Three days/four nights alone?
January 28, 2009 4:16 AM   Subscribe

Do you and your spouse take separate vacations?

Just looking for anecdotes from others who have managed to make this work. My husband and I have discussed this on and off over the years, but so far have never actually done it. My husband loves tropical beach vacations, would love to go on a cruise ship vacation, etc. I would like to rent an RV and drive across the U.S., or go on a short camping or hiking excursions (I would be a newbie at this). In practice, we take a lot of beach vacations and Club Med trips (where we each can do a bit of our own thing at times). While I do enjoy them, I want to expand my horizons more. My husband has no interest in roughing it while on vacation. We have a young son too, so obviously I'm not looking at risky or even strenuous physical activities on vacation trips either.

If you and your spouse have taken turns going on vacation so that you can each pursue your own interests more, I'd love to hear your insights. Thank you!
posted by lgandme0717 to Human Relations (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. My wife takes our daughter on a camping trip each summer, and will go to yoga courses by herself. She will also camp / ski / whatever with her girlfriends. I go away to see bands or follow other interests.

However, we also vacation together, trying to accommodate interests for all of us. This requires compromise. If you've done several beach vacations I think you are in a good position to ask him to participate in something you want to try. If he doesn't want to camp, find a nice lodge / hotel / inn near an area where you can do some hikes suitable for bringing your son along ... and find other family-friendly activities nearby. Perhaps you could also consider leaving your son with family (if possible / available) for a short while to go on a 'grownup' vacation together. You could also find friends willing to try a camping trip with you.
posted by valleys at 4:36 AM on January 28, 2009

My mom and dad have taken separate vacations ever since I can remember. Pops goes and plays volleyball, mom goes and eats at super-Americanized restaurants in foreign countries.

(Then again, they can barely stand to be in the same room, so YMMV.)
posted by sperose at 4:52 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

My experience comports with sperose's implication: when married couples take separate vacations, odds are good that there is No Joy in Mudville. My parents do this occasionally, but it's usually a pretty emphatic statement that something is wrong. Again, YMMV, but I wouldn't interpret that as a particularly good sign.
posted by valkyryn at 4:59 AM on January 28, 2009

As a total gaming nerd, I often take "vacations" off to Cons without my wife. She just wouldn't want to go.
This is true for many of my friends.

Does this count?
posted by jozxyqk at 5:03 AM on January 28, 2009

I've gone on "girls weekends" without my husband, but we generally don't vacation separately. I feel like we have limited amounts of time off and I would rather spend it with him (and vice versa, I assume, although we've never discussed explicitly).
posted by miss tea at 5:05 AM on January 28, 2009

My husband and I don't take separate vacations per se (ie: we're not apart for weeks at a time) but its not unusual for either he or I to spend a long weekend away doing something the other one would be bored with. So trying a four-day weekend might be a way to see how you like this. (The other key is to take a friend along.)
posted by anastasiav at 5:08 AM on January 28, 2009

I go to an annual weekend tech retreat sans spouse, and my spouse goes to something similar but non-tech. We also go on vacations together, but find that there are some things that we can focus on more intently (and get more out of) when we're solo.
posted by zippy at 5:10 AM on January 28, 2009

I would strongly deny valkyryn's concept. My wife and I have only been married six months, but she's planning on taking her own vacation in the spring - the beach, which sounds like my own personal version of hell. Likewise, I've gone on any number of quickie (four day) road trips with buddies - she's not into the whole, drive eighteen hours, take pictures all day, sleep a little, take more pictures, drive home road trips I love.
posted by notsnot at 5:24 AM on January 28, 2009

My girlfriend went away for a week to visit some friends in another city. She got to see a bunch of people she hasn't seen in awhile, and I got plenty of free time to myself. I liked it!
posted by orme at 5:30 AM on January 28, 2009

Yes, my wife and I have several times taken separate vacations.

For us time and money are both limited resources and taking separate trips is the best way to maximize their benefit. We live in the Caribbean and my wife has maintained a large network of friends and family in the States and misses the shopping opportunities that are not available here; I have far fewer people on the mainland that I want to see and I couldn't care less if I never saw a Macy's again. Therefore, she goes I stay - honestly it doesn't make any sense to me to spend $1000+ for a trip that I am not going to enjoy and I know she can enjoy her trip more when she is not wondering if I am having a good time. The money that we save by me not going (and taking unpaid vacation - she gets 2 weeks a year, I get 1) is then spent on a trip together that we will both enjoy. Even if time and money were not as tight I think that we would probably come to the same conclusion.

This does not in any way indicate is anything "wrong" or that "there is No Joy in Mudville." We love spending time with each other and love sharing new and old experiences together but we are married not joined at the hip. Separate vacations (for us) allow her room to do what she wants to do (see friends, shop) and allows me to do things I want to do (stay home, watch gory horror movies, not do the dishes for a week.) I fail to see how this is a problem.
posted by Bango Skank at 5:44 AM on January 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

Agreed with orme, I definitely don't think this is a sign that things are bad. My fiancee (getting married in March) is going on a 4-5 day trip to Montreal soon, and we usually do a couple weekends or long weekends apart every year. It's actually nice, because you actually get a chance to miss the other person. Though I must admit we've never done a full on whole week vacation apart, cause we both enjoy a lot of the same things when we travel.
posted by Grither at 5:47 AM on January 28, 2009

My wife took our two oldest kids (7 and 5) for a two-week, drive-up-and-down-the-California-coast trip. Does that count?
posted by DWRoelands at 5:49 AM on January 28, 2009

We've done this for over 20 years, and there is PLENTY of joy in our Mudville. Usually they are shorter, mini vacations of less than a week, where we pursue personal interests. We do take longer trips together, so we have the best of both worlds.
posted by lobstah at 5:52 AM on January 28, 2009

Yep, frequently. My wife loves to go down and visit with her parents for a week or so. Me, I'm a little bit 'Meh' on that one, so I go to Baseball Spring Training in Florida for a few days. That way we get to do what makes us happy and each has a few days at home by themselves while the other is away. Absolutely no problem with it as far as either of us are concerned.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 6:03 AM on January 28, 2009

If I couldn't have holidays by myself from time to time I would go insane. I think its both normal, and healthy to go exploring alone - you then have something to bring back to the relationship - and, maybe more importantly, time to miss your SO.

I've gone on random sailing, hiking and climbing jaunts alone and loved it. Just strike a balance, take a short, specialised trip alone, then something more generalised together.

If you're not sure what you fancy doing, you could try a structured activity holiday with other women. Here's an example and further googling brought up lots more.

Also, whilst its true that holidaying alone can indicate and/or exacerbate problems that already exist in a relationship (jealously, insecurity, incompatibility etc) etc, if you're happy together now, wanting to try something new is NOT a clarion call for the divorce lawyer. You're already talking so you recognise that you have different needs for vacation - a good sign. Take this as an opportunity to grow together. If you can support each other within your independant endeavours, and still relish your time together you've probably got a good thing going on. Go for it, and enjoy!
posted by freya_lamb at 6:08 AM on January 28, 2009

We don't take formal "away for a week" type of vacations separately, however weekend trips to visit friends or pursue interests that aren't shared are normal I think.
posted by COD at 6:30 AM on January 28, 2009

My wife and I vacationed seperately last year, and not that we didn't have fun, but one cool thing we figured out was that we enjoyed vacationing more with each other than we did with our friends.

BTW: I would not rule out vacationing seperately in the future, but I would choose my company to come along with me wisely.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:40 AM on January 28, 2009

I love camping and being outside. My fiance (whom I love dearly, more than anything) loves casinos and going shopping. We can usually compromise on weeklong vacations - but I usually take two long weekends a year and go camping with my friends.

Life is too short - do what you love, and do it with people who love it as well. I don't know why some people thing it is required that husband and wife (BF and GF, BF and BF, whatever) do everything together all the time. You aren't the same person and everyone deserves a little independence. If your interest don't run parallel all the time, that's ok - it doesn't mean your destined for failure.
posted by Brettus at 6:49 AM on January 28, 2009

Mr. gudrun and I do exactly as the lobstah family does - shorter mini vacations or trips separately, and then longer trips together. Both you and your husband can do this, and also can do some compromise trips together. Try going to someplace for a few days that allows both of you to do things of interest to you.

This advice from valleys is spot on: If he doesn't want to camp, find a nice lodge / hotel / inn near an area where you can do some hikes suitable for bringing your son along ... and find other family-friendly activities nearby. Perhaps you could also consider leaving your son with family (if possible / available) for a short while to go on a 'grownup' vacation together. You could also find friends willing to try a camping trip with you.

Some thoughts, off the top of my head, for family vacations - try some of the National Parks like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite or go see the redwoods, and at the same time hit the California coast and go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Try a long weekend at Mohonk Mountain House, which is very family friendly and has easy access to 85 miles of hiking trails, from super easy to more serious scrambling, with good maps, guided or unguided. There are options besides the beach or Club Med.
posted by gudrun at 7:00 AM on January 28, 2009

when married couples take separate vacations, odds are good that there is No Joy in Mudville.

I got married, yes, but I didn't undertake a Vulcan mind meld. My husband and I have, aside from our shared interests, different interests, seeing as how we are not the same person.

I refuse to go anywhere without tiled bathrooms and cannot stand camping. He wallows in 2 feet of mud every summer at Glastonbury. Similarly, I take "fly to Florence, find a cafe, sit down and read a book for four days" holidays that would bore him to tears.

I firmly believe that to bring a whole and happy person to your partnership, it is important and appropriate to nurture your individuality. Life is short and the world is big.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:02 AM on January 28, 2009 [7 favorites]

I seem to have the same thing as a lot of people here - I will go on weekend-y type trips (visiting my sister's family, JournalCon, planning on RollerCon in July) while Mr. Lucinda stays home and does what he likes (woodworking).

It works well for all involved.

(I will add that we haven't really taken many "official" vacations, but when we have, we've gone together.)
posted by Lucinda at 7:05 AM on January 28, 2009

My SO and I both go on road trips and cottage weekends with other groups of friends. For us it's pretty natural, as we both were already in the habit of vacationing with those other friends before we got together, so the habit just persisted without us making a big deal of it. We stay in contact a fair bit while apart- maybe a half-hour long phonecall every two or three days, and we send the odd email or postcard, as well. We find that the time apart is beneficial- we both come home feeling refreshed and with lots of interesting stories to tell.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2009

My mom goes on private spa trips by herself and has encouraged my dad to go places she knows he loves and can manage on his own (like Prague). He has yet to take a vacation on his own, though.

When we do (and did) take trips as a family, we often split up and do our own thing. Not quite the same, but route of compromise. Not sure if such a situation works in your case, though.
posted by piratebowling at 7:38 AM on January 28, 2009

My best vacations are when my husband takes our daughter to Michigan for a week every summer. They have beach fun, I stay home, eat bad Chinese food and watch chick flicks and generally have peace and quiet. Joy all around, including Mudville.

I've also gone on trips with friends without my husband, and he has gone with friends without me. We'd probably be divorced if we didn't do our own things once in a while.

In case you are looking for suggestions on solo vacations, I've always wanted to do a fully-supported bike tour from here: WomanTours.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:42 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, I will agree with some here - I do nerd weekends away without my partner, she might do a theatre weekend away without me (and with a friend of hers I'm not too fond of, etc). Longer than three days, though, and we start missing each other fiercely no matter how much fun we're having. I think if you find you don't ever want to go on vacation together, that might be a bad sign, but the occasional trip can be a great opportunity to do the things you love but that your partner just isn't into.
posted by marginaliana at 7:46 AM on January 28, 2009

I think it would be weird to do a totally solo 'holiday' holday after being in a long term couple. somethign where there isn't another cause behind it.

ie We will occasionally do our own thing - but only where one of us is going off for a girly / boyish weekend with old freinds, or say going to NYC for a week to see an old friend or goign to do somethign hobby related.

I think it would be weird if one of us said: "I'm going to Rome for a week by myself (no you can't come)".

but not weird if one of us said: "hey Im' going to Glastonbury / ATP / Sonar / Cannes Film Festival / Fashion Week / Cycling across France... you don't really want to come do you?"
posted by mary8nne at 8:03 AM on January 28, 2009

Another one for separate vacations and together vacations. My husband hiked the grand canyon with friends last year, and will go skiing this year. I'll head to visit friends or family. Typically these are long weekend, or 5 days at most. And yes, we miss each other terribly, and both tend to think whatever we had been doing would have been more fun if the other person was there. I'm sure my husband will tell me he wishes I were skiing with him. But me, I don't wish I was skiing with him.

We also vacation together. I don't think this means there is anything wrong with our relationship.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:17 AM on January 28, 2009

I also disagree with Valkyryn. When my twin sister got married to her husband, it was an unwritten rule that the marriage came with "twin time" - that means at least for a few days every year, my sister and I go off and do our own thing. (He thought it was a great idea, which is when I knew she married the right man.) Meanwhile, Dave gets to sit at home and eat chocolate and watch really loud movies with car crashes and eat pizza daily. Win Win situation.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:37 AM on January 28, 2009

My parents have been married for 25 or so years, and to my knowledge have never taken separate vacations. They certainly didn't while I was growing up (when my dad got asked to go to New Orleans after Katrina, my mom confessed anxiously that it was the first time they'd been away from each other for more than a day or two since before I was born!)

On the other hand, two of my best friends recently married and their work and interests draw them in very different directions (one goes to Kenya and Mexico, the other goes to Eastern Europe and, once, Siberia!). They're used to spending time apart, but it's not a sign of something terribly wrong in their relationship. Besides, I bet they really enjoy their reunions!

I don't think separate vacations are a sign of something wrong. Just be sure to also go on vacation with each other sometimes, too.
posted by shaun uh at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2009

My husband (of 5 years) and I take separate "vacations" (if you define a vacation as taking vacation leave from work). Typically, I go to visit friends and family back east while he prefers extended road trips in the isolated hinterlands of the west. We try to go somewhere together every year, even if it's just a short jaunt to Mono Lake or Puerto Penasco.

There's no way that I would drag him along on my vacations -- it's cheaper, for one, since I usually crash on someone's couch rather than booking a motel room; for two, he married me, not my family... they're a handful! And while I enjoy the road trips we take together, I'm absolutely certain that he needs his time alone. We miss each other while we're apart, but I'm certain that the time apart is necessary for us to each enjoy our separate interests.
posted by parilous at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2009

My parents frequently take separate vacations and have been happily married for over 30 years. They just like different things, so they go to separate destinations. When my brother and I were younger, we often took separate family vacations: I went on road trips with my mom, my brother went snowboarding with my dad. It was fantastic. When we all got home, there was always a lot to talk about and pictures to compare. As long as you still want to spend time together once you get home, there is nothing wrong with vacationing separately to accommodate divergent travel interests.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2009

I just reread some of the comments above mine. I think the question should be: are you trying to get away from each other (i.e., do you need a vacation from your spouse?), or trying to get to some place, activity, or event of interest to each of you? The latter is harmless: you do not need to spend every spare moment with your spouse; it is ok to pursue interests your spouse does not share, even if that requires you to spend a few days apart.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2009

Just adding to the chorus that my wife and I will often take shorter trips apart (her to visit family or friends and me to go skiing or hiking with friends which she doesn't super enjoy). Adding to the mix is that she is a teacher and thus for 3/4 of the year she can't really take extended trips so it makes sense if I want to join others for a trip I have to do it alone.

As another data point, my parents never took trips apart but that was probably more due them not being able to do so. Now that my parents are retired they have on occasion taken separate trips with their siblings including my father's road trip to Florida with his brothers so that they could attend a shareholder meeting of a regional grocery store chain. I know there is an idea for a quirky Sundance comedy in there somewhere.
posted by mmascolino at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2009

There's nothing WRONG with taking separate vacations, as long as it's because you want to experience vastly different things. On the other hand, if you just don't want to be around each other while on vacation, that's probably a problem. But just because you're married doesn't mean you share all the same interests - one person might be horribly bored on the other's dream vacation.

I go on a five-day kayak trip every few years. No showers, no outhouses even, and you setup camp wherever you find space on an island. Everything you need for five days has to be packed into your kayak. I can't imagine my wife enjoying something like this, but I have a great time. If we always took vacations together, I'd either be missing a great experience, or she'd be miserable.

Taking a vacation together that you both enjoy is a great way to strengthen your relationship - but splitting up occasionally to explore your different interests is also a good idea.
posted by chundo at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2009

My parents have had a long and happy marriage, and they take separate vacations frequently. These are usually relatively short trips with friends. They usually do bigger trips together, but I don't think there's any reason that a longer or farther-reacher separate vacation would be problematic.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:24 AM on January 28, 2009

Sure. Sometimes we travel as a family, sometimes one of us strikes out alone for a few days. Mr. Corpse goes on solo hiking trips; I'm planning on going to BlogHer this year. Neither of us feels deprived of what we want to do, and we don't have to deal with childcare since one of us is home with the kids.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2009

I don't think the occasional trip apart is a big deal, but you do have other options. I know you didn't ask for any, and I am not sure this would interest you, but beaches in foreign locations can offer both the beach and cultural/hiking/discovery/exploration options. I love the beach but abhor the big resort areas. These are just a few of the places I have gone that I think would fit what you might be looking for in a joint vacation.

Tulum, Mexico has beautiful beaches (without the awful resort feel of Cancun or Cozumel) and you can explore the Mayan ruins and the nearby Sian Kaan (a huge biosphere reserve) and absorb a bit of the Mexican culture. Definitely not Club Med, but definitely the beach. It is about an hour drive south from Cancun airport.

Sayulita or San Francisco (aka San Pancho), Mexico -- both and hour or so drive north of Puerto Vallarta. They are small fishing villages on the beach that have nearby mountains for hiking and a lot of Mexican culture to absorb. I don't think any of these places in Mexico are unsafe for kids. I have driven extensively far off the beaten path in Mexico and have never had a problem (and my Spanish is limited).

I have heard that Belize (english-speaking) and Costa Rica might also have good options, but have never been.

For less foreign culture, there is St. John, USVI. It obviously has beaches, but it is also fairly undeveloped since most of it is a national park. It was one of the prettiest places I had ever been (before I went to the next location) with tons of hiking options. I think there are only 2 resort on the island, which are sort of touristy--but there are other smaller lodging options.

Kauai, Hawaii...beautiful beaches, great hiking, the Waimea Canyon (stunning), snorkling with turtles, the Napoli coast (by helicopter or day cruise). This is not very touristy if you stay away from the few big resorts. I have never seen (before or since) more spectacular natural beauty.
I rented a small cabin on the north beach, had a few beach fires (fun) and took a surfing lesson (great fun) as well as the other things mentioned above.

I offer these because you seem a bit more adventurous in your travel than your beach bum hubby and they offer the best of both worlds. But if you do want to vacation separately and you don't want to see a grain of sand, the interior of Mexico has some fantastic options for the solo female traveler. Memail me if you want information.
posted by murrey at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2009

Meg_Murry, in the case of the Scout household, it's about the destination and enjoyment once we're there. If we both want to go to Amsterdam, we both go. If I want to go to walk around some field with standing stones in it, taking pictures of petroglyphs... or in museums & bookstores... or at a gaming convention... or at a day spa... I will enjoy them more without feeling guilty for boring my husband. He has interests that bore the hell out of me. Separate holidays means we get to do things we like, come home to eachother, and share our enthusiasm and joy.
If anything, I've noticed that I'm less confident or interested in taking a separate holiday from Mr. G when we're at sharp angles to eachother. YMMV
posted by Grrlscout at 11:11 AM on January 28, 2009

We have, but I confess, two days in, I miss him more than I thought I would, just as someone to turn around to and say, "can you believe this, isn't this crazy?" about whatever I'm experiencing. And I miss the little things he does for me, making my first coffee in the morning, schlepping my stuff around, driving, that sort of thing. So I go home appreciating him a lot more. Apart from that, yeah, no reason why not. 18 years married.
posted by b33j at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2009

I try to limit it but I get much less vacation time than the GF. She goes on trips to visit her family overseas but otherwise when I get a chance I do go on vacations with her. Sometimes i take a weekend away to visit friends. I couldn't imagine going on separate vacations all of the time. You would get to the point where you would have no experiences in common. That would suck.
posted by JJ86 at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2009

sometimes when I want to visit old highschool/college friends I go without my husband. It's nice to catch up with them and my husband has no interest in hearing old highschool/college tales... He's completely happy to have me go without him and probably appreciates the alone time.
posted by bananafish at 1:28 PM on January 28, 2009

I go on trips without my (long-term, live-in) partner once or twice a year. Usually somewhere in the vicinity of a long weekend to a full week, generally to visit friends. There are a couple places we have been together that he hated and I loved, that I intend to someday revisit without him. He keeps saying he'd like to go rent a cabin in the woods for a week, which I would hate but I think would be great fun for him, so I keep encouraging him to do it. I hope he will, at some point, and will not be at all jealous or sad about being left home. I think it would be great if he wanted to do more individual traveling. I'd miss him terribly if he were gone for weeks on end, but for a few days, I'm happy to have the alone time and for him to go have fun and come back with good stories for me.

We don't have any kids to juggle, which I'm sure makes a difference. It's fun having our house all to myself for a couple of days if he goes on business trips. Less fun if I were having to be a solo caregiver during that time.
posted by Stacey at 1:47 PM on January 28, 2009

Yes, because we both have things we want to do that the other doesn't want to waste the vacation time or the money on. If we didn't just go without the other, we would be miserable. We always try to see if there's something in it for the other person to make it worthwhile, but so far there hasn't been.

We do however take a lot of trips together, so a couple trips where he's visiting friends or I'm visiting friends or going off on a photography trip (where another non-photographer would just be all kinds of annoying) are not going to ruin the relationship. We always come back missing the other person like crazy.
posted by micawber at 7:45 PM on January 28, 2009

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