How do you travel without your significant other, wife/husband or partner?
October 6, 2004 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Travel without your s/o.. Any of you do it? --->

I love to travel, particularly to foreign contries. My gf likes to travel too. But I also like to travel alone sometimes, and she can't understand why I would ever want to travel without her. I explain that it has nothing to do with her; I just really like the adventure and independence of being on my own, and I like not having to worry about someone else.

I do travel with her though; it's about 60/40 in her favor. Our relationship is pretty committed and serious, so the question is, am I being unreasonable? Anyone else out there in a similar situation?
posted by eas98 to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
If it's long periods of time (longer than 2-3 weeks), I think you'll find it will really hurt things. I once went to Australia without my then girlfriend, and it was only 2 weeks and I called and emailed her every 2-3 days, and if anything, for me, the absence made my heart grow fonder, but for her, it was still disruptive.

I personally don't think it's unreasonable what you want -- but it may be difficult to work it out in your situation.
posted by weston at 11:53 AM on October 6, 2004

The wife and I often travel separately. She has family she likes to visit back home whereas my family drives us bats. If she goes alone then we both avoid my folks. Also, I love seedy Greyhound adventures where getting there is 3/4 of the entertainment value. As for the wife, Greyhound is possibly the last way she'd choose to travel, 'preferring to crawl' as she put it once.

I should add, we've never been too close to the societal norm when it comes to doing things together.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:58 AM on October 6, 2004

I don't think travel is the issue so much as it is the apportionment of time. Is she bothered that you're choosing not to see Part-of-the-World-X with her when she would enjoy seeing Part-of-the-World-X, or is it really that you're opting to spend a lot of time without her? How would she react if you were within driving distance but didn't see her for two weeks? I suspect the "going to Prague for two weeks without me" factor is just a small increment on top of that.
posted by blueshammer at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2004

Nope, you are not being unreasonable. You have explained why you like to travel alone once and a while and I hope she can accept that.

I occasionally like to travel alone (I've been in a relationship for over 8 years) and after explaining why I like to do it, it is understood and encouraged (although most times I cut the trip down a bit because I miss being together).
posted by bakiwop at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2004

My wife and I travel separately for business but usually together when it's for pleasure or relaxation. We've determined that for us, traveling together is a lot more fun.

We've learned that trips are among our favorite things to do together. Yet I too like to be away and alone on occasion, and so does she--the solo time can be refreshing. So we find room for that within our vacations: I'll have a morning on my own while she sleeps in, she'll get a few hours to herself when I play golf, etc.

Every relationship is different, and there's no reason you can't find compromises. Plenty of people take trips without their spouses. Establish the reasons and ground rules up front (always share an itinerary, get in touch no less than/more than X times a day, etc.) and you should be fine.
posted by werty at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2004

I hear a lot of my friends' parents do this. Where older couples will travel for fun separately.

Personally I'm conflicted. I love to travel, but hate the hassle of making sure the pets and plants are tended to when we both go away, so when one of us travels, it's really easy since the other can "hold down the fort."

I kind of make business trips into vacations by splurging on food and hotel while away, and while I do love, love, love to see new places, I feel bad when I can't enjoy it with my beloved. Nothing sucks worse than describing an amazing New York summer sunset over the phone). It's kinda like, yeah, I'd love to road trip all the way up to Alaska someday with no schedule of any kind, sleeping in a tent and seeing where the adventure takes me, but I'd like to share that with my best friend and wife (same person!).

I've been to Disneyland by myself before, and that's kinda what travel adventures feel like when you know your spouse is at home, at work, not enjoying life as much as you are.
posted by mathowie at 1:04 PM on October 6, 2004

I travel differently alone than with my bf. I plan less, cut things closer, stay with people that might not be our choice of who to stay with, spend less money. I have more free time so I'll sometimes go someplace alone even if I'd like to go with him. I rarely go away and leave him at home with free time. He sometimes travels without me, often to see his family since he likes to see them a lot more often than I like to see them, and holidays are important to them in a togetherness way that they aren't to me. We each think the other has good reasons so it's never been a problem, though at some level I always miss him no matter who is staying home. We really like to travel together also, so if we have more than one or two trips apart, we'll try pretty hard to make the next one together. I think if you agree on some sort of ground rules like werty says, especially how often to get in touch, it's not an unreasonable thing to want to spend some time alone at home or away from home. Might want to tease apart just what part of your travelling alone doesn't sit well with your partner because it might be a pretty easy fix to make her not mind is so much.
posted by jessamyn at 1:08 PM on October 6, 2004 [1 favorite]

We do things separately a lot and find that no big deal. But if he (or I) wanted to go alone to a place that I (or he) really wanted to go to as well, I think that would be a problem.
posted by sageleaf at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2004

Thank you for the replies so far. To answer some questions:

I think that for her the problem is a mix of generally not wanting to be apart, insecurity, and a genuine interest in the place I may be going (although I doubt that there is a place I would want to go that she wouldn't also want to go to).

But it also comes down to philosophy: she feels that being a couple means doing important things 'together'. (Obviously, this affects more than just travel, but for discussion's sake, I'll just keep it to travel.) Needless to say, I feel differently. I'm glad to see, however, that I'm not the only one.
posted by eas98 at 1:39 PM on October 6, 2004

To answer her "not wanting to be apart, insecurity, and a genuine interest in the place I may be going" issues maybe doing what I do can help.

1) Stay in touch daily - set aside a block of time to call each day that works for both of you, like 8pm - 12pm.

2) Share the places you travel with her. For instance, go for a walk or out to dinner when you get back and tell her all about your travels - the good parts, the bad parts, the frustrating parts, etc. Also, bring stuff back for her. I'm not talking about expensive gifts, but rather momentos of where you have been. When I recently drove to San Francisco and back because I wanted to see the mountains, the desert and the ocean I brought a bit of each of those things back in baggies for her. I also got her a box of Rice-a-Roni from San Francisco.

3) If you liked where you traveled, plan a trip there with her and show her the sites you saw and discover new ones together.

Sometimes the most important thing a couple can do is spend time apart for a bit.
posted by bakiwop at 2:29 PM on October 6, 2004

you talk about "the problem" for her, but what's the problem for you with travelling together? maybe you also need to look at that - you seem to be looking for support rather than trying to either understand what's wrong or considering that you may be partially in the wrong too.

fwiw, we spend a lot of time apart from each other. in some ways it's easy because it avoids conflicts in what can be a rather intense relationship, and lets us each obsess over our own things. but there are drawbacks too - it's a lot more fun travelling (even if it's for work) than it is being stuck at home, especially on a rainy sunday afternoon.

communication helps, as others have said. i've just installed skype on both our laptops so that we can talk for free when we have decent internet connections (for example, when i'm working shifts away from home).

and communication is also important when we're together - discussing why we live the life we do and making sure that both sides of the partnership get a fair deal. if one of us is feeling fed up and lonely, where's the balance? what is the other person going to do - something that might not be that pleasant for them - to make the other happier? in your case, if you want to travel, and your so is unhappy, then there's some responsibility on your part to make things better, even at some cost to you.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2004

I've taken a number of trips without my boyfriend, probably three or four in the past year and a half. Trips to see my family when he's already been to see them recently. Trips to chill with friends, when the dynamic would be different if he were there. Professional trips that he has no interest in.

We also take trips together.

He hasn't taken many trips without me, but we live closer to his friends and family than to mine. And I expect this holiday season he may go visit his dad when I go visit other folks.

Growing up, my parents never did anything without each other. It didn't occur to me that it was OK to pursue different interests and take different vacations until I learned that a good friend's parents did it all the time, and still seemed to love each other all right.

Now I know more people who travel seperately, and my parents have even done it a few times in recent years as the kids have grown up and moved out.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2004

For me, this question brings up some interesting identity issues. When I see a new place with my partner, I'm seeing it through the identity I have when I'm with her: my shared self, if you will, which is me in negotiation with my partner. This is different than the identity I have when I'm on my own, and not thinking about how she is seeing the same things I am.

I'm not talking about night-and-day differences, but more like what jessamyn was talking about: I do things differently, I see things differently, I make different decisions. In short, I'm my solitary self rather than my shared self.

Wanting to have a balance between your solitary and shared selves is natural and healthy. Just make sure you're clear about what you're after, and that you communicate with your partner about it. Some people have a hard time acknowledging and accepting the private aspects of their partner's lives.

[Side note: so many AskMe threads about privacy issues lately!]
posted by squirrel at 10:02 PM on October 6, 2004 [1 favorite]

I took a two month trip to Europe without my wife and I think it helped our relationship immensely.

Not only is there nothing wrong with it, I think it is helpfull to travel alone sometimes. It helps the individuals feel more like individuals and regain a sense of self that sometimes gets lost in a close and intimate relationship.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:12 PM on October 6, 2004

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