Whenever I travel for fun, without my husband, I get two kinds of responses. Either, “That’s such a healthy, strong relationship” or “Wow, you’re husband let you go?” First off, my husband and I don’t tend to tell each other what we can and cannot do. Secondly, yes, I’m happily married in a strong and healthy relationship.
My husband and I actually met when we were both living abroad, solo. I had moved to Panama and was meant to be backpacking South America when I got an incredible job as a tour guide and decided to stick around. He was ready to leave Colombia and also ended up going first to Panama. We clicked but thought it was going to be more of a holiday romance than something serious. After a few months, we went our separate ways only to meet up again in Europe months later.
If I solo traveled before getting married, am I expected to stop after saying “I do?”
I’ll go ahead and answer that one for you, no. No way. Marriage for me has been fun. It’s been agreeing to spend the rest of my life with my best friend but that shouldn’t mean either one of us needs to sacrifice our passions or that we have to spend every day together.
If you and your spouse don’t agree with this, grab a beer and read these 5 reasons you should solo travel. It will hopefully give you both a new insight or at the very least give you talking points to start a dialogue.
1. Space is a healthy part of any marriage
I’m not suggesting you sleep in different bedrooms or spend more time apart than together. Rather, I’m simply suggesting weekends (or weeks) away can be good for your relationship. I really enjoy telling my husband stories and listening to him. What makes better stories than a solo trip? I’ll send him pictures and updates but we like to wait to tell the really funny or interesting stories when we’re back home and snuggling on the couch.
Spending time by yourself is also a good side effect of space. Making all the decisions by yourself can be a nice break or even a challenge if you’re used to compromising.
2. You’re still an individual, just inside of a couple
On paper, my husband and I are pretty opposite. He’s a big nerd who loves chaotic cities and I’m a bum that loves outdoor adventures. We overlap in some senses and have been traveling the world together for the past 4 years. But sometimes it’s really amazing to have a trip fueled by only the things you love, without worrying if your partner is having fun.
A few years ago, we lived in Seoul. My husband loves everything about Japan– the culture, the anime; he even speaks the language. I could happily eat sashimi for every meal but that’s as far as I had thought about it. I was working full-time in Seoul and could only go to Japan for a long weekend. It was impossible for me to think that just because I could only go for 4 days that he could do the same. Japan was his dream! So, he went for a month and I joined him for a long weekend at the end of his trip. It was fun for him to play tour guide with me and we both flew back to Seoul happy.
Earlier this year, we had a similar situation with the Philippines. I’ve been dreaming of the Philippines since the first time I saw pictures as a child. I wanted to get as remote as possible and stay as long as I could get away with. We both went together and stayed for a few weeks scuba diving, getting lost on scooters in the jungle, and simply relaxing. He went home early. I hopped on a sailboat that would take me off the grid for almost a week. Although he would have enjoyed the boat trip, as I would have enjoyed a month in Japan, he had other things he wanted to spend that money on. So fair is fair. I went on the boat trip and he went home and enrolled in an extensive design course. We were both happy with our decision and that’s really what should be important in a marriage.
3. It’s not about testing your trust but building on it
A lot of times when I hear the response, “Your husband let you go?” I dig a little more. I play dumb and ask a lot of innocent questions to get to the root of that question. Almost always the subtext is, “Your husband trusts you to travel alone?” and I guess alternatively, “You trust your husband to be home without you?”
Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes.
I wouldn’t have married a man I didn’t trust to spend a few days solo and I know my husband would say the same about me. We’re very upfront with each other and know that’s not something we need to worry about. Not once did I think of either of our solo trips as an excuse to get some space to flirt, cheat or test our limits.
4. Having respect for each other goes a long way
On that same note, we respect each other. I respect his decision to want to spend a month in Japan and he respects my decision to want to go on the boat trip, even knowing we’d be doing it without the other.
I respect his judgement, I respect his choices. And it’s a two-way street.
I don’t expect him to sit in his hotel room and not go out and experience the culture, just as he doesn’t expect me not to have a few drinks and mingle with the other tourists.
If this is your first time traveling solo as a married couple, it could be a nice start to set some ground rules. For example, if you’d like to hear from your partner at least once a day- tell them! Ask for a morning call with their plan for the day or a nighttime summary of what they did.
Just be respectful that they are on a solo trip and don’t expect them to be on their phone chatting with you 24/7.
Be open to re-evaluate what works and what didn’t after you’re back home together. Some things might have made you uncomfortable while others were unnecessary. Also, understand that each trip might be a little different from the last.
5. Solo traveling is an amazing way to grow
I love traveling by myself. I love it because it makes me uncomfortable. It forces me to entertain myself and it’s an opportunity to really get to know myself without any pretext.
More than anything though, solo traveling forces me to grow and honestly. I’d never want either one of us to stop growing.
Cheers to a happy marriage!