To let DD go backpacking??(27 Posts)
DD wants to go backpacking around Europe when she has finished school. She is currently 17 and will be 18 at that point.
Initially I thought it would be fine as she would not be alone and is very sensible so I trust her to be safe, but since I've heard about the increase in sexual assault cases I'm not so sure it's a good idea.
I don't want to rob her of what could be an important life experience but at the same time I obviously want her to be safe.
Should I discourage it?
I went backpacking around India with a few of my friends when I was 18 (seems quite a while ago now!) my parents were extremely anxious the whole time I was out there but I really had the most fantastic experience. It definitely helped me to become more independent and self assured.
Depends who she's going with, where to, and for how long.
Are you worrying about sexual assaults from a stranger or within the group?
If you're thinking of random strangers, I do think the likelihood of that is fairly low, but there are many other things that could go wrong.
She will be 18. There is nothing you can do to stop her, aside from chaining her to the radiator.
I think because she'll be an adult and you've used the word 'let', a lot of people may get hung up upon that, thus losing the point of the thread and your concerns.
I don't think I would discourage it, but I would definitely encourage her to discuss her plans with you, so that you can help to advise/look at the safety aspects.
I wonder if there are facebook/internet groups dedicated to backpacking? If so, they could possibly be a godsend when it comes to practical and safety information/experiences?
YANBU to be anxious but you would be very unreasonable to deny her that experience.
Your fear is disproportionate to reality and you need to get a hold on it. Don't try to limit what could be a brilliant, life-enhancing, horizon-broadening experience for your daughter. You do their job for them if you let your fear rule.
Sorry, when I say 'let her' I mean should I be encouraging her.
I was thinking about sexual assault from outside the group, another thread on here made me think about how safe it would be.
She would be going with 2 or 3 friends from school, probably 1 boy and 1 or 2 other girls. She would only be going for a month (2 months at the most) and she wants to go around Eastern Europe and then end up in France where she will be attending university.
I'm genuinely not saying this in a shitty way, but she's an adult so it's not for you to 'let' her.
My DD's 15 so I can well imagine
the horror how I'd feel if she said it's something she'd like to do, but maybe looking at it as your right to allow/not allow her isn't going to help her stay safe one iota while she's travelling? It'll just give you an uncomfortable atmosphere which nobody wants when they're apart.
There must be tons of sites dealing with
the horror parent's safety concerns when their DC are travelling? Could you cherry pick the advice relevant to you both and put a strategy in place to keep in contact and for her to know where to get help should she need it?
X-post, that took me an age to write, and add more proof to Worra's point
Well you can't stop your DD from going, and it is probably indeed pointless to even try, but showing her that you care and helping her to make this trip as safe as possible is important! It's all too easy to just leave her to it, on the basis that she's probably not too keen on discussing details with you. (Partly because I bet they've not even worked them out themselves yet!)
I also think that closer to departure it is important to say that you will worry (as mums do), but that you want her to have fun anyway, and that if anything ever goes wrong, you will do everything you can, and more, to help. Whatever it takes. Whatever happens, you will always be there for her.
Questions to ask, gently, and with genuine positive interest:
- what is the route,
- how many miles daily are they going to walk,
- who else is going, and whether they have been together under pressure before,
- what currencies will they need,
- how is the signal / internet there?
- who are they going to see (if anyone) in terms of local guides or friends or whatever, on the ground.
- how are they going to get there,
- what experience do they have of going on similar adventures before?
You will probably find that she's got no clue about most of these things. Don't faint. Get on the research team to help her find out.
In terms of sexual assaults, the stats are indeed worrying. 16-19y olds are at the highest risk in fact, and overall figure is 1 in 6 women sexually assaulted or raped at some point in their lives.
BUT - and this is a huge BUT - going on a trip like this doesn't change those stats. Vast majority of the assaults are done by a current or ex- boyfriend, people they know etc.
So your worry is valid, to a degree, but unrelated to the trip.
It largely depends on how good a job you have done as a parent so far in teaching her to be a competent, independent person. If you have taught her well, giving her gradually more independence and trust, then there is absolutely no reason why she should not be able to get around Europe safely with a small group of people aged 18.
I have a 17-year-old DD too, and we live in a large city in central Europe. I'd be more worried about letting her go to London by herself, TBH, that always seems such a dangerous city to me, and then all those drunk people on Saturday nights, ewww, that always looks very dangerous. So you see, risk is largely a matter of perception. German parents are still often freaked out about letting their DC go to the UK because of BSE (although less now than a decade ago)!
One problem is that British teenagers do appear to be ridiculously molly-coddled by comparison with many other European nationalities; many German teenagers go to the USA for a whole school year aged 15 or 16, for instance. My own DD did a 3-month exchange to another country aged 15, so I know that she can cope well on her own. How much experience have you given your DD so far of looking after herself?
If they're planning to go to or through Germany, carrying pepper spray is semi-legal. The trick is that it's officially for warding off animal attacks and has to be labelled for that use, but if you happen to have a spray with you and get attacked by a person, you are allowed then to use the spray to defend yourself. Bonkers reasoning, but in short, they can get Pfefferspray from hardware and security shops etc (although they're currently all sold out for obvious reasons). I don't know about the legal situation of pepper spray in any other countries, you'd have to check. However, my DD goes around our city day and night and has never encountered any problems or hassle. What happened in Cologne etc was really NOT an everyday occurrence.
I did it 20 odd years ago and it was a fantastic experience. It was also incredibly shitty and scary in parts.
I wish I'd known that we would be a target in some places as young, women. I wish I'd known that it was as important to read up on how to access help when necessary and not just focus on how to access the tourist sites. I wish I'd known that travelling and integrating is very different to being on a holiday and that you therefore encounter not just the tarted up tourist areas but also the everyday seedy parts of towns and cities. I wish I'd had the sense to trust my instincts instead of worrying about causing offence.
Given the rise in sexual attacks on women in Europe, I think it entirely reasonable that you have concerns but I do think you should encourage her to go but also remind her to remain aware and alert and to never be concerned about asking for help.
Carrying pepper spray may be semi legal, but it's also a really stupid idea and puts her at risk of accidentally spraying herself or a perpetrator using it against her.
Talk to her about being sensible and not putting herself in vulnerable situations. I'm sure many years ago someone spiked my drink in Thailand and luckily someone helped me back to the bungalows but I was lucky.
Maybe encourage her to do self defence classes before she leaves. I think they're a good thing for everyone to do, whether backpacking or not.
Pandora I did exactly the same! This was in the late 1980s, pre-mobile phone and internet, when communication was an airmail letter and money was in travellers cheques.
Anything could have happened. Nothing bad did (friend had the squits though, which wasn't brilliant).
OP, I think your DD will resent you for ever if you ban the trip. But if you plan it together and look at places to stay, train routes etc. etc. it could turn out really well.
Keep in mind that mountains in Eastern Europe are not sign posted ;-) and the rest of the services (shops, connectivity) are not the same as in the UK either. This is actually very nice and wild; people specifically go there to escape the signs of civilization! But you just have to rely on yourself a lot more than here.
She'll be far less likely to be assaulted inter-railing round major European cities than she would be on a week in magaluf!
WidowWadman - eh?
There will be no police to speak of in those places. Lots of young people in Eastern Europe carry sprays with them.
One more important question - have they budgeted the trip? Do they know how much money they need? Has she saved up enough?
Attitude to risk changes as you get older. Young people can't analyze risk the same way as older people can. It's definitely parents' responsibility to try and help with risk assessment the best way they can.
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