Last year, I did something that ruined a friendship. It didn’t involve stereotypical cat-fight situations: sleeping with her husband or gossiping behind her back. So what did I do? I traveled … without my husband.
Apparently, this meant I was a slut who was obviously traveling to cheat on my husband. (Not that I would cheat, but I wouldn’t need to travel halfway around the world to do it.) Clearly, this is a controversial issue because when you Google “travel without husband,” the third result is a message board post by a woman asking if it’s okay to travel without her husband. There’s also a very old question on Yahoo! Answers asking the same. Thankfully, most of the people explained that it’s perfectly fine for married women to travel alone. And it is.
What does this say about our society, that women need to constantly reassure themselves of this? I don’t need permission to travel without my husband. And I don’t need judgment from women who go everywhere with their husbands. The reality is that many couples aren’t able to take vacations together either because of conflicting work schedules or, you know, not having enough vacation days. I do live in the United States, after all.
A couple years ago, Time wrote “Is It Healthy for Couples to Travel Apart?” Spoiler: It is.
So, are separate vacations a good idea? Ian Kerner, a sex and relationships counselor and the best-selling author of She Comes First and Sex Recharge, wishes more couples would take them. “I certainly think [separate vacations] would be an excellent trend because absence does make the heart grow fonder.”
Still, many couples I spoke with wouldn’t dream of going away without their mates. “Where’s the fun in that?” asked one devoted husband. Another woman revealed that she used to vacation without her ex-husband all the time. “But,” she confided, “only so I could cheat.” (I think it’s safe to say that marriage had issues beyond the odd solo trip.)
Far from being a symptom of a troubled relationship, Kerner says solo vacationing is often quite the opposite: “I think it’s cool to be able to travel separately — it’s an indication that you’re in trusting, safe, secure relationship,” he says.
“If you don’t trust your spouse enough to have some separate time, then that should be examined, not why you would want to have a separate vacation once in a while,” says Rogoff Moraga.
It’s no wonder my ex-friend assumed I was traveling halfway around the world to get laid. However, my feelings are accurately summed up in the last sentence. Couples who spend every single moment together simply don’t trust each other enough to be apart. Period.
The first solo trip I took was to New Zealand to visit a former co-worker who moved there. My husband didn’t have any vacation days at the time. So I went without him. Shortly afterward, I got laid off from my job and used my severance to fund solo trips to Morocco and Turkey. I met several other women who were traveling alone, both single and married. I encountered a lot of people who said, “It’s too bad your husband couldn’t come” or “Don’t you wish your husband were here?” In New Zealand, yes. In Morocco and Turkey, no. I know my husband’s travel style; he would have been miserable wandering through overcrowded mosques and bazaars in Marrakesh and Istanbul. He’s more of a hike-in-a-national-park kind of person. And I respect that. (The one vacation we did take together was to Tayrona National Park. It should come as no surprise that it was his all-time favorite vacation.)
On my last day in Turkey, someone said, “I wish I had the courage to travel alone at your age.” She was 56. I’m 27. I smiled. And I thought about how I don’t miss ex-friend at all.