During my trip to Iceland, I got a few questions asking what it’s like to be in a relationship that “allows” for solo travel. It wasn’t odd to be traveling solo, considering the majority of girls in my hostel were doing the same. Apparently, however, it’s only usual to travel solo if you’re single…
Obviously, I can’t speak for every couple. I just know that I could never be in a relationship where my significant other didn’t “allow” me to do something I’ve always had my heart set on. I understand that traveling solo as a female has its dangers and have heard the reasoning “my boyfriend/husband/s.o. would never let me go by myself because he’d be scared that x,y,z would happen.” This makes me cringe. It’s one thing for a woman to avoid it because of her own fear, but to put off your dreams for someone else’s fear is… well, sad. Another reason I’ve heard is “he/she won’t let me go because he/she doesn’t trust me.” Or “I don’t trust him/her enough to go.” These are signs of a deeper issue that should be addressed before you put off living your life.
To me, the only valid reason to not travel solo while in a relationship is because you just don’t want to. If you prefer to both save money and time off so that you both can travel together, then good for you! The way I view solo travel is simple. I have more time freedom than my significant other and a greater ambition to see the world. He knows this about me and encourages me to book trips that he can’t go on. I would love if we could experience each location together, but because that isn’t possible, I have come to embrace the perks of solo travel.
Here are the main pros & cons of solo versus couple travel:
Traveling alone pushes me further out of my comfort zone than having another person to lean on. I have to figure things out for myself and doing so makes me feel much more capable when facing the unknown. Traveling alone means I meet more people because I have to strike up conversations with strangers if I want human contact. I noticed that I comment on the scenery or events to whoever is standing around me when I would usually be telling these things to Nic. I also think trust in the relationship can be strengthened during this time. It shows that we are capable of existing separately, but choose to be together. I found myself wishing he was there, rather than being happy he wasn’t. As they say, absence makes the heart go fonder. Traveling alone gives me the opportunity to work on myself and bring back new stories. I think it keeps things interesting and I hope that Nic is able to embark on a trip of his own if he wants!
Because he is my best friend, I found myself a bit frustrated that I had to retell my experiences rather than he just being there to experience it too. Obviously, we can’t have it both ways. Traveling together means planning for the future and then creating memories together. It challenges us to think about the logistics and set saving goals. It can be both romantic and a reality check. We have to work through the jet lag and the frustrations that accompany maneuvering through a foreign country in order to deepen our relationship. It intensifies spontaneity, emotional connection, and makes you feel like a solid team when everything goes off without a hitch/you at least make it out alive.
From May – November of this year, all of my trips were without Nic. Throughout this period, we learned that it is key that he stays busy while I’m gone. We aren’t constantly texting and neither of us freak out if we don’t hear from each other. He knows that I will text or call when I can and vice versa. I make a point to let him know at night that I have safely made it back to wherever I’m staying. I send him pictures and tell him stories. He never guilts me for having fun. I ask about his day and encourage him to have fun without me too. We get to go on a trip together in April and I’m so very excited to have someone to share these experiences with!
If you want to travel, do it! Even if your significant other isn’t able to go with. Yes, you will miss each other and it may be a little tough, but having new experiences and spending time alone is so important and will only strengthen your relationship in the end. If you’re too nervous to go on your own, go on a girls trip! Just so you know, I’m always available!