Separate vacations can be good for a relationship. After all,
- less is more
- absence makes the heart grow fonder
- travel as one and double your appeal
Okay, I made that last one up. But it still has merit.
The people, stuff, and activities that we really like can have less appeal over time if we have easy and frequent access to them. As Dan Ariely, one of the leading behavioral economists studying our irrational lives suggests, “to really enjoy what we like we need to take a break from it.”
Apply this thinking to relationships: people and things increase in appeal if they are not always available. That can include your spouse or partner.
Separate vacations, without travel guilt, is one solution. Taking breaks from the person you love by taking separate vacations solo sends you both off to expand yourselves. Whether you spend the time in an archive and they spend it fishing, or you spend it hiking and they go off on an architectural tour, both of you return as more interesting people with new stories to tell, new perspectives to share, and new learning.
Having traveled solo, you each see the world with fresh eyes and see each other that way as well. Solo travel has the potential to reignite a relationship by reigniting you.
However, there can be issues associated with separate vacations. Here are a few and how to address them.
How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Travel Solo
Many couples who plan separate vacations come to the idea simply because they have different interests. Others struggle with whether separate vacations are a good idea for them. Perhaps one wants to travel solo but it's never been discussed. How do you tell your partner you want to travel solo? Here are a few tips.
- Tell them when your relationship is on solid ground. Don’t suggest solo travel if your relationship is stumbling. In such a case, your partner will likely feel threatened and discussion could become heated. While solo travel can enrich a relationship, if you set out without your partner's support, it may do the opposite. Plus, there are better ways of caring for a relationship in trouble than traveling solo.
- Don't spring the idea on an unsuspecting partner. Muse aloud about taking time on your own well in advance of having the talk. Start with the notion of taking a few hours or a day to yourself. Then build to the discussion that someday you'll want to travel on your own.
- Make it a joint decision. Let the plan for your solo vacation or separate vacations grow naturally based on caring for both your needs and interests.
- Explain why you want to go solo. You may want to travel solo to have the time to write or draw or explore things that do not interest your partner. Or it may simply be that you enjoy exploring local cultures and it is easier to do so alone. Whatever your reasons, share them openly and honestly. With little hidden, you'll leave behind a more confident partner.
- Share what you hope to bring back to your relationship. Travel solo to enrich your life personally and with the intent of returning and enriching your relationship as well. Explain that both are important to you.
How to Plan Travel Without Your Partner
Here are a few tips to consider when planning separate vacations.
- Decide on the timing together. You may want to go at the same time or different times. Make the choice together and be very clear about departure and return dates.
- Stay in touch (or not). Plan together how much you'll stay in touch. Some couples want a daily connection; others don't want to hear a word until they're together again. This may be a negotiation but hopefully you can come to a decision that suits both of you.
- Don't drop off the map. Share your itinerary, including hotels, dates, and any changes with your partner. Both of you should be confident in the other's safety.
- Don't document every thing, every minute. Free yourself to live the experience. Your memories and stories will be better and enough to share when you return.
- Don't be concerned about every detail that is going on at home. Set yourself free from daily responsibilities. Really travel solo.
- Share when you return. Be interested in each other's vacations upon your returns. Even if what they did holds little interest for you, because it's your partner and you love them, listen carefully. You'll want the same from them.
Resources for Planning Separate Vacations
With over 1,000 posts on this site, it's a challenge to identify just a few to help you with your travel plans. But this list will get you started.
- The Ultimate Guide to Travel Alone and Love It
- Yes, You Can Travel Solo
- Best Solo Travel Destinations: All Solo Traveler Tested
- Solo Travel Deals
- Travel Planning 2022: Trends, Tips & Checklists to Prepare You
- Bare Minimum Packing: Here’s Your Packing List
- Solo Female Travel
- Going Alone? A Complete Guide to Travel Insurance for Solo Travelers
- Best VPN for Travel: What, Why and Feature-Price Comparison
It's Okay to Travel Without Your Partner
I have received emails from readers who want to travel solo but feel that it is selfish. Or perhaps a partner thinks it's selfish. So, how do you overcome this? How do you shed the travel guilt, make yourself a priority, and plan the solo trip you want? That requires the right mindset. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider.
- Travel solo and free others from guilt. Many spouses aren't interested in travel. By taking off solo, you are freeing your partner or friends of the guilt of holding you back.
- Travel solo for more happiness. Being happy yourself leads to making others happy as well. We all know how contagious a smile can be. Travel solo, come back happy, and spread the smiles.
- Travel solo to rejuvenate. If you have responsibilities to care for others – parents, children, friends – taking some time to travel solo, to make yourself a priority for a while, will make you better able to care for those important people in your life.
- Travel solo and avoid frustrating others. When traveling with others there has to be some give and take. However, if you're still not getting enough of what you want from a trip, go solo. Don't drag people where they don't want to go.
- Travel solo as a gift to others. Sometimes, doing something selfish is actually giving a gift to someone else. If you have been generous with your time and talents, it's likely that the recipients would like to return your generosity and feel good about you taking time to yourself.
- Travel solo because the guilt is unnecessary. In my experience, those people who carry guilt often have the least reasons to feel guilty. Natural caregivers and those who are thrust into caregiving roles may find it difficult to shed the responsibilities and travel solo. It may be hard work to do so but you should take care of yourself once in a while knowing that there is no reason to feel guilty.
Know that solo is not selfish and go.