Married Solo Travel: Here’s How it Works
Does, as the old cliche go, absence really make the heart grow fonder? I don’t think that it does. If it did, I’d have stopped traveling solo a long time ago, so filled with fondness-for-my-husband my heart would be.
That is not to say I am not fond of my husband–I am. I do not travel–and I do not travel solo–because I am unhappy in my marriage. I do so because to not would cause me to be unhappy in my life. It is part of who I am. And, thus, it is a part that must be loved by anyone wishing to love me.
But my semi-constantly-gone status does raise more than a few eyebrows to friends, family, and sometimes even perfect strangers. Which is why I reached out across the internet to find out what people really wondered about my solo but not single travel style. Here are the questions I was asked, along with my (often rather wordy) responses.
Is your husband comfortable with this?
Yes. He is. But instead of me telling you, let’s ask him. As I write this, I’m yelling to him in the living room–I’m in my office. Ahem…
Me: Hey husband–are you ok with me traveling solo?
Husband: Am I comfortable like do I worry about your safety?
Me: No. Like are you comfortable with me being gone without you.
Husband: Am I comfortable with the concept of you going places on your own?
Husband: Why wouldn’t I be ok with that? Is that not normal?
Me: Nope. Totally normal. Thanks. That actually really helps!
No. For a number of reasons.
Reason 1: If he wanted someone to always be here, he’d have left me long ago. Long, long ago.
Reason 2: To worry about something implies that for it to happen, it would be tragic. Should he find someone else (or should I find someone else), we would work through that on our own. However…
Reason 3: I do not see a connection between ‘me being gone often’ and ‘him finding someone else’. If he was going to/is ever going to do that, it would happen anyway. It is a weak, weak soul who turns to someone solely out of loneliness. Neither of us are particularly weak.
Are you constantly on the phone with your husband?
No. In fact, I barely communicate with him when I’m gone. He does not text, and I do not like talking on the phone. We’re like Jack Sprat and his wife that way. We will occasionally FaceTime when we both have wifi and free moments, but more often than not, our schedules do not mesh.
I do, however, talk to many of my friends via text, Facebook, and email while I’m on the road. Thus, I am never lonely. Which is nice.
Do men hit on you?
Infrequently, yes. It has not been a problem. I’m semi-old and a bit overweight–not exactly the kind of woman at whom men throw themselves. But yes, it does happen. I’ve gone out with men while traveling, both with new friends and old friends, for drinks and for meals; I will continue to do so. I was actually once hit on while my husband was present–he was seated between me and the guy who was trying to pick me up. It was actually really funny. Not even in retrospect–at the time, it was really, really funny.
Do you feel safe?
Most of the time, yes. And when I don’t, it is because I’m afraid of being accosted, not hurt. It is sometimes difficult to be in the world alone–whether you are a man or a woman. Solo travelers are easier targets for people looking to harass others. It is particularly a problem when I’m traveling because I’m either traveling as a blogger–and thus have a giant, expensive camera around my neck–or traveling for work–and thus am semi-well-dressed. I am also blonde and have large breasts. So there’s that. But I’ve never been scared for my life. Just moderately uncomfortable. And I’d have felt almost the same way had someone been with me.
I know I said ‘ask anything’ and I really did mean it. And I’m so glad someone asked this question because really, I hadn’t realized that some people may think that. But I have to first reply–ha! And–no. No his income does not.
For the past ten years, we have both worked as public school teachers. We each do other work on the side–he’s taught some college courses and I do a bit of freelance writing–but for the most part, we’ve lived on two teachers’ salaries. And they were pretty darn equal.
In fact, we recently left our teaching jobs to go into professional development consulting. We are now paid exactly the same amount of money per day as consultants. Right now, that’s significantly less than two teachers’s salaries (anyone want to take me out for lunch???)
So no, I am not a kept woman. I would not suffer living in a tower.
Do you feel guilty? Or does your husband make you feel guilty?
The short answer–no and no. The long answer–I feel these two questions go hand in hand. Guilt can only exist in a suitable environment–one which fosters growth of guilt. Because he does not make me feel guilt, I feel no guilt. It is the perfect arrangement.
How is your marriage surviving with you being gone so much?
Ah yes. This is the root of all of the above questions, isn’t it? And that’s why everyone always expresses concern about my semi-constant away-ness. Because many people–I’d say most, but I’m not sure–can’t imagine being separated from their partner this often. And I get that. In fact, I used to feel the same way. I remember the first time I left him for more than a couple of days, to spend several weeks on Marthas Vineyard as part of a (pretty awesome) grad program. I cried at the airport. A lot.
I don’t cry anymore. If I did, I’d spend half my life crying. And that’s no way to live.
The truth is–it gets easier. In fact, it gets so easy it is shocking; the last time I left (for a ten day trip) I called goodbye down the basement stairs, got in the car and drove away. This ease is likely the part that causes concern. If it is so easy for me to walk away from him for a few days or a few weeks, what about months? Or years? Or forever?
My answer to that is simple–I haven’t left yet, and neither has he. Which means it must be working for us right now. My current lifestyle makes me happy. His current lifestyle makes him happy. I see no problem here.
A few words on the title of this post: There should be a parenthetical at the end–Married Solo Travel: Here’s How it Works (for me). But that is an excessively long title. Thus, I’m telling you now–all of the above is what works for me. But everyone is different. For the love of all that is good, do what works for you, for your life, and for your relationship. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past almost-decade. And that’s the most anyone can do.
In the above post, I replied to every question posed through my original survey, which was posed through an anonymous Survey Monkey form. If you have an additional question, or if the answers to the above brought up more questions, please do post it in the comments below. I will respond to every on-topic query (yeah, that’s right, I’m calling you out, Dustin–your joke was funny but did not deserve a response!) (Everyone else–don’t ask about that last comment. I assure you, you don’t want to know!)