Vietnam was my seventh solo trip, but it was the first time I solo traveled while being in a relationship. It’s a different experience, because while I genuinely enjoy wandering through a foreign place alone, I now have someone I am thrilled to share my life and adventures with.
It’s easy for people to assume that if you’re solo traveling without your partner, there’s trouble in paradise. Wrong. In fact, solo traveling in a relationship actually helps the relationship.
Here’s what it’s really like to solo travel in a relationship.
1. Yes, it can be lonely as hell.
I was hesitant to admit this, but let’s get it out of the way. Does it make me dependent or weak to miss my partner? No, it doesn’t. I’m still strong and independent, and wanting someone to share amazing experiences with doesn’t take those traits away from me. So I am not ashamed to say I oftentimes ached for my partner. Years ago, solo travel initially served as a way to take a break from my lonely and confusing life in New York City and to connect me with people from around the world. I was able to do that, but having the one person I really wanted to share my life with so far away definitely made the trip difficult at times.
2. It reminds you that you’re a person outside of the relationship.
When you solo travel, people assume you’re single. And when you tell them you’re not, it’s hard for a lot of people to comprehend that your partner isn’t with you. I went on a very romantic cruise around Halong Bay, and I enjoyed the surprise on all the paired up people’s faces when I told them I am in a happy, healthy, committed partnership but I’m traveling alone.
My relationship doesn’t take away my individualism. I am always a “me,” whether I’m part of a “we” or not, and that can be quite easy to forget.
Sure, it was hard and I missed my boyfriend, but I realized how removed from other human connection couples can be when they’re together. I channelled my social individual self, made friends with everyone and was able to sit on my own journaling and relishing in the fact that I was cruising around Vietnam.
3. It reminds you of why you’re in this relationship.
Putting space, and other people and independent experiences between two people will ultimately bring up your happiness or sadness in the relationship.
You can connect with so many people around the world, and there isn’t just one person out there we can have amazing chemistry with; but having those opportunities to meet soulmates (platonic or not) can remind you why you’re with this person and how much you want to work on it.
4. It gives you space to reevaluate where the relationship is going.
Traveling in general is such a good way to take a break from your routine, and it puts into perspective what you want and don’t want to be doing with your life. Each of my solo travels have given me a new sense of direction in life when I returned home, and now that I’m in a relationship, it was an experience that has helped me and my partner think about our lives together on a macro level rather than continuing on with the complacent everyday routine it’s so easy to fall into.
5. It helps you distinguish between “want” and “need.”
Wanting a person and needing a person are two different things. Being away from my partner and meeting all types of people from all over the world reminded me what my partner adds to my life and what I miss about him, and more importantly, why I want him. It also puts into perspective the kind of partner I want to be.
Also, solo traveling really tests your self-reliance and can teach you that ultimately, you are the only person you need in this world to be okay, to be happy and to live the life you want. Being in a healthy relationship is a major plus, but it’s not the solution anyone needs for a happy life.
6. It fosters a sense of independence that ultimately reveals what kind of person your partner is.
These adventures are your independent experience outside of the relationship and that really brings out people’s true characters. Jealousy, impatience, consideration, compromise… these are all things that are tested when you’re shaking your life up and your partner is in the middle of his normal everyday routine. My partner was beyond supportive. He wanted me to meet people, go on the adventures I was excited about and gave me the space to really experience the culture on my own. He wasn’t overbearing, but when I had a few scary mishaps, he was there and ready to help me find solutions if, and only if, I needed it.
7. It teaches you how you and your partner communicate.
I truly don’t think there’s anything more important in a relationship than communication. Solo traveling without your partner is a good way to test what your communication style is and whether you and your partner are compatible. Do you like to keep in touch? Does your partner not? Is your partner constantly worried if you’re safe because you’ve decided to ditch communication? Do you want to carve time to speak with them on your trip? Does jealousy manifest because of the space?
8. It builds your confidence in living life to the fullest and reminds you of how strong you really are.
And even though there are times it was difficult, I plan to keep solo traveling through the course of our relationship. And you know what? My partner supports that wholeheartedly.