Your idea of heaven is standing on a mountain pass, breathing in the clear air. His idea of heaven is reclining in a deck chair on a cruise ship. What to do? This might be a reason to travel solo — without your husband or spouse.
There are lots of reasons that I travel without my husband. Let’s face it: People are different. You may have a strong and deep bond with your husband or spouse, but you may not be on the same page concerning what makes your respective hearts soar while traveling. One of the things about becoming a functioning team is the realization that there is no right way to travel. Couples, like singles, must figure out their schedules, bank accounts and family responsibilities … but they should also not forget their dreams. And, because couples are composed of individuals with separate identities, sometimes those dreams differ. Don’t let a silly thing like marriage get in the way of your passion to learn about the world!
There are many reasons to travel solo and leave your spouse at home. Here are a few of the reasons I travel without my husband:
1. Legs buried in sand vs. legs buried in snow
You and your mate may share common interests, but you likely have differing passions, too. You may be crazy about your significant other but not crazy enough to bike for 40 miles a day. Maybe you enjoy quilting and camaraderie and he prefers fly-fishing trips in the Catskills. Don’t be afraid to pursue your own passions apart.
2. Please let the dogs out!
Dogs and cats do not understand that travel is pure oxygen to those with wanderlust. They still expect to be fed and walked. (Other family members may expect a lot more). Traveling may mean that you need to take turns to keep your lives on track. Road Scholar Kay Greenly-Smith from Bendertown, Pa., said that sometimes she travels without her husband so he can stay home to babysit the dogs. As she says, “He seems quite happy for me to go and enjoy myself.” That’s a good boy!
So leave your husband at home during your women-only travel, and take a shift with the pets or grandkids while he joins a food and wine tour solo. Whatever your family circumstances, taking turns is a smart way to balance your responsibilities.
3. Couples cost double
I have always worked to save money for travel; it’s in my DNA. For my husband, that hasn’t been a priority. And, like many couples, raising our daughter and paying our mortgage were on the top of the finance list for years. Many retirees are on fixed incomes and must balance travel costs with bank accounts, so solo travel makes good financial sense. And finding solo trips at a great value is even better.
4. Meeting inspirational (and gutsy) travelers
I first traveled without my spouse last spring because I always wanted to visit Mount Rushmore. I enjoy meeting new people and have traveled solo before, but I sometimes have to push myself to connect with other travelers. So I enrolled in a program with Road Scholar. I found I had no problem connecting with strangers (and soon-to-be friends) on a journey with Road Scholar! On this trip, I was rewarded with a lovely soulmate pal on the opposite side of the country.
As I get older, I often find a bond with other women over 50. (Is it just me or are older women travelers often gutsy, independent, funny and smart?) Traveling by oneself in a group does often require one to reach out to other solo travelers, and that’s a good thing. Solo travel and group travel aren’t necessarily contradictory. As Road Scholar Ellie Knesper of Anne Arbor, Mich., says, “When I travel by myself, I make more of an effort to get to know the participants on the trip, and I think it is beneficial for me to be required to be independent and to find my own solutions to problems.”
5. Traveling with family and friends to create memories
Although I love traveling with my mate, I also love to travel with my daughter (especially since her travel philosophy is: “Mom, I’m fine with you making all plans and decisions.”) Traveling with grandkids, your children or an old friend can be pure joy — a chance to catch up and share the wonders of exploring someplace new with those you love.
Bobbie O’Brien, of Alexandria, Va., loves to travel with an old friend. Over the past years she wrote that she left her husband at home to take annual trips with her lifelong pal, hiking in Shenandoah National Park and on the Appalachian Trail near the Delaware Water Gap.
And Tally Sattherthwaite, of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote, “At this moment I am on a Road Scholar Harry Potter trip to England with my daughter and granddaughter. My husband and I love spending time together on Road Scholar programs, but we are both strong individuals and our time apart energizes us for our time together.”
6. Learning about yourself
There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of having accomplished something on one’s own in the world, and it is exciting to discover new hobbies, talents and strengths. Bobbie O’Brien wrote that her husband took a trip by himself that changed his life. “He learned how to turn wood and is now an award-winning wood turner (a form of woodworking that uses a lathe) who mentors newbies.” Solo travel may result in learning to do something that was previously only a dream.
7. Bringing back stories to share
Ellie Knesper wrote that she and her husband sometimes take turns traveling: “David and I have been married nearly 50 years, and we have actually known each other since 7th grade,” she said. “We are both very comfortable doing things independently when we want to explore different things or when we just can’t find a way to do something together.”
A partner who knows that you will bring back some good stories to share from your solo travels is reason for gratitude. There are even stay-at-home mates who may love sharing a trip without actually having to go on one.
8. Travel makes the heart grow fonder
Missing a spouse is a great reason to travel independently. When I travel solo without my husband, I often think about him and about our life together. I keep a daily tally of things that I think will interest or amuse him … and there’s always Facetime and Skype. And, in the end, I enjoy being missed.
Women and men can choose to travel with their mates, with their children, with friends or any combination of these — and they can also choose to travel solo. Each way leads down a new path, with new discoveries and experiences. I’m a mother and a wife, but I — and we all — have our own dreams of where we want to go and what we want to do and learn about. It’s what makes us human, and, as Tally says about traveling without her spouse, “Our time apart energizes us for our time together.”
About the Author
Barbara Winard has earned degrees in English literature, journalism, and, later in life, gerontology. Although for the past 25 years she was a senior editor and writer of online encyclopedia articles for children. She began her solo travels in college, and after returning from a long trip to Asia, wandered off the street and was hired by the Asia Society in New York City to produce films and print materials for adults and children about Asian culture. She was also a producer and writer for New York City’s public television station, WNET/13. She lives in Jersey City.