I was sitting on the edge of the pier in Istanbul, torn in two directions.
My legs were dangling over the water. The right leg was vibrating from my foot’s restless air-tapping — ready to move on to my next solo adventure. The left leg was weighed down by the affectionate hand of the man I’d fallen in love with three countries earlier.
We wanted to be together, but I thought a relationship would mean the end of my four years of full-time solo travel.
So we hatched a plan on the back of a napkin. I’d keep going on my solo adventure from Europe to Asia, and match up my stops with big airports. He’d use his generous paid time off to make sure we never went a month without seeing each other.
Honestly, we doubted it would work. A year later, it turns out that we were wrong.
I’m typing this story with my legs in my partner’s lap while he helps organize my solo trip to Kazakhstan. I still travel without him 70% of the time, and we’re happier than we’ve ever been.
I know firsthand that solo travel isn’t just for single women. But in some ways, the world is still catching up to that reality.
Today more than ever before, women of all relationship statuses are traveling the world without partners. While everyone else might be asking why, I’d ask – why not?
Being in a relationship isn’t stopping the woman of today from seeing the world on her own terms, whether for a short trip, a regular hobby, or even a full-time lifestyle.
Over 65% of women in the U.S. have already traveled or vacationed without their partner. Online searches for “solo female travel” have increased by nearly 800% over the past few years.
While the largest and fastest-growing demographic of solo travelers is women over 50, millennial women are changing the game too. 58% of millennials worldwide are willing to travel alone, compared to 47% of older generations.
Attitudes about both solo female travel and the nature of relationships have evolved, creating a new space for women in relationships to travel solo more than ever before.
Here are seven reasons why women in relationships are traveling solo now more than ever:
She Puts Herself First
Long gone are the days of women prioritizing their partners’ needs over their own.
When women travel alone, they put themselves first. And that freaks people out.
When a single woman solo travels, it’s generally seen as brave and inspirational. But when a married or partnered woman does it, she’s often questioned for her “selfishness” and accused of abandoning her significant other or family.
Lindsay Mukaddam is a married solo female traveler and content creator of OneGirlWandering. She recently spoke to us about her experience:
“As women we are conditioned to think of other people’s needs before our own.
Even if you are in a healthy, loving relationship, you are constantly checking in with your partner to get their option or input. It could be simple things like, what you are having for dinner, weekend plans, what TV show you should binge watch, or huge life choices.
With solo travel, I get to focus on myself. I don’t have to check in or worry about anyone, I get to do whatever I want.
It’s important that I set aside time to get back in touch with myself, what I like and enjoy. After a solo trip, I’m able to come back to my relationship refreshed and refilled.”
– Linsay Mukaddam, One Girl Wandering
Being in a relationship or a marriage doesn’t mean that you have to do absolutely everything together, much less for each other.
Many relationships actually get stronger when each person spends valuable time apart to pursue their passions and clarify their sense of self – for example, solo traveling.
Solo Travel Makes Her A Better Partner
There are so many benefits to solo travel that make women and men better partners and spouses to each other.
For women in particular, confidence, self-sufficiency, and personal character development that you gain from your solo travels are probably part of what made you stand out to your significant other in the first place!
There’s a balance between unshakeable self-assuredness and humble curiosity that solo travelers maintain on new adventures. But, here’s the secret – this mentality doesn’t melt away when we return to our partners. It stows away in our suitcases, along with new cultural knowledge and amplified global awareness.
We bring all these strengths home and leverage them to be stronger friends, girlfriends, and wives.
She Sees Her Relationship As Teamwork, Not Handcuffs
Old-fashioned ideas of romantic relationships as restrictive rather than supportive are feeling pretty outdated in 2023. The majority of women today view their partners as a team member, not a warden or a boss.
We don’t feel the need to ask our significant others for permission before booking a trip. In fact, women today are the decision-makers for three in every four travel choices in their households.
In a recent survey, over 82% of solo female travelers – both single and in relationships – answered that their number reason for traveling alone was “Freedom and Flexibility.”
The healthy relationships of today shouldn’t limit women’s freedom; they should actually amplify it.
In a lot of ways, my partner’s top-notch communication skills and consistent support have actually given me more freedom in my solo travels than when I was single.
He helps me book hotels or trains for my solo trips when I’m buried in work. He leaves dinner in the AirBnB oven when I’m scheduled to arrive in a new city late. He debriefs with me after new destinations, celebrating my exciting experiences and sympathizing with my disaster days.
If we think of solo female travel as an ‘individual sport,’ then we can think of our partners as home team bleachers, coaches, and team managers – the support system that helps you achieve your goals even while you play the game alone.
They don’t take away anything from your individual accomplishments or stifle your freedom. Instead, they play a supporting role that reinforces your capability to do amazing things by yourself.
She Doesn’t Care What Others Think Of Her Relationship
When a woman in a relationship travels solo, outsiders are quick to assume that her relationship is either failing or bound to fail.
In four years of solo travel as a single woman, I received very few judgemental comments from friends and family about traveling alone. Since publicly announcing my relationship last year, I now get a flood of messages, calls, and even in-person conversations criticizing my choice to travel without my boyfriend.
Some judge me for “selfishly” continuing full-time solo travels rather than “settling down” in my partner’s home country.
Others warn me that if I spend more than a week or two apart from my boyfriend each year, I’ll be responsible for the destruction of our relationship (never mind his frequent business travel).
Well, the joke’s on the armchair experts.
Solo female travelers have always had to deal with cautionary comments from underqualified outsiders about how, when, where, and whether to travel alone.
We’re used to evaluating and discounting negative comments from people outside the solo travel community. It’s no different when it comes to our relationships.
Over the past five years on the road, hundreds of solo female travelers in relationships have told me their stories. Each tale was unique, but they had a common thread: zero of those women gave a crap about what other people thought about their relationship. They were secure in their choice to travel without their partner and unfazed by criticism.
She Travels Differently Than Her Partner
Sometimes the reason for solo travel is purely logistical. You want to visit a certain destination in a certain way, and no one else does – not even your partner.
A report from Skyscanner this year showed that 65% of solo travelers chose to go on their trip alone because their loved ones didn’t share their travel interests.
Another recent survey of solo travelers in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia showed that their main motivation was overwhelmingly to see the world without waiting for others.
Women aren’t waiting for their partners or compromising on their travel plans. They’re more than willing to take some trips solo, and some together. Not every destination needs to be a romantic getaway.
She’s Not The Only One
The solo female travel community is one of the fastest-growing and most supportive networks in the world.
Facebook groups like Host A Sister and The Solo Female Traveler Network offer diverse, supportive communities of solo female travelers. Other specialized apps like Tourlina and NomadHer connect women with similar solo trips to one another. Solo female travelers share advice, arrange meetups, and encourage one another.
With hundreds of thousands of active members and a more vibrant community than ever before, online resources allow women to find community with other women in relationships who travel alone.
We may be taking a trip alone. But now more than ever, we know that we’re not alone in choosing to travel solo without our significant others.
She Has More Money And Time To Spend On Travel
Solo female travelers these days spend, on average, 18% more on a vacation than people traveling with their partners or friends, according to recent data by TravelInsurance.com. They also found that solo travelers tend to take longer trips, averaging 19 days compared to a multi-person trip’s 13 days.
Between single supplements and paying extra for safety, solo female travelers simply pay more than everyone else. But women today have more disposable income than ever before and aren’t afraid to use it on themselves.
Global averages for women’s salaries are increasing, while gendered ideas about who in a relationship should spend money on leisure are changing.
Post-pandemic spending trends also indicate that both men and women are willing to spend more money on travel than ever before. Having spent months or years at home, we now place a higher value on seeing the world.
The digital nomad trend also plays a factor. With the recent explosion of flexible remote working policies, many women are able to take longer trips without sacrificing progress in their careers or burning up all their paid time off.
When women can travel longer and more frequently, they’re more likely to take a mix of solo trips and group trips.
Next week, my partner and I are signing the lease for our first home together in Kuala Lumpur. We chose to move there in part because it’s a great base for my future solo travels.
Despite our own doubts and other people’s judgements, we’re building a life together that works with my solo travels.
If you’re a solo female traveler considering a relationship, you should know that this combination is more than possible.
If you’re a woman in a relationship considering solo travel, you should feel free and supported to do so.
If solo travel is important to you and your partner is right for you, there is absolutely no reason why your relationship should prevent you from seeing the world solo.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com