When I travel solo whilst being in a relationship, I’m often confronted with questions and remarks like: “Oh… you have a boyfriend? Where is he?” “He lets you travel all by yourself? WTF?” Then follow the looks of disbelief and suspicion.
For some reason, there seems to be a misconception that only women who are single, travel solo. Or that if she does have a person in her life, it’s probably nothing serious. Married women alone on the road? No way… Impossible! And yet, we exist!
Now, I can understand why this may shock most non-western cultures as the idea of women traveling alone is a relatively unknown phenomenon in those areas. People there are just starting to get used to this concept. I can see why they would have a hard time imagining a woman leaving behind her boyfriend/husband for leisurely travel.
What surprises me is how people in the West, supposedly accustomed to female empowerment and independence, often have the exact same reactions. Men and women alike. They ask me if my husband “allows” it?
“Allows”? Seriously? What age are we living in? I may be married, but I aint no prisoner!
I love traveling with my partner but when he is not in the mood for travel or not in a position to do so, I don’t let that stop me from doing “my thing”. I just travel solo even though I’m in a relationship and this is why I love it:
Meeting a different crowd
When I travel with my other half, we tend to meet types of people we both enjoy. When I’m alone, I connect with a different crowd than I would if it wasn’t just me. As a duo, you (unconsciously) take each others personalities into account and you are less likely to start socialising with people you know your partner wouldn’t particularly get along with. I find myself making friendships with a wider range of people when I’m alone.
Reconnecting with myself
You’re on your own. There is no one else to take into consideration but you. You decide everything: where to go, what and when to eat, who to meet, whether or not to party… You can change your mind as often as you want, you’re the only one that matters.
That being said, there is no one to blame when things go wrong or when certain activities turn out to be dull. This pushes you to rediscover your likes and dislikes, your stronger and weaker points. There is no influence from your most trusted friend, which forces you to hear your own thoughts louder and clearer.
Indulging in those guilty pleasures
Some things, I rather not do when my partner is around. Mostly girly things or stupid quirks like chowing down a burger at Mc Donalds (or any other fast food chain) with a large coke, something he strongly opposes himself to. Even though I’m not a big fan either, every once in a blue moon, when on the road, I like to indulge in a nutrition less meal with a horrible ecological footprint. When he’s not around, I can do so shamelessly and enjoy evil without getting the “I can’t believe you’re actually going to eat this” glare.
In a relationship, you form a team, you become interdependent and learn to rely on each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Yet I find it important to remain functional when your other half is not around. We tend to forget how strong and capable we actually are on our own.
Dealing with scams, finding your way around town/a country, bargaining with your taxi driver… So many things are easier when there are two of you. By dealing with everything by myself, I find inner strength and learn to depend on myself again. There is no one to fall back on, you’re the one doing all the “work”. This evokes skills that may have been forgotten and it surely toughens you up. I had forgotten how fiercely I can bargain with hotel management, as Douglas would usually take care of finding a place to stay while I sat with the luggage.
Taking care of yourself on the road gives you a huge confidence boost. I believe that dealing with all the bullsh*t by yourself, only empowers you and makes you a more complete and interesting individual.
While this has nothing to do with having a relationship or not, it’s definitely worth a mention. Every time I travel alone, even if just for a few days, I always seem to land invitations to something unexpected or unusual. I’m not sure if the invitations are out of pity for a “lady with no friends or family, forced to travel alone” or if we are simply more approachable as solo travellers, but either way, I seem to find my way into the most -random- diverse activities. Weddings involving elephants, marlin fishing, photo shoots, secret turtle hatching spots, wool spinning, VIP champagne parties, coffee harvesting… As a couple, we get these kinds of invitations too, just not as frequently.
Admittedly, it’s not really a reason more than it is a consequence. Finding strength in yourself, having time for you as an individual and having the chance to miss each other, are elements that contribute to a warm reunion and a strengthened relationship. You have a suitcase full of new stories to tell each other and a revived realisation of your feelings towards one another. Adding in the heightened dose of trust, you’re left with a strong and healthy relationship. If all goes well, that is.
Here are some tips to help things run smoothly…
* Communicate before you leave. What are your expectations from one another, especially in term of communication during the trip. Roughly how often do you want to get a text/mail? Respect the terms.
* Don’t travel to your partner’s dream destination without him/her. Du-uh.
* Don’t stay away too long. Personally I found 10 days a perfect amount of time. Longer than 12 days starts to feel a bit too much. But everyone is different, do what works for you.
*Bring along a picture of you together. Some people will think you’re making up this boyfriend/husband. It might save you a lot of hassle to be able to present a photo of the two of you.
* Ladies, the fake (or real for that matter) wedding ring trick doesn’t cut it anymore! If you’re going to lie, better make it count. Add some fake children to your story to be seen as off the market.
* When approached by someone who seemingly has dodgy ideas, never admit you are traveling alone. Your husband/friends/ whatever are waiting for you in the hotel.
Have you ever leisurely traveled solo while being in a relationship? Would you?
The post “Why I travel solo even when I’m in a relationship” first appeared on Travel Cake.
Great post Sarah! I think it is important to still be able to be your own person and be able to enjoy your interests irregardless of being in a relationship. 😀
Thanks Chanel! Girl power! 😉
Interesting read! And what a coincidence…Even my latest blog post is about solo travel. 🙂 I totally agree with you that a woman/man can travel alone even if he/she is married. I think it’s romantic in its own way. Imagine getting back home all mushy…;-)
Thanks Renuka! I’ll check out your article, I’m curious about your insights!
I’ve never traveled solo (gasp!). Even before I got married, I always traveled with friends or family. BUT, I did move across the country by myself (if that counts). I’ve never had a desire to travel solo. I know that I’m capable of it, but I much prefer sharing my travel experiences with others – especially with Jave now that we are married. But kudos to you for maintaining your solo travels!
No shame in that! I’ve met lots of people who tried it and didn’t like it. Some thing you don’t even have to try to to know whether you’ll enjoy it or not. It’s good to know that about yourself. Do what you enjoy most! 🙂
This is great advice. I travel solo but I’ve been single for a while now. I’d like to think I’d still go off on trips on my own if I had a relationship.
If it’s something you enjoy, I hope so too! As long as you can do what seems right for you! 😀
Love this post! I am single now, but I have been in a relationship and traveling solo. I just love the feeling of independence and not having to take anyone else into consideration but myself. We live in a time where there is so much pressure and we all have so much responsibilities, that it just feels like heaven to wake up and make up your plans for that day as you go along. Or making plans a few days ahead and than changing them last minute.
The best way for me to travel is to book a flight and a place to stay for the first night and after that just see where life is taking me! Can’t wait for my next trip!
I wish you many happy holidays (with and without your husband)!!
Thanks Marieke! We’re on the same page here; ultimate travel independence! 🙂 I wish you an exciting next trip!!
I love this. People find this so hard to grasp though. When I was in my most serious relationship, my partner decided to travel around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for a month with his friend and everyone around us couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going with him. They were like, ‘Aren’t you angry or upset? Why didn’t you go with him? Is there something wrong between you too?’ I tried to explain that we were both two independent people in a relationship who had to have their own experiences too but no-one seemed to get it. I thought it was just us and that maybe it was a ‘strange’ thing to have done. But I guess not. 😀 Really happy to see this.
Thats great! I’m happy to hear there are more people out there with the same views on the subject. My husband went to Nepal for 3 months without me as I couldn’t free myself for that long. I had the exact same reactions you did. Shrug the shoulders and do your thing 🙂
I love this post. There are certain places that my boyfriend rather no visit so I can visit those on my own but more than anything its healthy to have some time to your self which can also take the shape of a bit of solo travel. Like you said doing whats comfortable for you.
I Totally agree!
Great post. There is no reason why one cannot travel alone, no matter if you’re in a relationship. I’m so glad you wrote a post like this: love it! I love travelling alone and basically for all the reasons you list. I love being to do whatever I want; it’s so much fun!!
To doing whatever you want, hear hear! 🙂
This is nice. I absolutely agree to you. We really need to have time for ourselves to reflect and enjoy the beauty of life on our own and discover new things. As for me, I can have this “me time” in travelling places but most of the time, I want to share it with my husband.
Yes, me too. If I had to choose, I would chose to share the trip with a loved one. But had I to chose between a trip with my love or no trip at all… Well, alone it is! 😀
great post! I’m happily single, but when i do get into a relationship, i still plan to travel by myself!
That’s great! Especially if you find a partner that can understand your need for some solo travel from time to time.
There are fathers that say that the wife is most likely to cheat when traveling and working abroad. It’s easy. Local men throw themselves at her. Have you seen The Other Man with Liam Neeson and Antonio Banderas for instance? Anyway, that’s the reason why some men won’t let women work out of the house nor travel alone abroad. There’s also some men who say that they don’t trust women to do those things. It’s hard to trust a woman who is well-traveled, well-cultured, and multilingual because it’s easy for her to cheat.
That’s indeed one of the logics some people have. Keeping women uncultured to make sure she doesn’t cheat, isn’t the way to go though. I guess it’s all about trust. I believe the more emancipated and happy a woman is, the less she will feel the need to look for valuation outside of herself, thus lessening the need to be with another man. A relationship that is based on fear that the other one will find someone better, more exciting, is a relationship that needs be worked on. That’s just my opinion. Thanks for sharing yours!
Sometimes it’s great to travel solo, at other times it’s great to travel with friends or partner. I’ve traveled with a group which was fun, but was subject to timetables and all that, then I’ve traveled alone or with my little girl which was fun, as you have more room to just set out and go, or with my lil one, there are experiences we both enjoy and can talk about, plus she is great with the camera and can take really cool shots, whereas if alone, I have to keep asking people and can’t insist on a second shot if they haven’t taken a good shot. My last trip coincidentally, she was asked to wait for me in the tea room while I got myself mud treatment and the lady didn’t quite know how to handle the camera so I got only one good shot, and the first thing I told me daughter is that, “I wish you came with me to the mud treatment room, the lady couldn’t take pics and my hands were covered in mud so couldn’t direct her…haha!”
Your private photographer, what a star you are 😉 I’m just like you, when I’m in the picture, I want it to be done right. That’s one of the few down side of travelling solo: the picture taking… But I have found there is always a way to get it done 🙂
But what if your girlfriend wants to travel with you but cant afford it, and you want to experience traveling alone for several months? Is that being a bad boyfriend?
I came across this article while searching for a canchanchara recipe. I’m glad to see this! I have a few months off of work every year and spend it traveling. I’m always up front about this in relationships, but inevitably, I’ve gotten the same “WTF” reactions you and Ceri above did from girlfriends’ friends, and more recently, even the U.S. Customs agent!
Wow, even the customs agent? Haha, you we’re probably instantly put on the “suspects-list” 😉
Your blog is so amazing! I’ve been reading most of it for hours now and it is just so inspiring! Thank you for writing!
I’m currently living in South Korea for four months without my boyfriend, and I have travelled solo before – and it is just so nice. I love travelling with him too, but when the timing is not there of course you should just go by yourself. And I totally agree with how the experiences differ. Single women are proably the least intimidating thing to other people – sometimes I have wished I was a man when travelling because it is easier – but still, I’ve ended up in sooo many wierd and wonderful situations, maybe because of my gender 🙂
Thanks Nanna! I completely agree with the gender thing! 🙂 It’s very courageous of you to live in S.Korea without your boyfriend for a while! It must be quite a challenge to start a life there as a solo female. Good luck and keep doing what you love!
This was a great post to find. I’m currently in a relationship and leaving on my first solo trip in 15 days to italy and my bf is having a tough time excepting.
I’ve planned this for a year and he knew. I don’t feel bad about going…
If I were to wait for him, or anyone for that matter, I’d never go.
Thanks for the post 🙂
That’s right, I feel the same:waiting for people to start doing your thing, makes you wait forever! I wish you the most amazing time in Italy! Bon voyage!
Great post! Everyone should travel solo at least once :).
Hell yeah! 😀
Hi there I love this post. I myself am off on an adventure next year. 1 month in Cambodia and Thailand then Europe and the likes for 4 months before heading home. I’ve been worried about doing it for that long without the love of my life but she’s at university and I’m gettin to the age where it’s now because I put it off for the last 10 years of my life
Very understandable. I hope the love of your life understands too and that you will both find a way to make it bearable. Good luck and Bon voyage!
It seems a little late reply but I m traveling solo now. I love your post. Most people here think that I am single but I am In a very serious relationship. I don’t carry the word “boyfriend” around me all the time when I meet people but deep down in my heart I know I will never cheat on my boyfriend and I won’t! I love your post because many of my friends where asking me why am I traveling by myself and why do my boyfriend allows me. We trust each other and we are both independent. I love traveling with him but I love some alone time and make my own plans. Your post just make me smiles! Just wanna cheers to you as a female solo traveler!!!
I actually met more solo female travelers than male. So yeah!! Girl power!! 🙂
I’m so glad I travel with him and without him ! Both ways of traveling have their perks !
Definitely GO if you have a particular interest in a place but your partner doesn’t. I just did Thailand solo and had a blast ( we is more interested in other destinations but I just couldn’t wait on it ) !
Nice post !
Thanks Amanda! I agree with you, it’s so nice to be able to do both with and without partner! Glad to hear you enjoyed Thailand! 😀
I am in the best relationship I have ever had in my life, and my boyfriend loves to travel too. But when he could not clear his schedule in March, I decided that I would journey forward since March is always my month to go somewhere. Being the loving, trusting boyfriend, other than missing me to death, he supported my decision and was super happy for me. It was the reaction given to me by people who assumed that I would no longer travel alone since I now got me a boyfriend, made me feel like I had to qualify and explain that there was absolutely nothing wrong with our relationship, that he just wasn’t able to come with this time.
Like everything you said, traveling alone even though you’re in a relationship is a thing you do for yourself. The sense of independence and having to solve all problems, big or small, by yourself, is for sure the most empowering thing one can do. It also makes you appreciate your partner, as for every experience you think to yourself, “I just wish he could’ve been here to see/hear/taste” whatever it is, you renew that affection you have for him.
I have recently begun dating someone who travels alone very often. We have been dating 4 months and he has already gone away 5 times from 5 days to 10 days. He says he has a little travel addiction. Can go away 12-20x a year. This amount of travel has left me pretty lonely, somewhat insecure and unfortunately I am just not cut out for this type of relationship.
How often do you go away?
Hey!! I stumbled upon your blog while researching on Albania as I am planning to visit Albania and Montenegro this summer… I can relate to this post 100% and in fact I blogged about my experiences as a solo traveler too in the recent past.
You have a lovely blog and amazing pictures!!!
Thank you Ramani! Wow, lucky you –> Enjoy your trip to Albania and Montenegro!