Couples travelling solo. That seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Why would you travel by yourself, when you found your significant other?
Those who know Nick and I are aware that it’s our shared passion for travel that brought us together. That was in 2005 – and 12 years later, we are still going strong. We went on our first trip together to Australia, then we had lots of weekend getaways from London when we both lived there, and even shared a crazy two-year backpacking adventure across South America, South East Asia and India.
After relocating to Italy, we kept travelling, first part time, and then full time from 2015 onwards. We’ve had our share of misadventures – like when we got lost in Taman Negara and very nearly spent the night in the jungle. We have also had some extreme experiences – ice swimming in Finland, bungee jumping in Italy and road tripping Madagascar on taxi-brousses, to name just a few.
Our Solo Travel Experience
Yet, there is one thing we’ve never experienced – solo travel.
Sure, we’ve been on some press trips without one another – for instance, I went to Jerusalem and Nick to Raja Ampat (yes, I’m still jealous!), but that doesn’t really count as solo travel, does it?
To be honest, travelling solo does scare me a bit. I love talking and socialising, but I’m not very good at ‘making friends’ – when I find myself alone at a party, my first instinct is to mind my own business. Not to mention that I hate sleeping alone – it’s something that makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.
However, I firmly believe that we shouldn’t run away from what scares us. We should welcome the challenge with open arms. For this reason, I have decided I will go on a solo trip before I turn 35 – no, that doesn’t mean in 10 years time, it means next year! I still don’t know where, or when, or for how long – but I will do it.
How to Travel Alone – a Travel Coaching Manual
To prepare myself for this adventure, I recently read a book titled How to Travel Alone, a travel coaching manual written by a dear friend of mine, the Italian travel blogger and travel coach Francesca Di Pietro. Francesca is a truly remarkable woman, who left a stable job for the adventurous life os a digital nomad, and travels solo most of the time, also organising retreats in various parts of the world like Bali and South Africa.
What sets Francesca and her book apart from the multitude of solo travel bloggers is her background as a psychologist. Francesca views travel, especially solo travel, as a key moment of personal growth, where one can explore one’s fear and lear how to challenge them – and when your biggest fear is being alone, travelling solo becomes the best way to face it.
The book covers all first-timers need to know about travelling solo – not just practical stuff like how to plan your trip, how to pick the perfect destination and how to pack. The book also discusses the ‘why’ behind the decision to travel solo, and helps the reader harness the power of this transformative experience and apply it to daily life.
The section I liked best was when Francesca talks hiking as a metaphor for the challenges we face in life. Just like Francesca, I started hiking as an adult, and ever since I have enjoyed the ‘meditative’ aspect of hiking, as well as the sense of achievement I experience when reaching my destination.
I won’t reveal too much, though – let me just say that Francesca’s book is an excellent resource for anyone planning to travel solo for the first time. It’s also available both in Italian as Come Viaggiare da Soli, in paperback and Kindle editions.
17 Bloggers Share Experiences on Travelling Solo
Meanwhile, to show the world (and to convince myself) that solo travel is something that should be experienced also when you’re in a relationship, I’ve decided to ask fellow bloggers about their experiences of travelling without their significant other. 17 of them replied – here are their stories!
Stefan – Nomadic Boys
Travelling as a couple sure is intense. You’re together 24/7, whereas back home you’d most likely go your separate ways in the morning when you leave for work and reunite in the afternoon.
Whilst travelling together brings you closer in so many ways, it can also be a bad thing if you don’t factor in alone time every so often. We recently did this during our trip in Colombia when I travelled alone to Cartagena for a weekend visit whilst Sebastien had to return briefly to France for an urgent family matter.
Whilst I love Sebastien with all my heart, having alone time in Cartagena was a lot of fun and an important reminder for the need to make time for yourself. I chose when to wake up, where to eat, what time to do what I wanted with no one else to consider other than myself. Time apart also makes you miss your other half a great deal, which makes the reunion even more special.
Priya – Glorious Sunrise
I love traveling solo and even after entering a relationship that did not change too much. My partner and I bonded really fast because of our love for travel. And we do take some trips together too, but we do not hold back each other from exploring solo.
Even after marriage I traveled solo and enjoyed my adventures a lot. My very first solo trip after marriage was a hiking adventure in the Royal National Park near Sydney, Australia which was amazing!
Being amidst natural settings definitely energizes the body and mind. When you travel solo to any place without too many people, you certainly feel peaceful. Your mind is relaxed and you feel refreshed.
Traveling solo also boosts your confidence levels. It allows you to realize what you can do when it is necessary. You learn so much about yourself when you are traveling by yourself. You would learn to be strong in any situation without depending on your partner for everything. This is what I love about traveling solo, it teaches independence.
Mike C – Travel and Destinations
Over the last few years I have been travelling solo more often, despite being in a relationship. I’ve been on short trips, such as a few days, to longer trips of two weeks or more.
Being able to travel solo whilst in a relationship is great, as you can then do your own thing, such as go on a trip your partner would definitely not enjoy. For example last year in 2016 I visited India for two weeks and this is a destination that my girlfriend isn’t keen on. I also travel very differently to my girlfriend, and like to spend all day on my feet exploring and seeing everything that a destination has to offer, while my girlfriend prefers to relax on a beach, shop, or sit and people watch at a cafe. In the past on some trips we took together, we wanted to do different things when we were there, this resulted in us arguing and having a lot of disagreements. Since then we have realised the kind of trips we should do together, and the kind of trips we should do apart.
Overall I think it’s good to travel sometimes with your partner and sometimes on your own, depending on what you want to get out of the trip. Having time apart is also good for a relationship, and I have found that whenever I return me and my girlfriend feel closer than before, as it makes you realise how much you miss them.
Mike H – Bemused Backpacker
Paulina – Paulina on the Road
A few years ago I moved from Luxembourg to Madrid, Spain to live with my boyfriend and ended up being fired after working my butt off during 1 year. Well better said, my contract couldn’t be extended due to the financial situation of the company. I was undergoing a crisis. I felt like I had lost control over my life.
Since I can remember, traveling has been my best medicine. But this time nobody had the time to travel with me. On the other hand I just couldn’t stay entire August in Madrid and search desperately for a new job. That’s how I ended up booking spontaneously the cheapest ticket to wherever: Ponta Delgada, Azores.
Of course my boyfriend wasn’t happy about it. He was worried and preferred to protect me, as always. But after seeing how miserable I was staying at home crawling the internet for jobs, he finally encouraged me to change scenery for a while.
Travelling solo to São Miguel, the main island of the Azores, was the purifying experience I was looking for after undergoing a disruptive change in my professional life. Pure, untouristy natural landscapes, endless hiking trails and generous, warm-hearted people made me realize again what really matters in life: exploring, opening up to foreign cultures and making memories that last.
Finally I could get enough distance to what had happened and restored confidence in myself. It was also the time when I first tried hitchhiking. Solo.
Travelling solo while being in a relationship enabled me to re-focus on who I really was and why I ended up moving to Madrid. I came back from Azores as a more grateful and self-aware person.
Amanda – Marocmama
Jules – Don’t Forget to Move
When you’re traveling as a couple it can be hard to find time apart. After 5 years of traveling together, although we’ve had a ton of amazing adventures, both Christine and I enjoy taking some solo time to reflect on our personal development. One of my most memorable solo trips occurred a few years back in Cambodia. Christine took some time off to participate in a yoga retreat and I ventured off on a week long trip down the Mekong River, kayaking through flooded forests and visiting small villages, seeking out rare pink dolphins and chasing waterfalls.
As I lazily drifted down the Mekong it gave me time to reflect on my latest solo travel adventure. While I missed having Christine with me to share these new travel experiences, it was nice to have a bit of ‘me’ time to think about how my travel journey has grown over the years. I got to reinvigorate that sense of personal growth that travel does so well to instill in you, and it also made me excited to reunite with Christine and continue our adventures around the world.
Jerny – The Jerny Travel Blog
Mike S – Live Travel Teach
Traveling solo is so much fun but it certainly can make you miss your partner. The truth is that can be a good thing though. I’ve been on countless trips while my girlfriend stayed at home for work. You see, I’m the lucky one with lots of vacation time and although she loves her job she doesn’t get to travel as much as I do. But I’ve found that these solo trips are actually great for our relationship since it gives us the time and space to be ourselves and do what we want.
My girlfriend is adventurous but can get a bit squeamish around spiders, leeches and other creepy crawlies that I’ve come across in the jungle. So when we travel together I often skip those jungle treks but when I travel solo I get to spend days on end getting down and dirty with all of it. The alone time lets us reflect on how fortunate we are to have each other and makes our reunion upon my return that much sweeter. We always have lots of quality time when I get home; that time might otherwise have been devoted to work or binge watching a tv show but after time apart those take a back seat for one on one time. I guess what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to take a trip without your partner because when you return things will be that much better!
Marie Carmen – Orient Excess
Since I met my husband we’ve been spending most of our time together. It’s almost strange to think of how little we’ve been apart but moving to China has brought up a few solo trips for different reasons. There are the usual “Going home” ones, being from different countries with different languages makes it easier to split up the holiday with each family, we also had a few separate trips because who else was going to keep the bunny? But some of those solo adventures are purely because something interests one of us more than the other.
In July I jumped on a plane going to Lijiang, this was only the beginning of the trip: taking an old van, I ended up being driven for a few hours on a dirt road to a Yi village (a minority living in the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan in China) ready to experience their torch festival. I was the only outsider, I felt shy and it was hard to not stay in a corner by myself. Mainly I couldn’t fall back on my other half like I might do sometimes and had to push myself to integrate. The experience was surreal, I danced around the fire, talked with the elders on the side, I felt like a part of this event. That’s the experience that has now pushed me to take more solo trips, to get more in contact with others instead of forever hiding behind my reassuring English guy.
Rachel – Rachel’s Ruminations
I was past 50 and had been married for 25 years before I took a real solo trip. My sweet husband, when I told him about the travel I wanted to do, just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Do what you need to do.”
I planned two trips: one for a month and the other for two, with time back home in between so I wouldn’t miss our 25th anniversary.
Later, I brought it up again: “Are you sure this is okay with you?” After all, I was leaving him with our teenage son. He admitted that cooking so often bothered him. No problem! First of all, I bought our son a student cookbook and taught him to cook. I supervised closely the first few times, then backed off so he could come to me if he had a question
I also started packing the freezer with quiches and lasagnas, favourites for both of them. The result was that my son cooked twice a week, my husband three times a week (as usual) and the freezer provided the rest. Problem solved!
I love traveling with my husband, but I also loved traveling solo. The freedom of doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, was a delight. And I realised that I enjoy my own company.
That’s not to say I didn’t miss my husband, because I did. It wasn’t an issue, though, until about the one-month mark, when it began to feel like a burden. I’ll still travel solo when I can, but now I know my limit: one month.
Jenn – Who Needs Maps
Kay – Jetfarer
I’ve been in a serious relationship for nearly five years, and in that time I have taken over 35 international and domestic trips on my own. My significant other is in medical school in Houston and does not have a schedule that enables him to travel easily, so I travel solo most of the time.
People often ask me why I choose to travel alone, and my short answer is that I really enjoy it! In particular, I enjoy the freedom to make friends while traveling solo and decide on my own schedule, without having to worry about anyone else’s timeline. Solo travel has taught me independence and self-reliance, which can be somewhat difficult to learn otherwise while in a relationship. I’ve learned so much from my solo travels and am thankful to have embarked on some pretty incredible adventures.
Now that I’ve moved away from Houston for a new job, being in a long distance relationship is much, much easier because I’m accustomed to the solo travel grind. He and I are still very happy together but don’t mind some time apart because we’re busy living our own independent lives.
Anne – Travel the Globe 4 Less
Nicole La Barge – nicolelabarge.com
Adelina – Pack Me To
Since I’ve been with my significant other, I’ve gone on more trips without him than I have with him. We got engaged earlier this year and shortly after that, I was laid off from my job. Instead of heading back to work immediately, I decided to go traveling for a month – mostly alone and without my fiancé. While I had gone alone before, this trip would be longer. I’d be spending 3 weeks on my own in Japan. Despite my worries, I had a wonderful time and learned a lot about myself and Japan.
During my times away, I always check in with him at least once a day to assure him that I’m okay. One day on this trip, I woke up late for a tour and left my hostel without messaging him. When I came back to my bed, there was a note taped to my bed from reception informing me that he was looking for me. We laugh about it now, but it’s good to know he’s still looking out for me no matter where I am in the world.
I miss him a lot when I’m away and I always have a million and one things to share with him when we reunite. My fiancé has been nothing but supportive of my wandering ways. He cautions me to be sensible and to not overdo it on my travels, but otherwise encourages me to go explore, learn new things and have fun.
Pin it for later?