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Traveling Solo… When You’re Married

We talk a lot about solo female travel here and around the internet in general. I think that’s great, but there is a subsection of travelers who are often left out of that conversation: the women who are in committed relationships but travel alone anyways.

Yes, we exist.

I have been married for over two years now and it is great. I love being married, although truthfully it’s not that different from before we tied the knot. We hang out, we laugh, we cook dinner, we plan adventures and we plan our lives.

In the past two years however, I’ve taken something like a half dozen solo trips to places like Canada, Sri Lanka and Boston. Mike stayed home in Seattle. Many of these were work related, but even if they weren’t I would probably still travel without my husband at least some of the time.

To me, that is not weird, but to others it has been very hard to grasp. Here are a few reasons that I occasionally choose to travel solo:

Married Doesn’t Mean Merged

Enjoying sunny Sri Lanka sans Mike

When Mike and I got engaged quite a few people asked me if we were going to merge our blogs. This question always perplexed me for a few reasons. One, it’s not great business strategy (two blogs make more money than one), and two, we’ve discovered over the years that we are great at working in close proximity but not that great at collaboration. We like to keep our work sepeate.

But most importantly, we are still separate people with different business, writing and travel styles. Getting married wouldn’t change that.

Fast forward a few years and I was right. We are most definitely a team, but we are individuals as well.  Two independent people with separate interests, hobbies and styles. Our goals are the same but the way we get there differs. We both have jobs that keep us busy and involve travel. It’s not feasible for us to always accompany each other, and we would never want to hold each other back.

Time Apart is Healthy

Mike and I have had an admittedly unorthodox relationship history. The first year of it was characterized by long periods of intense togetherness punctuated by long stretches on separate continents. We survived that somehow and then moved into several years of basically living on top of each other. We travel together, we hang out together and we both work from home- and our last apartment was 500 square feet. Cozy.

So we get plenty of together time. But we also value our individuality and one of the ways we preserve that is through time apart. Mike has his meetups and his coworking space, I have my friends and various work related stuff.

And we have travel. So if I want to spend a week in Alaska with my Mom or go on a work trip to Sri Lanka or accidentally wander around Barcelona for a few days, then our relationship will be all the better for it.

I Like Solo Travel

Exploring the Plain of Jars in Laos back in 2011

This one is the most important.

All those years I was banging on about the benefits and hidden bonuses of solo travel, it wasn’t just because I didn’t have anyone to go with me. I love traveling with Mike and sharing experiences with him, but I also genuinely enjoy traveling alone. I like setting my own schedule, I like wandering aimlessly, and I like listening ot my own needs without worrying about anyone else’s. I like the pure selfishness of it. And I like the opportunity for growth and self-discovery that solo travel affords. Those moments are rare in real life, but travel makes them possible.

I’ve traveled solo all throughout our relationship, and I like to think that independence is one of the qualities that drew Mike to me. So why would stop now?

It Makes the Reunion That Much Sweeter

Exploring Hyde Park in London

I’d be 1000% lying if I said I didn’t miss Mike when I’m away. I really really do. I think that it’s important to go away once in awhile so that I CAN miss him and remember the many reasons I love him so much. The reunion is so much sweeter that way.

Not to mention the present buying opportunities! I love picking up little trinkets for Mike on my travels and he does the same. He brought me a thick alpaca sweater from Ecuador, and I brought him a lucky fish banner from Japan.  It’s always nice to know someone is thinking about you across the world.

I’m Not the Only One

You might say that Mike and I have a unique relationship, but I don’t really think so. I think there are actually plenty of men and women out there who travel solo despite being in a relationship, either because their partner can’t come, doesn’t want to come or for some other reason.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, because I’ve seen a couple articles on the subject over the past few months:

Married Travellers: Why I Still Love Flying SoloNotes of Nomads

No, I Do Not Need my Husband’s Permission to Travel AloneTo Europe & Beyond

Married Solo Travel: Here’s How it WorksThe Suitcase Scholar

Traveling Solo While in a Relationship at HomeTwenty-Something Travel (by Kay)

Are you in a relationship and choose to travel solo? Tell me about it in the comments!

43 Responses to Traveling Solo… When You’re Married

  1. Jen Glass November 18, 2015 at 2:44 PM #

    Thank you for posting this, and the related links as well. It’s great to know there are other women out there struggling with the same nagging questions like “your husband allows you to do this?” and the assumption that because we’re not doing thing together, that we’re unhappy. I love to travel and my husband doesn’t, besides laying on a beach. Plus, solo travel is the way to go.

    • Steph November 19, 2015 at 7:45 PM #

      People who ask me that question usually get an icy stare. My husband “lets” me do whatever I want because he’s not the boss.

      • Adrian September 2, 2016 at 6:25 AM #

        Hey nice 2 hear but being a male and luv travelling alone.I too get d stereotype question.”how does ur wife allow u 2 travel alone”or “how can u leave her alone n go on treks”or”is everything ok in ur marriage”.

  2. Tara November 18, 2015 at 2:49 PM #

    I absolutely love this article. My relationship didn’t stop me from moving to Ireland for a month or backpacking Europe for two weeks by myself. It certainly didn’t stop me from buying a one-way ticket to New Zealand where I will spend nearly all of 2016. Traveling solo is a big part of self-love in my book and you can’t truly love someone else until you love yourself.

    • Edna November 18, 2015 at 3:20 PM #

      I love this comment! Especially that last sentence, it’s SO true.

  3. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas November 18, 2015 at 2:57 PM #

    I am recently married and have a husband who travels for work a LOT (in three months, we’ve spent less than 5 weeks together!). Because I am a teacher, I never travel for work, meaning loads of weekend trips around Europe and back home to see my family in the US. Thankfully, he is fully supportive of my traveling – we also keep our finances pretty separate, which gives me leverage – and I don’t think I’d feel like myself without traveling. Great, spot-on post.

    • Steph November 19, 2015 at 7:46 PM #

      It’s the finances that I think can make things tricky for some people. Great that you have that freedom!

  4. Edna November 18, 2015 at 3:19 PM #

    Joe and I are the same, over our 2.5 year relationship we’ve been either in each other’s pockets for months at a time, or separated/solo traveling for months at a time. He started traveling full-time before I did, and is quite introverted, so he really loves the alone time in solo travel.

    Plus, our careers both involve travel and can’t always include each other, so we have to do what’s in our best interest — i.e. not turn down a job or opportunity just because of a person. In fact, starting in January we’re probably going to separated again as he goes to Asia/Australia for business and I try to find sports work in Europe!

  5. Dalene November 18, 2015 at 5:46 PM #

    I am making it a goal in 2016 to do some solo travel. Now, to convince Pete…

    • Steph November 19, 2015 at 7:47 PM #

      That’s a good goal! Should make for interesting articles if nothing else.

  6. Suzanne Fluhr November 18, 2015 at 6:14 PM #

    This might sound really harsh, but leaving our dog is more of an issue when I do a solo trip because my husband has a day job he has to leave our apartment to go to and his work days are usually at least 10 hours. I work at home. This means if I’m away, dog care has to be covered somehow. If we’re both away, we can get someone to house/dog sit, but my husband doesn’t want to have to share his space with someone else in the evenings and weekends if I’m away. The longest I’ve traveled alone has been for 2 weeks. We’re empty nesters, married for over 33 years. When we had young kids, we each had to do some independent travel for work, but we knew that meant we were leaving the other with a lot more on their plate. I realize that most regulars on this site probably don’t have children yet. If you are planning to have some, do you think you’ll still accept opportunities requiring you to spend weeks or months away from your family? I’m kind of relieved to have ours launched, so I don’t have to worry about that.

    • Steph November 18, 2015 at 6:54 PM #

      Right now our limit is about 2 weeks apart. Then we start missing each other too much. We just got a dog, so that might change things up a bit too.

  7. Helen November 18, 2015 at 6:45 PM #

    I love to travel solo, even though I’m married. A month after I got married I was offered a job in Zambia and it was too good an opportunity not to go. I also went travelling alone for 9 months whilst we were together too and still take a number of trips alone each year. It’s part of who I am and luckily he accepts that! 🙂

  8. Julia November 19, 2015 at 11:48 AM #

    Thank you for this article. It is so important to acknowledge that solo travel is not just for single women!

  9. Elizabeth Hampton November 19, 2015 at 11:52 AM #

    Great article! My husband and I both solo travel and it’s great. We enjoy our trips together and having someone to share it with, but we are also both very independent people and sometimes with work and other obligations it just makes sense that we travel seperate from time to time. 🙂

  10. Marie @ To Europe And Beyond November 19, 2015 at 1:07 PM #

    Thank you for writing such a brilliant and much needed post. Solo travel is not solely for bikini-clad 20-somethings backpacking through Europe. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner as much or that your relationship is any less valuable; it just means you *also* value alone time, which, to me, is absolutely essential. I wish more people could understand that!

    Glad to see I’m not the only married gal out there who still enjoys solo travel 🙂 Good for you! (And thanks for linking my post!)

  11. Ali November 19, 2015 at 1:31 PM #

    YES!! I really do prefer traveling with Andy, but there are things I love about solo travel. And I know it’s good for me, even when I’m in one of the more miserable moments of it. While we were planning our wedding a few years back, I was also planning a mostly-solo round the world trip. I traveled solo a little this past June, and I have more plans to take solo trips in the future. I think it’s good to keep some independence to remind yourself you can still stand on your own two feet. And for me, my travel passion is just a little bit stronger than Andy’s, so if there’s somewhere I want to go that he has no interest in, it makes sense for me to go alone instead of dragging him along. Glad you wrote this!

  12. Rease November 19, 2015 at 3:29 PM #

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years and we have maybe taken 4 trips together, all the rest is solo. I love it for all the same reasons as you! I also buy him gifts. In Iceland I bought a “surprise Christmas gift” from a year round Christmas shop. It was already wrapped so even I didn’t know what it was. Turns out it was a hot pink glitter covered star ornament. We can’t wait to put it on our tree!

    • Steph November 19, 2015 at 7:47 PM #

      I always buy christmas ornaments on my travels.

  13. Megan November 19, 2015 at 6:26 PM #

    I love this post, and the comments!! My husband and I have been together for nearly 8 years, married for one. A few months after we started dating I studied abroad, and then again six months later. Being apart is semi normal for us. Now, we both work from home and aside from his business travel and my personal travel, we’re together constantly. He’s my favorite travel buddy, but I also cherish my solo trips so much, even though I miss him terribly. It totally makes us appreciate each other more, too. Three weeks is about our limit, though I have been gone for much longer. Besides, I’m an only child and have always enjoyed my own company, and he’s an introverted engineer… We need a break sometimes 😉

  14. M November 21, 2015 at 2:18 PM #

    So many great points here, especially about giving one another time to miss each other! And imagine all of the exciting stories you can share together when you do reunite.

  15. Amanda November 22, 2015 at 10:44 PM #

    I can’t always travel with my guy since he works a corporate job and has pretty limited paid time off. But even if we COULD travel together all the time, I honestly don’t think I’d want to! Like you, I genuinely love solo travel – I love being able to call all the shots and never feeling bad about it. I love traveling with him, too, of course, but I can’t ever see myself giving up my solo travel.

    It does make it awkward sometimes, though – especially going through customs in certain countries (coughCanadacough). For some reason I’m automatically more suspicious if the immigration people learn that I’m in a relationship but traveling alone. Silly.

    • Steph November 23, 2015 at 12:01 PM #

      Weird. I always get hassled at Canadian customs so I never thought that might make a difference. I did notice that I got through UK customs with significantly less hassle when I went through WITH Mike in May. Guess they figured I wasn’t chasing some Brit at least?

  16. sofiecouwenbergh November 23, 2015 at 9:04 AM #

    Yes to this! Siemen and I have been together for over 9 years now, but we both travel solo several times a year. Well, I travel solo and with friends or family, while he goes on snowboarding trips with friends. And it definitely helps to ignite the fire again:)

  17. Katie November 23, 2015 at 10:28 AM #

    This is me too! I am engaged but am currently on a one year trip without my fiance as long term travel isn’t for him. I have done a few solo trips over the nine years we have been together but this is definitely the longest. I have split it into three parts with time at home with him in between and he is also meeting me twice for two-three weeks during my travels. I have really enjoyed being a solo female traveller although I have of course missed him.

    • Steph November 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM #

      Wow I love this! What a cool compromise. I’m glad you guys are making it work while still pursuing your passions.

  18. Kaitlin Throgmorton November 23, 2015 at 10:40 AM #

    I love this post! I think it helps when your relationship starts by involving travel, it just makes it feel more natural. Before we got married, my then-boyfriend and I dated each other while living 3,000 miles apart. It taught us to appreciate being together, but also taught us to appreciate the alone time. Now we travel together when we can, and we definitely plan certain trips that are meant for us to take together, but we also both intentionally and unintentionally travel without each other. Sometimes it’s because we need a little solo time, and sometimes it’s just because it doesn’t work for both of us to go. I think, like you said, it’s just healthy and the homecoming is always sweet!

  19. Jess Carey November 23, 2015 at 5:38 PM #

    And another one… I’m also married, very happily, and also still taking solo adventures. We travel together a lot, too, but sometimes I just want to take a trip on my own (being a classic textbook introvert, that’s my thing hehe). It still astounds me that people look at you weird, question the state of your marriage, or how your husband could “trust” you travelling alone… The only reason we’ve made it 11 years together is that we have our own interests and pursue our own passions alone from time to time! It’s so good to read that there are other amazing, strong women doing this – being a stay at home mum isn’t for everyone, so good on those of you who have a passion for travel and are still pursuing that!

  20. Vojtech November 24, 2015 at 12:27 PM #

    I am honestly jealous. It’s something completely unimaginable in my relationship and if i would go somewhere alone my GF would be upset as f*ck and possibly brake up with me. Yep,it’s sick,but i finally found out that it’s not gonna work like this and i am about to move on as she is literally holding me back….

  21. Margaret Piton November 25, 2015 at 9:06 AM #

    Why would anyone put up with a relationship where they couldn’t travel solo?

  22. kpilz November 27, 2015 at 8:33 PM #

    Thanks for a great article, my thoughts exactly! I just spent 10 months working as an Aid Volunteer in the Maldives and the relationship survived just fine (though admittedly it was harder on him than on me). Having been a solo traveler for most of my life, I need those solo travel breaks like fresh air; it’s what keeps me energised, focused and connected to myself. Ours is only a relatively young relationship and I wondered what to do about my travel blog which until now was pitched at female solo travelers. I considered making it a couple blog, but I like to keep my own voice and I like to keep my own blog. That’s when I decided to make it about women who crave solo trips to recharge the batteries. I met plenty of married women with kids on solo breaks in Sri Lanka this July. Thanks for the timely post
    Kerstin

  23. Lindsay Richards November 30, 2015 at 5:33 PM #

    We just returned from our Honeymoon at Playa-Escondida Resort in Sayulita, Mexico and I’m back at work, which isn’t actually as sad as it may sound. I’m 32 and finally content being in a stable job with a husband, a community of great friends and family and a steady paycheck (that even shows up after 10 days away from work) A week in Mexico felt like a 3 week vacation, what an amazing escape. And being free from the wedding planning was like a million bricks off my shoulders. Anyways, back to the topic at hand, traveling Solo vs. with my husband. After a week of fumbling through their language as much as I possibly could, (I took French in high school, don’t ask me why) I realized being married to someone who could correct my grammar mistakes and fill in my vocab blanks was so much fun! We made a great team. I can’t wait to learn more, and being that we live in Phoenix we don’t have to go far to immerse ourselves in the Mexican culture. We’ll go back someday, probably to volunteer in Sayulita. The honeymoon resort life is a once in a lifetime experience that I highly suggest, but with our humble lifestyle that probably won’t ever happen again. I just googled “Sayulita Orphanage” and I came across a blog post you did right before you moved to Mexico, right after YOUR wedding, 2 years ago! (congrats!) We got married a week ago, on Saturday Nov. 21st, 2015. After 14 years of traveling SOLO (in this case I mean without my husband) – I can’t imagine ever wanting to travel without my husband again. We were definitely meant to be together, though it was only in perfect timing that we are together now. He needed to get clean and straighten up some things gone astray in his path, and I needed to find the peace and contentment in my life that I had been searching for since I left home at 18. Traveling through his eyes was the most fun I have ever had on an overseas adventure. It was his first time outside the U.S. He got his passport specifically for our honeymoon, how special is that? I got to be the first person to go overseas with him. And we BOTH just had the best week of our lives! I used to only notice people, I talked to everyone when I traveled solo. I wanted to be with people, I surrounded myself with new friends and exchanged our crazy traveling stories. On this trip I noticed Ben and the things he was seeing and experiencing for the first time. Can you imagine? I went from only seeing people, learning about people, hearing people’s stories, to all of a sudden seeing what Ben sees. He’s a listener, he is the ying to my yang…truly. With him I watched the crabs sun bathing on the black lava rocks, then leaping into the crashing waves when they saw me coming their way. With Ben I picked up the smallest shell on the beach, to my surprise it was inhabited by a hermit crab. He blew the gentlest air toward the shell and out came the crab, ready to defend his home. It was so entertaining! I saw the fear in his eyes as I climbed huge boulders to discover the beautiful beach next to ours. I saw the anger in his face when I realized he didn’t want to climb the boulders, he only did it to watch over me and make sure I was being safe. I saw the joy in his eyes the first time he lifted his head out of the water when we went snorkeling together. His first of many future snorkeling trips I’m sure! I felt the love in his heart as he caught me in his arms jumping from the rocks escaping the crashing waves. I’m the advocate – he’s the protector. I’m the idealist, he’s the guardian. I’m the jumper, he’s the catcher. I have traveled to South Africa, England, The Netherlands, Jamaica, Bolivia, Mexico, Canada and just about every city and state in the U.S. (except Alaska.) I’ve snowboarded, skied, mountain biked, backpacked, river rafted, rock climbed, snorkeled, jet skied, wake-boarded, (tried to) surf, etc. But I have NEVER had as much fun as I did seeing the world through my husband’s eyes.

  24. Erin December 2, 2015 at 10:41 AM #

    Steph,

    Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I’m so grateful to have traveling friends who get it because most of my friends and family don’t. Some of them have learned over time that my husband and I are happy traveling together and apart but some of them still think that our relationship is in trouble because of how much time we are willing to spend apart. But, like you said, missing each other is essential to our relationship. Nothing is sweeter than those first couple of days after I get home from a trip. I made it clear to my husband from day one that long-term and/or frequent travel is important to me and I’m so lucky that he’s cool with it. I really thinks he loves getting to be a bachelor when I’m away.

    On the flip side, I love planning a trip that I know my husband will adore. He hates planning but enjoys travel so I get all warm and fuzzy working on trips we’ll take together.

    Your post is spot on. Love it.

  25. Vanshika Dutta December 16, 2015 at 3:27 AM #

    Really wonderful post. It very well explains the importance of solo traveling in an individual’s life whether married or not. I think that marriage deist change your basic personality or the things you love to do. I am a married lady and a proud solo traveller!

  26. lavie22 December 16, 2015 at 7:35 PM #

    THANK you for this post and linking to the others. My husband and I are planning long term travels for about a year.. but in the back of my mind I wonder, “Then what?” What if he doesn’t want to travel anymore, or as much as I do? The solution is so easy, that it’s almost ridiculous. So what? We’re different people. And, that’s A-OK 😉 Cheers!

  27. carly December 30, 2015 at 7:41 PM #

    I am in a relationship but have been wanting to do some solo trips, especially to visit friends that my bf doesn’t know. I know that for that sort of trip I would have much more fun alone. We also have a trip planned for next year to Hawaii and I am looking at sitting in seperate parts of the plane because he is such a cranky traveller. Have you ever known anyone to do that? I feel weird about it but I would rather not start the trip with arguing.

    • carly December 30, 2015 at 7:42 PM #

      We have a baby together too, meant to say that

      • Steph December 30, 2015 at 10:20 PM #

        I don’t think it matters if anyone else does it if it works for you guys! Mike always wants to sit near me on the plane but personally I don’t really care…we’re all going to the same place!

  28. Jo January 28, 2016 at 4:36 AM #

    Hi Steph, Very insightful and thought provoking blogpost. I have been traveling solo, though I am married for 3 yrs and in a relationship since 7. I often wondered why I am so selfish and why do I “still” want to travel solo (at times – not always). I found a lot of answers in your blog post and I totally agree with your thinking process. I am glad you have an understanding husband and mine is quite the same – we both get a lot of space , which is just amazing . I believe it is all a big plus for a healthy relationship 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  29. Hana May 18, 2016 at 12:31 PM #

    I could not agree more. Solo travel is something I have been doing for a long time. I travel all over the world for work. This is the reason our marriage has lasted. We don’t have any kids. My husband is an introvert and loves to be home. Thank you for posting this.

  30. Ed September 4, 2016 at 7:21 PM #

    Well I wondered if I was that unusual so thanks for bringing this up. Ed

  31. Samson white September 7, 2016 at 9:21 AM #

    Nice escape to get laid. Man travelling alone after marriage or women… they are getting laid.. and like how.. simple as that.

  32. Ape September 15, 2016 at 5:07 PM #

    I am really happy I came across this post. I love my husband and we have a great relationship but he hates traveling but he doesn’t want to deprive me of the world. I am not a seasoned traveler by any means. I am actually in my 30’s and have never stepped foot in Europe (sad, right?!?). I am currently planning my gap year set for 2018 and my husband is helping me research my trip. We are also fortunate that he gets a lot of vacation time so he will be able to meet me while I am globe trotting. Thanks again for your post. It puts my mind at ease knowing there are happily married couples/globe trotting spouses out there 🙂

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