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backpacker parent gap year mum-1-2

Backpacking Travel From A Parental Perspective (An Interview With My Mum!)

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Mummy Stevens!

When you hit the road for the first time it’s not just yourself that begins a journey, your family and friends are also a part of that trip.

You have pre travel nerves – and they do too!

So I thought I’d take a slightly different approach to the subject of planning and long term travel by giving you a new perspective – one that’s very personal but that will also hopefully help silence the critics and people who may try to convince you NOT to head out into the world and also for those who are closest to you and are simply worried about the unknown.

So I’d like to introduce my Mum, aka Mother (she hates that term), aka Mummy Stevens.

She’s now an empty nester (bar looking after my Dad!) due to the fact both myself and younger brother are now out exploring the world (he’s currently on a working holiday visa in Australia with no set end date to his travels…) and I thought I’d interview her so you can get the parental perspective – both for yourself but also to show your parents who might have apprehensions about you hitting the unknown path…


So mother dearest how are you adjusting to having a house without your two offspring?!

It’s much quieter in the house, more food in the fridge and the shopping bill is smaller! It all seems very strange and has taken some adjusting too – suddenly after 20+ years of looking after you guys you have moved on!!!


Travel wise – how did you view travel growing up?

I was very lucky and started travelling when fairly young – heading to France and Holland in primary school and then at secondary I took part in a 6 week exchange programme to Germany living with a host family. Growing up i was always excited about travelling and holidays.


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Hitting The Road..Again!

Lets go back to my first real adventure – when I headed to Ecuador solo for a university project back when I was 20 – how did you feel, were you nervous?!

Wow what a hectic few weeks that was – I dont think you gave us time to think about it ! In typical Chris fashion everything was left to the last minute! We were always anxious about your trip especially as it was to a far flung country. we were grateful and ressured by the support you received from Tasmin (who runs Balsa Surfers) who was familiar with that country and culture.


Fast forward to 2009 when I was planning and booking my Australia trip – how were you feeling then at the prospect of me being away for so long? Did you actually think I’d do it?

I think I knew you were going to go to Oz – you had often discussed travelling and Australia. But you surprised and impressed us with all your preperation and research this time. I dont think I let myself think about a whole year away though.


Heathrow Airport, October 2009 – I’m about to jump on a plane and you’re crying in the departure hall…run us through your thoughts!

Well thanks for disclosing to your readers! The realisation that you were actually leaving set in, I excited for you but obviously upset at your leaving not just for a month but a whole year.


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Facetime Sessions With MY Little Bro

How did everything pan out while I was in Australia – did you miss me, was it ok, did you worry, did we keep in touch enough?

I have to say that we have been really lucky with both of you in that you are regularly in contact with us either quick text, email or facetime (although on your 1st trip away we were using Skype).

It was lovely to hear your news and it was good to know that for the start of your trip you were with people you had met with prior to your trip.

The call we took early one morning from somebody [my girlfriend at the time] crying down the phone caused great concern when we heard you were in hospital! Especially when you posted photos! [you can read more about my surfing accident in this post!]

We missed you especially at xmas with all the family, it didnt help that when we spoke on xmas morning you were having such a miserable time – only you could have had the 1st wet xmas in how many years!i knew how much you had been looking forward to having a surf and barbie on beach for xmas day.


I came home to surprise you – did you actually think I’d head home? Was it weird seeing me back in the UK

Surprise! And boy do you continue to do so – I really believed you were still travelling and had got my head around that and then lo and behold there you were at work – and I did expect you back at some time but certainly not then!


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Busy Planning Our Roadtrip

BOOM – it’s late 2011 and I’ve quit my job, dumped my girlfriend and decided to head off long term – how did that all go down in your books?! Too spontaneous? Worried I left a good job? Running away from relationships again?!

I knew you would go again – mums intuition –  but not sure I was prepared for how quickly! I have always tried and i like to believe i have manged to take an objective view to your decisions it is your life and often how you choose to live it is not how I would choose for you but as your Dad says – we learn by our mistakes and that is how we grow. I think again it was the last minute and I do get my self stressed with such little time to sort things – and you are so laid back about it all until 48 before you leave and then…!


How does my whole spontaneous changes of plans sit with you? Did it take some adjusting too?

I think only now after so many spontaneous  changes to your plans have we got used to the fact that you do not do things by half – you just jump in with both feet!


How do you think travel has changed me?

Travelling has certainly broadened your horizons and made you think outside of the ususual box. I have been surprised with how you have dealt with your finances too.

I still do not understand how the blog works but the fact that with your photography, blog and surfing experience you are able to fianance your travels has always impressed me – the hard work has certainly paid off. It is amazing when you talk about all your contacts and friends that they come from all over the world and I find it fascinating. I also feel very proud that so many of our friends and work colleagues follow your blog with great interest.


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I NEVER Thought I’d Witness My Mum Doing This!

You came to see me in NZ early last year and travelled with me for a while – did that change your views on what I was doing?

That was a wonderful experience and hiring a campervan was our best decision – the experience for me gave me a better understanding of your life. We had such an amazing time staying at camp sites – meeting with travelers from so many different countries, sharing a barbie and a drink and just the easy carefree feel to life.


We’ve said goodbye at airports a lot recently – does it get ay easier?



What was your feeling on Josh [my younger brother] leaving? Did you encourage him, was your mind at rest? worried about him and money?!

Again it was not easy however we had the reassurance that you had been able to support him with valuable advice/support and information for his travel plans. He was excited about his experience and certainly it was slightly easier this time and we had also gained valuable information from the 1st time round which helped us.


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I’ve Gone But She Still Has To Deal With Dad!

Any advice, tips or realisations you’d like to pass on to parents who have sons and daughters planning their trips?

Encourage them to research their planned trip – the internet provides useful travel forums, STA Travel provided me with a lot of reassuring help/support and guidance. INSURANCE is the big one though – make sure you have a good one…very reassuring for us mums!

Take an active interest in their travels – it certainly made me feel much happier knowing about the loose plans! Travelling nowadays with so much technology available certainly means we can keep in contact in one way or another much easier than when I was younger…just make sure you know how to work all the technology before they leave !!


Any last words to my readers on what I’m like and stuff from the world of travel that you’ve learnt from me?!

Jumps in with both feet !!!
Very un orgainised at home !!!
Always leaves us with lots of jobs to do when he leaves us – enough to keep us busy for a while !!!

Life is very different today for our sons and daughters – no more jobs for life, employers now look for new employees who have tried various jobs and have gained life experiences, all of which travelling provides.

This life is not for everybody but can provide such a rich rewarding experience for anybody wanting to try it !!!


I hope that gives you a better insight into the world of my travels but more importantly helps reassure your family about any plans you may have in the works!

Do you face any objections/worries about your planned adventures? If so whack the questions in the comments and I’ll put together another post with the help of my parents to help answer and hopefully reassure them that it’s not going to end horribly!

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