I met my boyfriend knowing that I wanted to travel solo. It was a fairly short three and a half month trip but the year leading up to it was filled with apprehension about our relationship and whether it would survive the time and distance. My only certainty was my conviction that I had to go and he knew better than to get in my way.
I’m not going to lie, travelling solo when you’re in a relationship is hard but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m planning to do it again. You spend so much time wrapped up in each other’s lives that it’s easy to lose track of who you are. Of course, you miss them but if you allow yourself to be apart from them you will find a strength that you never knew you had.
Don’t let people ruin your dreams
I’m a member of several travelling groups on Facebook and I sometimes see people posting about their partners trying to prevent them from travelling. It’s sad to see them agonise over the choice between their relationship and their dreams.
Unless it’s for a very good reason (and one I haven’t encountered yet), if your partner stands in the way of your travelling then they don’t care about you. They only seek to stunt your experiences of the world by binding you to them in selfish ownership. If a partner readily tries to ruin your travel plans then they could just as easily destroy the rest of your aspirations and dreams.
It’s a form of control. They guilt you into thinking that you’re ruining the relationship by travelling when in reality you don’t owe them anything.
Entering into a relationship doesn’t automatically glue you to the hip of your partner. You’re not obligated to do everything together. You’re just two human beings that have decided to hang out a lot. You’re allowed, if not encouraged to be your own person.
Your relationship is doomed if they stop you from travelling. You will simply regret not going and those feelings will manifest into bitterness towards your partner. A relationship is not meant to last if it gets in the way of your dreams.
It’s okay to want to go travelling alone
It’s a myth that once you’re in a relationship you have to do everything together. It’s okay to have different dreams. You can still be with someone and want to go travelling alone. There might be a certain place in the world that’s only special to you. Or maybe you both just have differing travelling dreams. It’s normal.
You also can’t expect someone to drop everything and travel with you. We’re all at different stages in our lives. A trip you’ve been saving up for months might not appeal to someone who has just started their dream job or a new business.
Travelling solo when you’re in a relationship is such an underrated and rewarding experience. It’s easy to forget who you are once you’ve been in a long-term relationship for a while. Solo travel offers you a rare opportunity to reclaim yourself and your independence.
Just because you have a different set of experiences to your partner it doesn’t mean you’re any less close. In fact, being apart from them can make your relationship stronger.
It’s not easy leaving them behind
Heading off into the horizon on a solo trip without your partner is not a walk in the park, however. It’s actually pretty hard and I wasn’t prepared for it at all.
As soon as I said my goodbyes and boarded the plane the tears were unleashed. I don’t think it was entirely my fault. Apparently your emotions become heightened due to the altitude on a plane so you’re more susceptible to crying.
Still, I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. I was heading to the other side of the world alone for the first time and I didn’t have a clue what to expect. After all those months of excitement leading up to my trip I was ashamed to admit that I just wanted the plane to turn around so I could go back home. I was so disappointed in myself. I felt like a terrible solo traveller.
Time makes it easier
The first few weeks travelling solo were a challenge. New Zealand wasn’t exactly a culture shock but the timezone still took some getting used to. I even caught myself counting down the days until I could see my boyfriend again.
But after awhile I started noticing a change. I immersed myself in as many activities as I could and I started to enjoy my surroundings the more I engaged with them. I forgot why I was so hung up about counting the days, and I even stopped thinking so much about my boyfriend.
I was enjoying the time to myself immensely and the thought of going home filled me with dread. The less I spent thinking about the days I had left the more quickly they went by. Typical really.
By the time three and a half months had passed and I had to board the plane home I didn’t want to leave. In fact, I could have quite happily stayed an extra three or four months.
The tears shed for my boyfriend on the flight at the start of my trip had been replaced by the sadness of my solo travels being over. That’s the problem with the travel bug. Once it’s bitten down it very rarely lets go no matter what you’ve got waiting at home.
I was happily in a relationship but solo travel had given me more freedom than I had ever known and I was thirsty for more.
Don’t let your relationship dictate what to do
It is possible to travel solo and be in a relationship at the same time. They’re far from mutually exclusive. But a relationship can influence a solo trip. You might find yourself shortening the length of your travels from what you originally planned or wanting to postpone it because you just can’t bear to be apart from your partner. It happens. We’re all human after all.
You ultimately have to listen to what you really want. No one else can or should tell you. Think about the real reasons why you want to shorten or delay your trip. Is it fear in general or the fear of missing them that’s holding you back?
Ask yourself why you want to come home early. If you know that a part of you would quite happily stay but you feel obligated to as it doesn’t feel fair on your partner then talk to them. You don’t want to hurt them but you really don’t want to regret coming home too early because you feel like you have no choice.
There’s always a way even if you love someone as much as you love travelling. I met a couple of long-term travellers in relationships who would go home to their partners every few months before continuing their travels. You just have to find a way that works for you and your partner.
Should you break up?
You know your relationship the best and if it can handle the time away. No one can tell you what’s best for you and your partner. If you both want to make your relationship work then it will. It’s as simple as that. Distance doesn’t have to get in the way of it.
I’ve met loads of people in international relationships who go a long time without seeing their partner. Make no mistake it’s hard work but it’s possible. You just have to find your way.
Of course, if your partner tries to stop you from living your solo travelling dreams then dump them. Frankly you don’t want to waste valuable time on that!
Thanks for reading,