Travel Nurses with Unsupportive Friends and Family: How to Deal with It

When I first started to travel for a living, people asked me what I was running away from, wondered why I didn’t get a real job, and would mostly tell me I was crazy or weird. As a travel nurse, it seems there are a lot of unsupportive friends and family.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get a lot of encouragement and support in the beginning.

Unsupportive family and friends

Sometimes your friends and family, the people you want most to be supportive of your new career, aren’t as enthusiastic as you’d like them to be. They don’t understand and try to talk you out of going. It can be deflating and saddening. You’re so excited about this adventure and here they are, raining on your parade.

Readers reach out to me about this topic frequently. I can feel the angst in their emails and the confusion at not knowing to how deal with the situation.

“How do I not let them get me down? What did you do? What do I say?” These are the questions I hear from Travel Nurses that I meet.  It’s apparent that I’m not the only who has faced such negativity, and, luckily, I’m also not the only who ignored it.

So what do you do or say when your support system is so unsupportive. Below are some common criticisms future travelers hear and examples of how I’ve turned similar criticism around when I’ve been faced with it myself:

“It’s so unsafe there! You shouldn’t go.”  I hear this one a lot, not only from people via email, but also from people in my own life. News organizations paint the world to be a scary, scary place with criminals lurking around every corner. News shows love to highlight the dangers of life. Crime happens everywhere. It occurs in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and every small town and medium city in between. You can walk out of your house and be mugged or hit by a bus. Just like you can travel the world and never have anything happen to you. There is no place in the world that is 100% safe. Once you put it into this perspective for people, it usually ends the subject.

“You are just running away.  People seem to assume that if you are traveling long-term, you must be running away from something. When people say this to me, I tell them that yes, I am running away.  I’m running away from their version of life and to my version of life. Remind people that what they do in their life may make them happy, but that you have different goals. This experience is what makes you happy right now. Most people will admit you have a point and drop the subject because, at the end of the day, we all want our friends to realize their dreams and be happy. True friends will let you go after yours and be supportive along the way.

“Why don’t you get a real job?”  When people tell me that I should get a ‘real’ job, I respond that if I’m going to be working well into my old age, I’d rather spend my healthy years exploring the world instead of stuck in one place.  Life as a travel nurse is a working vacation.

“I wish I could do that. You’re so lucky. It must be nice to not have any responsibility.” This statement is one that nearly angers me. This is jealousy, pure and simple. I tell people, “You can travel too.” There’s nothing special about me and my decision. I’m not ‘lucky’, I’ve worked very hard to be able to live a life as a Travel Nurse and there is a lot that I give up to be able to do so. While there are always circumstances that really keep people from traveling, for the most part the only things holding anyone back are the restrictions they put on themselves. People of all ages and circumstances can find a way to turn travel into a reality.

“It’s unsafe to travel alone.”  I typically respond to anyone who offers this argument by asking them why they believe this, and they will usually begin to spout stories they “learned” from the news about people who traveled alone and ended up in a bad situation. They might rattle off worst-case scenarios: “you could get sick, injured, robbed, or worse, and no one would be around to help.” That may be true, but if I went hiking in the woods by myself, the same thing could happen. Hell, I could fall in my apartment and no one might notice for days. As a solo traveler, you have to be a little more vigilant. Besides, I’m really rarely alone for long due to the variety of people I meet and friends I make along the way.

“Don’t you care about settling down and finding someone?”  The undertone of this question is that you won’t be happy if you don’t have someone. My response is typically that I will settle down when I find the right person to settle down with, and that person could be found anywhere in the world. I do want to find someone I’m crazy about, but I won’t settle for just anyone. Besides, perhaps my ‘someone’ will be found while traveling.

“Why would you want to go there?”  People ask this question with the undertone that by wanting to go to some remote small town in Nebraska, you’re weird, as if certain places in the world are inconsequential and not worthy of exploration. My answer to this question is “because it exists.” I’ve found that some of the least desirable places have some of my best memories. There is something good about everywhere that I’ve been. Why should I limit myself? Why should you, either?

There will always be haters. And while we can always tell ourselves “I don’t care what people think,” the truth is we do care what our friends and family have to say because we value their opinions.

If a stranger tells me I am running away, I don’t care. But when all my friends do, I become discouraged that they don’t support my decision. And I get enough emails from readers to know that all that negativity does make would-be travelers question their decision to travel and wonder if they are making a mistake.

(You’re not!)

Use these responses to deflect their criticism and help them understand why you want to travel. And if they still remain unsupportive, there is a wonderful network of travelers all over the web who can act as your support system and source of encouragement.
Use us.
Read about others experiences.
Keep dreaming.
Don’t let people get you down.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take the alternative path and travel for a living. Let them try to dissuade you. Let them call you crazy

[quote author=" Mark Twain]Mark TwainTravel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime..[/quote]

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TheGypsyNurse

As a travel nursing educator, Candy aka Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past nine years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 15 states throughout the U.S. She regularly shares advice for those interested in travel nurse jobs on her website at: www.thegypsynurse.com.

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