that they feel like they can relax an trust you..

    Thank You for sharing. I love to hear these stories of obstacles that other people like you have encountered. I think it helps other people too..

David

Hi Annie,

I actually am living abroad and it IS very interesting.

Learning a new language is perhaps the biggest challenge to face. Without the language skills it is difficult to fully appreciate your new country.

I liked everything you wrote in your post and it occurred to me that many of the guidelines you listed apply to all situations in life.

Arguing is of little use 95% of the time. And it does not make relationships work better.

I received support in my move from one family member and others were obviously disappointed but they did not try to interfere too much.

Its always a bad feeling when you know that someone is against your plans.

I like that you are able to take the energy from the naysayers and turn it into a positive.
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    Annie Andre

    Hello David,
    thank you for your input. the language thing can be a bit of a hurdle but it can be so fun to learn a new language.

    i’m so glad that you at least received the support of one family member. It really is a bad feeling when family members don’t support you. This happened to me when i was 18 and decided to move to Japan. I understand their concerns and i wonder how i will react to my own children wanting to move abroad when they are older. hmmm.

Pauline

Hi Annie
I found you through Adrienne so hope you don’t mind me visiting!
I moved abroad with my husband 4 years ago, we left UK to live on a Greek island and when we first told family and friends they thought we were MAD!! and they tried to tell us all the bad things that could go wrong so you post made me smile as I could relate to all of it.
We still moved of course and have not regretted one moment of it :)
Have a great week
Pauline
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    Annie Andre

    Pauline,
    I love stories like this. I think had you not gone and listened to everyone you would have always had a regret or that big question in the back of your mind.. “what if i had gone” Even if your trip failed and you had to return to the UK you could at least have the satisfaction to say that you tried. Besides, Greece is not that far from the UK right?

    ps thanks for stopping by. I love Adrienne and her fabulous dog Kayla.

Sunil Prajapat

Hey Annie. i always wanted to live abroad for a better future. but my parents are really very possessive about me and dont want me to get lost in this crazy world. can you beleive that? well you have mentioned some of the best methods. will give a try to it.
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    Annie Andre

    Sunil,
    All parent i think are very posessive. I think it’s only natural that your parents want to protect you. The best you can do is follow your heart and do what makes you happy. THey will understand in time. Good luck to you Sunil.

B

Hi thank you for the advice.
I’m putting off telling my mum my immigration for Canada arrived and i plan to go next year with my partner and children. Im so nervous she will have a break down. She knows it was on the cards but now its really happening I’m dreading breaking her heart….
help :-(

B

    Annie Andre

    B,
    This is such a tough spot to be in. Be brave and just be honest with her. Don’t react if she takes it badly. Listen to her concerns and let her know you understand her concerns and her feelings but also let her know that your mind is made up and that you would like her support. Good luck..

Ally

HI Annie,

After visiting my husband’s birth country of Vietnam, I absolutely loved it. I came back with the sense that this Canadian life we are living just spins us in circles all the time. I found myself asking myself why I owned a $200 coffee maker and fancy dinner plates. Why was I busting my butt to work at a job I don’t really enjoy, only to buy more crap, cause it’s what everyone does…. So after much consideration and pro-ing and con-ing, we decided that a movie to Ho Chi Minh is in order.

My parents and siblings are devastated. Their first reaction was “how could you do this to me? How could you take your kids away from us?” Although reading your blog is 2 weeks too late and you can’t go back and change how you delivered the news, it’s still not too late to repair and recover. As the dust settles, I certainly plan on applying these 10 rules. I’m hoping that this smooths out some of the drama, so that they can muster the courage to show my 10 and 5 year old that they are excited for this new life they are about to live. Thanks for this blogpost. It saved me.

    Annie Andre

    Ally,
    It’s an impossible situation to be in; when our desires, dreams and the things that can potentially make us happy means leaving loved ones behind.

    I truly believe that trying to convince others who have their mind set that what you are doing is wrong (probably for selfish reasons), is futile.
    Maybe your best argument to calm the waters is to talk from the point of view that this is something that you really want to do and try. This is something that will make your happy and you need to experience and without it you feel like you will have a regret in your heart the size of mount Rushmore.
    It’s harder to argue with that point of view than trying to convince them that expensive coffee makers and dinner plates just don’t do it for you anymore.

    Good Luck Ally,
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CJ Thapa

Dear Annie,
Helpful article but it’s hard to do so because i’ve been grown up in Nepali culture and background and even harder because i’m a girl.

Smiles :)

Annie Andre

Hi Megan,
thanks for your thoughts. Number 9 “let it fuel you” is also my favorite way to deal with energy vampires. It’s helped me accomplish a lot in my life.

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