Tips for Traveling Without Your Spouse

Discussions on how couples feel about travel should be required premarital counseling!

Some folks love to travel and feel it is educational, fulfilling and worth the time and money. Other folks think it is a useless expense that interferes with routine and puts a person at risk. If these two types of folks marry or build long term relationships, they may be in for disagreements, anger and resentment.

When a you marry, you carry untold assumptions that your new partner will behave in a manner similar to the way you were raised. If you were raised in a family that considered travel pleasurable and important, and your family traveled each and every year, then you naturally assume that your new partner will enjoy travel and want to do it. Wrong! Not necessarily so!

So, if you are in a relationship and your partner doesn’t want to travel, are you doomed to stay-at-homeness? Not necessarily. Here are some tips to consider (based on personal experience only) for traveling without your spouse.

Discuss the situation with spouse.

Discuss travel with your spouse – without trying to convince them that they should love to travel.  Sit down with your partner, explain how you were raised, why you feel travel is important to you and how important it is to you. Tell them you understand that he/she was raised differently and get him or her to talk about travel in the context of how they were raised.

Explore together what the impact of travel might be on your (couple/family) situation. Is your spouse uneasy about finances, afraid of leaving the home unattended, or just uninterested in going?

Try hard to reach an agreement on how you want to proceed. There is no reason a partner who wants to travel shouldn’t get to go. Likewise, there is no reason a partner who doesn’t want to travel should have to do so.

Don’t do what I did. I planned family vacation(s) and just assumed my spouse would go. He did, but he was miserable for most of the trips. It showed and immensely decreased my and the kid’ enjoyment of the travel experience.

Manage friend and family interpretations about traveling without your spouse.

If you agree to independent travel, and one of you takes off without the other – someone is sure to think (and gossip) about the ‘fact’ that you two are breaking up. Manage this with the people to whom you are close by talking about it with them. Let them know you have an enlightened relationship and that you discussed and agreed to the situation.

Be fair financially.
Travel costs money, your spouse should get an opportunity to do something (something you don’t also get) of equal value.

Finding non-spouse travel companions.
Travel by yourself can be fun, but I generally enjoy it more when I am with someone. So, if your spouse won’t be going with you – who are others that might?

If you are lucky enough to have grandchildren – consider asking the parents if you can spend travel time with one of your grandchildren. My Mom traveled alone with her oldest grandson. There are actually organized Grandparent-Grandchild trips with organizations such as Elder Hostel. It can be a great way to get to know each other better, it can offer summer child care expense relief to the parents and widen your grandchild’s horizons as well.

There is nothing wrong with a girls (or boys) trip. If you have one or more friends with similar travel interest – plan a trip together. My daughter-in-law has done several girls trips to Branson. My cousin often travels with female friends.  Non-spouse family members also qualify – brothers, sisters, parents, aunts and etc.

Organized groups (church, bank, work, etc)
If you belong to a church group, sometimes the group will organize trips in which you can be included. My aunt used to sign up for trips sponsored by her bank (of all things). Of course, relationships developed at work could also result in plans for a trip.

If you can’t find anyone with whom to travel, consider signing up for an escorted tour. You will be with the same tour guide and group of people for the entire trip. You might develop some lasting friendships with some of the trip goers and decide to travel together again in the future. My retired aunt took multiple overseas trips as a single in an escorted tour group. She even did the Grand European tour – 3 weeks abroad – hitting all the traditional European cities and sights.

Traveling alone.
If you decide to go it alone, that is certainly an option. Embrace selfishness and do exactly what you want to do – without having to consider anyone else’s wishes. There is no need to feel awkward, lonely or sorry for yourself because you are traveling alone! When I visited some relatives last year I spent part of my time in their state taking a little mini-trip up to the mountains – just me. It was fun!

You can take any kind of trip – escorted or not. Go by car, train, plane or ship. You might even want to check out volunteer travel opportunities. You might even find some that help with the cost of the trip. Wisebread blogged about a few of these way back in 2008.

Safety and Security.
Whether you travel with someone or alone, you should care for your safety and security.

Be aware of your surroundings. Plan your trip so that you stay in safe areas. Minimize your after dark excursions in unknown territory. Don’t get so engrossed in the scenery that you forget to watch for suspicious activity from the most dangerous animal around (humans). Make sure your vehicle is in top notch condition and you have adequate emergency supplies along in case you do get stranded. Keep extra cash and ids in a safe place – separate from your purse or wallet.

Make sure you have written health information available in case you are involved in a medical emergency – allergies, medicines, blood types, known problems, doctor’s phone number and name and etc.

Also carry emergency contact information (names/phone numbers/email ids) in your vehicle and on your person.

Plan to keep in regular contact – schedule routine check in points with your partner or someone close – so that someone knows where you are and that you are OK (and also for you to share the amazing things you are seeing and doing!).

What are your thoughts on traveling without your spouse? Do you do it? Would you?

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