I get the question allllllll the time: “You went without your boyfriend?”
It’s often asked in a tone that suggests people think it’s strange, or that they might think something is wrong with my relationship with Jon when I travel without him.
But nope, Jon and I are great, and in a way I wasn’t expecting, traveling without him has kind of strengthened our relationship. Let me tell you about how and why, and why not having anyone to travel with should absolutely, definitely never ever ever keep you from traveling.
I have had wanderlust for the longest time. But also for the longest time, I let excuses keep me from my travel dreams. I didn’t have much paid time off from work, I always found “more important” things that deserved my time, and I wanted to have more money in my bank account before spending on travel.
When I quit my 9-5 job and became self-employed, I began to fully grasp the value of time and money. I decided that if I worked really hard, I would be able to give myself plenty of time off to travel. And if I spent my money wisely, I could invest fully and responsibly in travel as well. Money can be recuperated; time cannot, I realized.
And yet, after I came to really understand all of that, one excuse lingered:
My best friend, my partner, my boo can’t travel with me.
For starters, he can’t take off more than 10 days at a time from being the boss at work. Also, if I’m being honest here, he doesn’t have the desire to go to some of the places I so badly want to go to. Bali, Mexico, Costa Rica? He’ll go there with me for sure! But Thailand, India and Morocco? Meh, he’s not all about it.
At first, I was all like, “What. The. Fuck?”
Really. I worried. I think he did, too.
Can a full-on, hardcore, wannabe world traveler be with a semi, not-so-much world traveler?
Some people will tell you no. They’ll say you’re not right for each other. They’ll say this is a deal-breaker. But me, you guys, I say yes. It takes a lot of support, understanding, trust and love. If you think you have all of that in your relationship (which, really, those are some really important ingredients to having a great relationship anyway), then I’m here to push you to take on your travel dreams even if your other half doesn’t want to or can’t go with. Here are some top tips for ya:
Tell him/her how you feel about traveling.
At first, I was just asking Jon at every random chance I got, “Would you go here? OK, what about here?” Every time he’d say “no,” I got upset. I then realized, oh hey, I’m an adult and I should probably talk this out with him. I told Jon how I felt about traveling and that it is one of my ultimate dreams. I told him that if I didn’t travel to places because he didn’t want to go there, I’d end up resenting him. He understood 100% and told me that as my partner, he would never forgive himself if he stopped me from following my dreams. Have I mentioned how much I love this beautiful man of mine?
Don’t let the words “solo traveling” scare you.
Thousands of people do it every day. And if exploring the world by your lonesome doesn’t appeal to you, go with a travel group. Travel groups are often made up of solo travelers coming together to go adventure. A great one I can recommend for travelers 18-35 is Contiki. You can read more about my Contiki experience here.
If possible, plan a trip when your boo-boo is already planning on being busy.
It sucks knowing your partner is having the time of their life while you’re on the couch watching Jaws for the eighth time. (He does that.) That’s just the truth. So if possible, plan your trip to coincide with his/her events that you don’t need to make it to. Like a bachelor trip or a busy work week. It’ll make it less painful for them that you’re gone.
I know you don’t need his/her permission to go anywhere, but still, it’s considerate of you to ask. When I was planning my solo trips for next year, I asked Jon if he was OK with them. I always want his feedback, and I want him to feel part of the planning process, too. He has always said, “Yes, absolutley. Book it.” But if he ever said, “No, I’ll worry if you go there alone,” I would truly take it into consideration.
Keep in touch.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay connected while you’re exploring the world, but find the time and opportunity to keep in touch with your partner while you’re away. It makes a big difference. Doing so will let them know you’re safe and thinking about them, plus knowing what you’re up makes them feel part of it in a way. And when you come back, make sure to share your experiences with them – cook them the meals you indulged in while away and show them your photos. Of course, don’t you dare come back without souvenirs.
Don’t go somewhere they want to go without them.
So maybe your significant other does want to travel somewhere but can’t at the moment. Leave that place out of your solo traveling plans and go whenever he or she can go! That gives them a traveling journey to look forward to, and you’re not living their dream without them. If you did, that would be a total dick move.
Support their dreams, too.
I know it’s easy to get all caught up in traveling that you forget to ask: hey, what do YOU dream of doing? Maybe your love wants to go rock-climbing somewhere cool. Maybe he or she wants to buy a big sailboat to go sailing the seas with. Maybe they want to flip a house. Whatever their dreams are, support them and encourage them because you want the same for your dreams. Unless, you know, they have some sort of weird illegal fetish dream. Then, maybe don’t support that.
Plan trips you both can go on between your solo trips.
Surely there are places your partner wants to go to. It can be across the country or across the state (or even a staycation), but those smaller trips will help you explore together and they’re important, too. I just came back from a solo trip to Thailand, and I’m about to go on an RV trip along the California coast with Jon. They are both big deals to me and satisfy both of our travel bugs.
When you come back, notice the things about them you missed. Tell them.
You know what happens when I come back from trips? I notice how awesome Jon’s smile is. And I realize what an awesome cuddler he is. And I no longer take for granted our nights of just sitting on the couch together watching Modern Family. I know, barf. Being away from the person you love stinks sometimes, but it can also strengthen your love for them. Make sure to let them know what you missed. They like to be reminded, and they deserve it after going a while without you!
Happy traveling, you guys. Xoxo, Zai.