Backpacking and Beyond · Female Travel Hack · Hacks For Wanderlust · Inspirational Corner · Solo Female Travel · Thoughts

Confessions Of A [Married] Solo Twenty-Something Female Traveler

Coming from a culture where wives are expected to submit to their husbands, it was quite something to attempt to pull off a decision to go backpacking in Southeast Asia all by myself. Mind you, I was only gone for over a month, the first week of which, my husband joined me. We’ve gotten different reactions, from enthusiastic ones, to plain disbelief. “Why would you let your wife go alone?” and “Are you guys okay?” are the most common responses we’ve gotten. Truth is, my decision to go alone has completely nothing to do with my husband or our marriage. I did put them in consideration, but I never really felt the need to explain myself to anyone. I wanted to travel, and I wanted to go alone– so I did. That was really all there is to it. I guess it can’t be helped for some people to wonder and even go as far as putting some meaning behind it. Though it doesn’t bother me, I’d like to share with you the reality of what it was like to leave my husband at home while I went off to see a beautiful part of the world.

Are we unhappy?

There’s a few common misconception about solo travelers. They want to find themselves. Something is missing. They’re unhappy with their lives. Blah blah blah. But if you’re married and you’re traveling alone, apparently, you’re marriage is going down the drain. But the answer is no, we are not unhappy. We are in a very happy, healthy, and *enviable* marriage, as a matter of fact. He was very supportive about my decision to take off without him. He knew it’s always been my dream and instead of making me feel guilty, he encouraged me to chase it. And no, he was not banging someone else while I was gone.

On Socializing

Because I stayed at hostels, I was surrounded by young ones; gap year travelers, college students and graduates, and twenty something backpackers like myself. I’m not really surprised at the reaction I get when I say I’m married, because at 28, I don’t look particularly my age. The great thing I love about meeting other travelers is that no one ever judges you. Everyone is on the same level. Even the older ones are easy to connect with because married or not, it’s simple, we have the same desire to see the world. I still get hit on by guys until they find out I’m married, but that’s probably because I wasn’t wearing my ring. Wait, I WASN’T WEARING MY WHAT? Oh yeah, I broke my ring while traveling. (Don’t ask why, it was the stupidest thing that probably happened while I was traveling– because it happened in a hostel. On my bunk.)

Doesn’t your husband worry?

First of all, if my husband didn’t trust me, and I’m not just referring to infidelity matters, but also with my safety and my judgment as well, I wouldn’t have just left that easily. But besides his confidence, I also assure him that there’s no need to worry by doing little things, such as, messaging him or calling him when I leave and come back to my hostel, telling him where I’m at, giving him my itinerary, etc. I don’t feel obliged to do so, but I want to. And since I’m traveling alone, I make sure I limit my drinking. Not because “married women shouldn’t”, but because 1) I was being a cautious solo traveler, and 2) It’s one less thing for him to worry about. The purpose of my travel wasn’t to wild out and get drunk to begin with, but to see and learn new things. I don’t have anything against that travel style neither, because I definitely travel with that intention too, just not when I’m alone.

The Judgments

As I’ve said earlier, I never felt judged by other travelers. I got questioned as to why my husband didn’t come, but that’s about it. For some reason, it’s a mutual understanding between travelers that when you’ve got the lust for the world, there’s no stopping it. The judgments I received were from the locals. Oddly enough, they were usually from cab drivers. Then again, I was in Southeast Asia where non-submissive wives are frowned upon. A cab driver in Manila once questioned my ability as a wife because I was sleeping over at a female friend’s house 2 hours away from mine. “That should not be allowed”, he implied. So imagine people’s expressions when I told them I was traveling for a whole month alone. I got called crazy a few times, but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing the world.

The Loneliness

I’m not going to lie, I do have a strong attachment to my husband. I cried when I dropped him off at the airport in Thailand and it wasn’t easy sleeping without him every night. Although it wasn’t the first time I traveled alone or without him, I get a little melancholic when I see such beautiful places wishing I could have shared it with him. I’ve gotten so used to traveling with him and we always have a wonderful time together. The first day was the hardest, traveling from Bangkok to Siem Reap. It was long, it was tiring, and I was quite new to this travel style. Though I very much enjoy eating alone, seeing couples eating dinner made me a little bitter. I allowed myself one bad day, and that was that. I still missed him every single day, but I was too busy to really focus on that. It got lonely sometimes, just as any traveler gets, and I dealt with it like anybody else would– I submerged myself in those new places.

The Outcome

The outcome was exactly what I have expected; I was able to experience something I will forever thank myself for. Everything about the experience– including the judgments, were all very humbling. To be fortunate enough to chase my dreams in my “unconventional” circumstances and still have a supporting husband to come home to, is something I may never be able to articulate completely. My arrival wasn’t until 5:30 am, but he was at the airport by 4, with flowers and my favorite local fast food meal. Did it make our marriage stronger? I can’t honestly answer that our marriage is better BECAUSE I traveled, because as I’ve said in the beginning, our marriage has nothing to do with my travels at all. We’re just as happy, if not happier, today, but I won’t say that my traveling is accountable for that. Traveling alone was solely for me. Not for him, not for my marriage, not for anyone.

Will I do it again? Absolutely. Probably not for a month anymore, but I still will. Once a year, if I could. We’ve still yet to try backpacking together though. As much as we’ve traveled as a couple, I’m sure backpacking will be a different experience for us. I’m also trying to encourage him to go travel alone as well. I’m a huge believer that solo travel does the soul good, and that everyone should try it at least once.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to just go off the way I did. With even stricter cultures, unfortunate circumstances, job and financial matters, I understand that traveling, solo or not, is just not something anyone can instantly do. But the way I live my life, I believe that dreams and your own happiness are just as essential as those. Forgive me if I sound a little self-centered, because in all honesty, it was probably a little selfish.  But guess what, life doesn’t end when marriage begins. Dreams don’t shatter, and ambitions are supposed to get bigger. After all, marriage is all about inspiring each other to become a better version of yourself.

So I guess when all is said and done, it comes down to just one significant factor to pull off traveling solo without guilt as a married girl– a healthy marriage. But then again, would I let an unhealthy marriage stop me from seeing the rest of the world? That’s something I hope I’ll never have to find out.

my number one fan and supporter since day one

How do you feel about married solo travelers? I would love to hear your two cents on this. Tell me if you’ve done it and what responses you received! If you also enjoyed what you read, follow me on Facebook so you can stay updated on my latest travel finds and blurbs! 

57 thoughts on “Confessions Of A [Married] Solo Twenty-Something Female Traveler

  1. I used to travel a lot on my own and I was surprised to hear questions like “how can you travel on your own, oh nooooo”. What is it they think a girl would do when she travels without a husband?
    What difference does it make? I still don’t understand

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  2. Good for you! My husband traveled a lot as a child, so now he doesn’t want to. I’ve joked/threatened to just go off and see the world without him (he replied Okay). We’re thinking about a trip to Paris because I’ve never been there (he has of course).

    I understand what you mean about the loneliness. I went to my first professional conference in May, and it was also the first time I had been on my own. It may not seem like much to some people, but it was a big deal for me. First night, Husband goes two frantic phone calls from me about whether or not I should come home. It’s hard sleeping without him.

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  3. I am very happy I came across you and this post. I am also a Girls Who Travel member and feel as if this will be me when I am 28 and married. Thank you for giving us all hope that travel, discovery, and learning is not over when you get hitched.

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    1. I’m so glad and flattered that enjoyed this post! It’s one of the biggest myth about marriage that the fun stops as soon as you saw your vows. Trust me, when you’re with the right person, it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t lose hope, stay free, and keep traveling!

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  4. This was a very nice read. I was actually thinking about this a little while ago because I am conserably younger (17 years) and I was not sure whether the fact that once I get out of uni (planning on going to one), get work and get married whether there will be any possibility for me whatsoever to just wander of… I am glad you decided to put it down and let the whole world know it is possible to travel as a married woman. I did something similar on travelling as a student http://bonfiredream.wix.com/wanderlust#!How-to-travel-while-studying/czh7/2 but what I really liked about your post opposed to mine is that it was not theoretical and general, but that it was very personal describing own experience.

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    1. Hi Daphne, thank you and I’m glad you like this post. Congrats on getting married! I do hope your husband would understand too. I’m sure he will since you guys are both traveling right now, he knows the importance of traveling, period 🙂

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  5. I hope I can find someone as chilled as your husband one day! Travelling on my own is one of the best things I have done and I can’t imagine being with someone that wouldn’t allow that. You’re kicking goals girl! xx

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  6. There are some trips that are worth going to alone. I used to prefer being in big groups until I tried solo travel. Of course, it’s nice to have a permanent photographer with you but sometimes being alone just allows you to explore things on your own time. Good job to your husband for being supportive.

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  7. I love that you did this and didn’t let any naysayers stop you. I recently did a week of travel without my husband – and it was wonderful. I can’t wait for him to experience Greece with me in a few years. But this summer – that solo experience was what I needed. So often society asks us to define ourselves by our relationships: spouse, parent…but we are more than that. And I think it’s a beautiful thing when a spouse understands that and encourages the other to flourish.

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  8. so I guess I should start reminiscing my 1st solo adventure 10 months ago. it’s been so long but I still have the memories. the difference is that, that, I traveled to chase for something. haha. i hope someday I can do the same as you did. good for you that you find a better half who is supportive enough. maybe i should take the advice of someone a month ago that I should date someone with same interest as mine so he could understand where I’m coming from. haha

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  9. Travelling solo has somehow gotten a bad rap especially when you are married. While we did so genuinely loving it more than ever, the society just can’t seem to see it that way. But really what’s wrong with us travelling solo? Double standards eh?

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  10. I come from a much different culture, being Australian, and I still get looked at weird or questioned because I travel without my husband. Honestly I don’t care what people think in the end… It makes me happy!

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  11. Very interesting to read your perspective. I am a married woman and recently took a solo trip, many people really didn’t get it but that’s ok, many others also did within the travelling circle. I love travelling with my husband but we ended up having to go on separate trips. I learnt a lot about myself on that trip, it was quite a rollercoaster but pushed me out of a comfort zone I never knew I was in!

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  12. This is such a great post! Even when I was travelling with the Southern States of the US on my own I kept being asked ‘Did you boyfriend LET you come?’… I was so confused… what do you mean LET..!
    My partner and I are now travelling the world for a year… apart. We both had travel dreams before we met and wanted to do them before we travel more together and pick somewhere to settle down. He is sailing around the world in race and I am volunteering and travelling by land (scared of the sea/boats). We are meeting up along the way and will travel together when we both finish as well but this is something we both want to do – doesn’t mean we love each other less! We have had all those comments as well, plus my pet hate comment – ‘Well this will be the test of your relationship’, as though we aren’t serious about each other. SIGH!
    Sorry for my rant, but I love this post 🙂

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    1. Don’t be sorry, I’m happy to hear that I’m definitely not alone in this! That is really impressive that you guys are traveling the world regardless if you’re together or not. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s people misunderstanding the essence of travel OR misunderstanding what a healthy relationship really is like. If you have no insecurity, it’s really easy to pull it off! Glad to hear your story 🙂

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  13. You rock! Your marriage is clearly a loving, healthy and supportive one and I admire how you remain independent and true to your own needs and desires whilst sharing lots of happiness with your loved one ♥

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  14. I want to do a solo trip soon. I am just a bit shy and a bit of a scary cat. When I’m alone I almost find it hard to find a place to eat. My plan is that I will go by myself to a familiar place and practice, and then once I am comfortable, I will try a completely foreign place. I admire your courage!

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  15. I’ve travelled with my partner since we met 8 years ago – we met backpacking and have been together ever since – and I have not taken a solo trip in this time. But all that is about the change later this year. We have a weekend in Europe where he has got other things to attend to (his best friends stag party) and I am going to take myself to somewhere in Europe. I know it’s only a weekend – but I think even this short amount of time will be good for both of us. I love that you traveled for your own reasons outside of your relationship and that it was good for your relationship – but not because of it. I hope the same happens as a result of my trip 🙂

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