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!

48 thoughts on “Traveling Solo… When You’re Married”

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

      1. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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