I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Bhutan, Bangkok and Laos, where I hiked up Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro, tried some delicious street food from a floating market near Bangkok and watched the morning alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang. I created all of these new memories without my husband by my side.
Once you say “I do” and sign the marriage paperwork, most people assume that you’ll be glued at the hip for the rest of your life. Just because you get married doesn’t mean you should give up the things that you’re most passionate about.
Some of the most frequent comments I hear while traveling sans husband include: “He’s actually letting you go by yourself?,” “My husband would divorce me if I ever went on a trip without him,” “Isn’t he worried sick about you all by yourself,” “Don’t you get lonely without him,” “I’d never let my wife ever travel without me.” My husband knew that I have a huge case of wanderlust before we got married and that I would travel with him as well as on my own. So no, I don’t ask for his permission before I book a trip and I’m thankful to be married to someone who accepts me as I am.
So why do I enjoy traveling without my husband?
Sometimes I want to go somewhere my husband has zero interest in visiting. For instance, India has never been high on his list and it would be a huge waste of money to pay for both of us to go. Instead, I went on my own and splurged on business class tickets for the long flight. On the other hand, if there’s a destination that I know he really wants to visit (Japan, for example), I’ll hold off on planning a trip until I know that we can both visit.
I actually like traveling solo. The amount that you learn about yourself while traveling solo is incredible and you’ll be forced to step outside your comfort zone. You don’t have someone else to rely on so you have to get creative in solving problems. When I was almost denied boarding on a Druk Air flight from Delhi to Bhutan due to a typo in my visa, I had to take charge of the situation and figure out how to fix the situation without anyone else’s help.
I’m a huge introvert and have always struggled with confidence and assertiveness. Traveling solo has helped me face my fears and I’ve brought these skills back with me to my daily life. I’ve learned to stop worrying about all the “what ifs” and just go.
I meet more people. Romantic vacations for two are great for reconnecting but not for forming life-long friendships with other travelers from around the world. Whenever I’m traveling solo or joining a group trip like Intrepid Travel, I meet like-minded people who often become very close friends. I’ve also noticed that locals will often up to me in a way that doesn’t happen when I’m traveling for others. While driving out to the Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos, my driver shared his life story with me, starting with stealing money from his family so that he could leave and get an education. That’s not to say that connecting with others doesn’t happen with you’re traveling as part of a pair but I definitely experience more openness when I’m on my own.
I have different interests. Sometimes I want to book an all-day horseback riding excursion through the mountains, followed by a street food tour in the evening with a 5am wakeup call the next day to photograph sunrise. A trip like that would exhaust my husband and make him fairly grumpy. I often like to relax and slow down but there are times when I want to maximize every minute of my vacation time and that style doesn’t always work for other people.
I’m thankful that my husband is supportive and encouraging when it comes to my worldwide adventures. I’ve had quite a few married friends over the years who were yearning to get out and explore the world but their spouse was reluctant to let them go. They always say that maybe next year, they’ll finally book that trip they’ve been dreaming about.
Stop waiting around for it to happen. Book your dream trip now. Your marital status should have absolutely no bearing on pursuing your passion. If your passion is traveling, even if your spouse doesn’t want to join you, you should feel supported and encouraged to discover the world.
Rebecca is a part-time traveler and blogs at awayfromtheoffice.com.