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Outdoor Safety: How To Talk to A Loved One About Your Trek
How would you tell your mom that you are quitting your job to become homeless for five months?
I know in modern society, being dubbed a nomad is cool, hip, and welcoming. But when you have a BIPOC parent, being a nomad does not exist in my parents’ dictionary. It’s called quitting your job, neglecting my graduate and undergraduate degrees to do something different.
“Mija, we did not raise you to become homeless. We worked so hard for you to go to school and to have an excellent job. We did not raise you to do this. ” – Mi mama
What’s triggering is when more than one of your grandparents have been homeless and not by choice. That’s three generations trying to make a change to make sure the future generations never have to experience that low. Now failure is in their eyes when they look at me.
On top of all of it, the great outdoors are associated with the unknown and wildlife. It is filled with dirt and no showers.
How is this something anyone wants to do?
Here are tips that you can do to Alleviate Your Parent’s Worries.
- Don’t put off this conversation with your parents, and hope it will vanish.
It won’t vanish. Start the conversation as early as possible. Each conversation following will get easier and simpler.
2. Sit down with your parents and talk about your love for the outdoors.
If you start early, you can have an in-person conversation.
Allow them to ask as many questions as possible, and explain how much it means it to you. The steps you take to be prepared and that you will be in contact with them. They need to understand, it is not a one-time thing.
And please, “remember their worry comes from a loving place” – Maria
It is how they are communicating they love you, and they mean well. It is important to think about before you start the conversation. Have a compassionate discussion, it’s not them telling you what you can’t or can do. Let let your emotions get the best of you two.
Words That Helped Sway My Mom:
“I need your support. I need your love. Your love is what is going to make me succeed and excel. The more pressure, questions, and fear only causes anxiety for both of us. If you want me to finish this hike and successfully: I need your help. I need your support. Please try to understand what this means to me.” – From me to mi mama
Specific tactics to Help Parents Understand:
- Sit down and watch a movie or documentary about hiking, thru-hiking, or camping. It works best if you are there with your loved ones.
In 2016, there were not many youtube videos out there, but now there is an abundant amount. Find one that resonates with you and loved ones the most. That means you have to watch it too and make sure the scenes are no explicit or show anything too scary. It will help them understand how it is like behind-the-scene.
2. Walk your parents how you plan for your trip.
Explain the steps you take to prepare for a trip; otherwise, they might assume you are winging it.
For the PCT, part of my parents’ concern is they thought I randomly decided I was going to quit my job or go on a hike. Once again, it stresses the importance of having this conversation early. That includes what you do for safety.
Being safe = prepping. You might have to explain it in conversation if it arises. And it will.
2020 & How I Talk to My Parents About Prepping:
In my everyday conversation with my mom, I will casually bring up to her that I want to hike once a week, and I have a list of places I want to visit. I will let her know we are backpacking 2-4 weeks out. It allows us to know it’s something that has been on our mind, and we are taking our time to prepare.
The more I casually bring it up, the easier it is for her soak it in. Additionally, I let her know how much I need to step outside of my home and reconnect with nature. It’s my therapy, and it has been a stressful few weeks. When I leave on the weekend or let her know, I will be backpacking and might not have a signal. She knew it was happening, and she is happy for me.
Hiking & Backpacking: Trails & Routes
Send Your Trail Route. The All Trails app offers that option. (Thank you Ali for the tip!) I’m sure other apps offer that option. You can create your route on google maps and send it too. Or do it old school, notify your loved ones of your destination, goal mileage, and time you can complete it. Although it seems simple, it shows you had spent time planning this trip, and if something happens, you can be found. It goes a long way, and never forget it.
How I Explained My Prep For the PCT:
I went out of my way and created an itinerary document. It took a while to make, but it explained when we plant to get into town and how we will receive our food. Additionally, I started blogging and vlogging about my prepping. I loved to do it, and it allowed my mom and dad to see what I am doing behind the camera. That includes safety and gear. My mom is a big fan of seeing me in front of the camera; she is a mom. So I know she watched it.
Nevertheless, one of my most difficulties was explaining to her how much we are prepared. That includes emergencies, wildlife encounters, water, not getting lost, and how we will stay in communication if there is no signal.
How I Explained About Emergencies and Safety:
Unfortunately, no matter what I had said or did, it did not alleviate her worries. I tried to let her know I am taking classes about prepping for the PCT at REI, we are bringing the necessary gear, and that my partner works for the Parks & he is an Eagle Scout (he’s an expert). It didn’t help.
I purchased a $450 satellite 2-way communicator & GPS. I told her that I could send her and Stephen’s mom the exact location of where we are in case of an emergency. I told her I could text her at any moment from anywhere. I told her we downloaded all the maps into the GPS, and in case we get lost, we have a backup GPS. That helped during the hike but not before the hike. I will still recommend it.
I had learned, no matter what happens, my mom will be anxious. She is my mother. Therefore, starting the conversation early and walking her through how I prepare helps a lot. Don’t do this last-minute. It will not help.
What Helped the Most: 𝗔𝗹𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗳𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 𝗱𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗶𝗸𝗲, 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝘂-𝗵𝗶𝗸𝗲, 𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗮 𝗿𝗲𝗰ap afterwrds.
So don’t feel beaten. The key to help your parents and loved ones to alleviate their fears is talking to them during your adventure. If you don’t have a signal, then send them pictures and tell them about your trip when you have the time.
ALWAYS talk to your loved ones about how the trip went, how it made you happy, everything cool you saw, the amazing people you met, and things you did.
Walking my parents through my PCT experience is what gave them peace. My mom told me, “We disapprove of what you are doing, but we noticed how happy it had made you. We will support you, and we hope you finish the trail.” Now my check-ins with my mom are exciting and not filled with anxiety. She loves my pictures, and I make sure to go over my trip with her every time I go on a hike, backpacking adventure, or camping.
Another thing I did: I created a video once a day that was 1-2 minutes long, explaining about our day, where were are located, and anything else that happened. When I arrived in town, I posted it onto YouTube for my mom to watch. I wanted her to see with her eyes what is happening beyond a picture. I went above and beyond, but it helped.
There are multiple ways for your loved ones to understand your trek, passion, and love for the outdoors. Remember, it starts from the pre-planning phase to the end of the adventure.
Walk them through the stages, and soon it will be a casual conversation as time passes. Now I make it fun and light-hearted. When solo-hiking and have a signal: I send a text individually and let my partner, mom, or sister, I wish there were here to share this experience with me.