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Traveling Solo: How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Travel...alone

by Mike Jones Jan 7, 2009
Travelling without your significant other. Is it totally crazy and just plain wrong? Not at all.

EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT approach to travel; for some, being the lone wolf is best.

I’m going to assume that anyone actively seeking out this sort of advice wants to travel alone for wholly innocent reasons — namely, a burning desire to see the world –and nothing nefarious (ahem…Thai school girls, cough…Kuta cowboys).

The fact of the matter is, it’s a tough situation. There’s no easy way to tell your lady or man you want to hit the road solo, so before approaching your better half, ask yourself why you want to travel alone. You need to have a good reason.

Be honest, sensitive, and rational.

If you can’t be honest with yourself about your reasons for wanting to leave, then how do you expect to be honest with your significant other?

There’s a strong likelihood your main squeeze is going to be hurt by your desire to travel alone. Be sensitive to the fact that being in a relationship means wanting to share experiences in your life with another person.

Speak calmly, take it slow, and most importantly, be 100% honest. Lying or telling half-truths is just plain disrespectful and if that’s the route you want to take, you might as well end the relationship.

Also, be sure you have your rationalizations on the matter soundly worked out, because nothing will spell disaster faster than zero justification for travelling alone. Your number one goal here is to put your partner at ease and make him or her understand your reasons.

Avoid saying things like, “If I wanted to cheat on you, why would I travel halfway around the world to do it?” As sincere as you may be with that sentiment, it’s just plain weak. If it were true, pretty much every red light district in the world would cease to exist.

There are a million and one reasons why someone would travel halfway around the world to cheat on their significant other – namely because it’s halfway around the world.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Realize that your desire to travel alone while in a relationship is not exactly a common sentiment. It’s difficult for a lot of people to wrap their heads around.

If it’s a case of your significant other simply not wanting to travel anywhere, ever, then you should use this in your appeal and stress how much seeing the world means to you. After all, your partner not wanting to travel puts you in a somewhat difficult situation.

It isn’t fair that you should have to let go of your ambitions based on his or her indifference toward seeing the world. If you can respect your partner’s disinterest in travelling, your partner should respect your desire to travel. Be very careful, however, not to turn it into a diatribe whereby you vent spleen on never being allowed to do what you want.

You’re asking to do something wholly independent and mature and you should treat the situation as such. Arguments are bad news.

Consider a compromise.

It might also be a good idea to suggest a compromise. Exactly what sort of compromise is up to you and your darling dear, but it could help the situation. Agreement with your travel request shows a deep respect for your personal space and a huge amount of trust in your commitment to the relationship. Therefore, if your partner should ask for something in return, be flexible.

If you feel that your relationship is a particularly strong one, say so. Tell your partner that you wouldn’t be asking this if you didn’t already feel completely confident in the strength and trust between you. It’s arguable that time apart can strengthen a relationship, whether it needs it or not. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Careful with this one though, as you don’t want to insinuate in any way that your fondness is somehow lacking.

A few years back, I decided that I was going to go to Thailand for a month, get away from my day job, and write.

My girlfriend at the time completely understood and off I went. We kept in constant contact during my time away and when I returned home a month later, our relationship was stronger than it had ever been.

That girlfriend is now my wife.

Relationships are hard work and each one is different. Just because yours doesn’t resemble others doesn’t mean that it’s somehow less serious or committed. However you do end up handling things, give yourself credit for being up front about your desires.

Life’s too short to hold off on doing the things that matter to you.


For more on the ups and downs of relationships on the road, check out How Being Apart Can Strengthen a Relationship, or How To Travel with your Fiance and Come Back Together.

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