When Vancouver-based Yvonne Chiang married Dana, she knew about his reluctance to travel. Although this was based on a fear of flying, she slowly changed his perspective. The secret? Connecting to his keenest interests.
"Watching the world rally championship is one of his hobbies, so I suggested visiting Italy to catch a race," says Chiang, who arranged VIP behind-the-scenes access to sweeten the deal.
Travelling to Sardinia for the race and adding sightseeing in Rome, Venice and Florence, the vacation was a turning point. They've since hit Scotland, Austria and Greece – and enjoyed Paris and London for a recent wedding anniversary (car-race-based side trip to Wales included).
Enrolling Dana in a fear-of-flying course helped, but Chiang says she still organizes all the details of their trips to minimize any possible travel anxieties.
Addressing anxieties is key, says British-based travel blogger Abigail King (insidethetravellab.com). "Find out why they don't want to travel. Are they afraid of crashes? Introduce some stats. Afraid of disease? Good knowledge goes a long way. Is it the expense? Find cheaper destinations."
Not all reluctant travellers are suppressing fears, of course. Some just don't see the value of overseas trips. For King, that's where gentle persuasion helps. "Try dining in different restaurants at home, watching movies, flicking through glossy books or reading blogs that bring other places and cultures into focus," she says, adding that social media is great for quizzing other travellers on potential destinations.
King suggests accessible Singapore for selling nervous newbies on the charms of Asia. And while fellow writer Don George (don-george.com) adds Kyoto and San Francisco as wow-factor spots for first-timers, he also agrees with Chiang's strategy of leveraging keen interests. "Relate the potential travel experience to their prime passions. If they love ice cream, say 'I'll take you to the world's best ice cream shop,' then go to Berthillon in Paris. If they love scotch, take them to Scotland's best distilleries," he says.
New York-based Lonely Planet author Ryan Ver Berkmoes (ryanverberkmoes.com) concurs, but adds a "start small" caveat to the plan. "Skip the passport and stay in Canada – but go someplace else. If you live in the Prairies, head to a coast. If you live on one coast, go to the other. Go to the Rockies and just marvel, or head east to PEI for the incredible seafood.
"You'll show them the amazing experiences they can have by leaving home. And if that works, branch out, get a passport and head even further."
For Chiang, persuading hesitant travellers has become a habit. She also helped convert homebody brother Michael. "I didn't have any real desire to travel and was afraid of being completely lost in another country with no idea of what to do," he says.
But when a co-worker recounted an Inca trail trip, the seed was planted. "I really enjoy hiking and his description caught my interest. I felt it was a hike I had to do sometime in my life. He also suggested combining it with the Galapagos," he says.
Michael took the plunge with an adventure tour company – a safety net that addressed his logistical fears – and the trip proved momentous. "The Galapagos had a huge variety of animals and islands and I tried snorkeling for the first time. The Inca trail was a different kind of beauty, with high mountains, clouded forests and impressive ruins. And seeing Machu Picchu was a reward I couldn't replicate anywhere."
Now planning trips to Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro and Europe's Camino de Santiago trail, he has his own sage advice for reluctant travellers.
"If you have a destination you've always dreamed about, make the commitment and book it. If you don't have a travel buddy, try a reputable tour company. Any worries and hassle will be far outweighed by the experience."
OUR READERS WRITE
- Find a new partner. Adele Malo
- Don’t. Leave them at home. There’s nothing worse than having a bad trip with a resentful partner who’s all “I told you I’d hate it.” @nikkibayley
- If your friend has a motorcycle entice him with ride around Costa Rica or the island of St. Maarten. Both have Harley dealerships that rent out new monsters for tourists. K.R. O’Brien
- Tempt them with promises to see/drink/experience their favourite band/scotch/sport during the trip. @LesliCKellow
- Find a friend who loves to travel and travel to your heart’s content. You can bring back great stories for your partner and he might be convinced to give travel outside Canada a try if he thinks he’s missing something great. Kathy Richardier
- If the concern is culture/language, suggest an English-speaking country. If the concern is a long flight, upgrade or plan a stopover. @OrgTransform
- Tell them: “If you don’t want to come you can stay home with the kids.” @smallandhungry
- Set aside the passport issue to begin with. Canada is a big world on its own. Keep it simple – small destination airport with easy car rental, no stress. Tried this first with my semi-reluctant spouse, and now she’s a regular world traveller with me, although we both agree air travel is now complete hell. Tim Moore
- Tie travel to the interests of the partner. For example: head to the U.S. for a baseball game; France for wineries; or Scotland for golf. @DearAnnTravels
- Cook the cuisine of the country you want them to visit with you. Then source local restaurants and eat there. @Whistlersnowpig
- Offer a barter contract: tell the reluctant traveller you will do certain favours if they travel (use your imagination). @fraueibl
- I was that reluctant partner. I decided by myself. Also, travel buddies don’t bring that kind of baggage. @gerbean99
- Play to their interests. My girlfriend loves animals so Antarctica was an easy sell. Same goes for foodies, history buffs etc. @MikeySadowski
- Keep encouraging them; watch travel shows together; bring up hobbies that could pique their interest in a new country (e.g. sports or food). My hubby was that reluctant person, now he goes everywhere with me. @desiglobetrottr
- Pictures of beautiful beaches perhaps? @finelinetravels
- Show them inspiring travel photography from the area and reassure them about the safety situation. It worked for me. @rtorourke
- Start small, like a road trip to the States. Then move onto big leagues like East Africa. @zendylanism
- Do research: find that one thing they would love to experience but is not available at home. Pyramids? Gotta travel. @elisabetheats
- Find examples of how your partner can benefit from the experience personally and professionally. There are lots of blogs online. @WaywardOllie
- If you can’t convince them, go solo. Travelling on your own is exhilarating; enjoy the adventure and a little “you time” instead. @Tours_By_Locals
- Therapy. @travelwriterNZ
- Take the Rocky Mountaineer train to Seattle for starters? Pick a theme for the trip and build a program around it. And assign research to get them involved. @JacquieLaRocque
- Heavy sedation? @dinnerwithjulie
- Hmmmm, maybe get a new partner. @CathyCurrie
- Get a less narrow-minded partner. @SnarkySteff
- Millions of people love travel. Fall in love with one. @roamingMcC
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