Couple Travel: When Couples Take Separate Vacations

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When couples take separate vacations

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If you had asked me six months ago whether I could see myself traveling without Justin, I would have definitely said no. If you had asked me if I could envision Justin traveling without me, I would have told you, “No way! I would want to be there, too!”. As it turns out, Justin and I ended up planning separate vacations. As he is returning tonight from his week-long holiday to the Dominican Republic, I’ve taken the time to reflect upon his vacation away from home and my feelings about it.

Most of the time, I would much rather Justin and I travel together. There’s nothing like discovering new places together and creating wonderful memories with your special someone. Whether it’s while we are traveling or in our daily lives at home, I cherish our moments together. Justin and I work and live together; most of the time, we’re inseparable. Much of this travel blog focuses on our times spent as a couple providing stories and travel tips for fellow traveling couples.

So, why did we plan two separate vacations apart?

It all started when my sister, Robyn and I were discussing the possibility of attending Women In Travel Summit in Boston together. We thought it would be a fun getaway to an event focusing on women who travel. Clearly, Robyn would get more out of this than Justin would, so it was a no-brainer that she attend the conference with me rather than him. The more we started researching the trip and looking up prices, the more we realized that this was going to be more expensive than we thought. As I explained in a past blog post entitled, When Travel Plans Spontaneously Change, we switched gears from Boston to a Caribbean cruise (around the same price and twice the vacation time – a week instead of four days). Robyn and I haven’t traveled together since we were kids on family trips. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I’d be taking a holiday without Justin. If that had been the other way around, I wouldn’t be too happy or impressed. I would want to be on that cruise ship with him. Of course, before booking the cruise, I asked Justin what he thought about it. Immediately, he said that he thought it would be really fun if I took a holiday with my sister and that I should go ahead and book it. Justin is such a sweet person with a very kind heart, not feeling jealous or disappointed by my decision to take a vacation without him. Instead, he was happy that I would have a good time.

When Couples Take Separate Vacations

A couple of weeks passed and the weather started to get chillier. In the Toronto area this winter, it has been ridiculously cold. You really can’t spend much time outdoors without wrapping yourself in knitwear from head to toe. Justin wanted to experience some warm weather for himself and I could hardly blame him. He’d mentioned wanting to take a week-long vacation to a resort before, though it isn’t exactly my kind of holiday. While I do love relaxing on the beach, I enjoy it for about a day. Then, I want to move on to the next place to explore. I’d likely spend more time taking excursions or finding my way around a country or island than I would on the beach. With that said, Justin truly wanted a beach vacation where he could relax on the beach and do nothing if he wished. It ended up working out perfectly as two of his friends wanted to jet off to a resort. And, for the past week, Justin has been soaking up the sun in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

My Time Alone

Well, not completely alone. Our little kitty, Chickpea has been keeping me company. I should also mention that we deliberately planned our holidays on two different weeks so we wouldn’t have to find a cat-sitter. That isn’t to say that Chickpea doesn’t wonder where Justin has gone. I can tell that Chickpea misses him as he is extra cuddly at night with me, spooning right in next to me in bed (and he’s there when I wake up in the morning, too). The first couple of days without Justin were rough. Since we started dating almost three years ago, we’ve never been apart for this length of time. Even before we lived together, we would hang out a few times a week or I’d see him at work. For those days where we couldn’t see one another, we could at least send text messages. Justin has limited Internet access in the Dominican, so he’s only been able to send me an email once a day. My days seemed rather boring and mundane without him. I would wake up, go to work, go to the gym, and go to bed. I felt lonely. I was thinking about what he might be doing at that particular moment. When someone told me a funny story or something interesting happened, I would usually pick up my phone and text it to him. Not anymore. It felt very strange and very wrong.

However, after a couple of days, things were getting better. The end was in sight for my work week. I had made some plans with a good friend of mine for Friday night, and made some more plans with go clothes shopping with my sister in preparation for our trip. I was researching the itinerary for mine and Justin’s upcoming trip to Italy in May. I had some extra time to myself to do the things that I enjoyed, like cooking, reading, and knitting. It isn’t as though I don’t do those things when Justin is around, but it was different. I could do whatever I wanted without thinking about what he might like to do, too. I could be completely selfish.

When Couples Take Separate Vacations

What I’ve Learned

Justin returns home tonight and I can’t wait to see him! It will be so great to have him back and I can’t wait to hear about his trip. I hope he took lots of great photos and video so I can share them with you guys, too! I really look forward to getting back into our daily routines, like going to the gym together, having dinner together, and of course, traveling together. I think that our time apart has been a good thing and it’s quite possible that every couple could benefit from some time apart.

First of all, I have learned that I do cherish some quiet time by myself. I can read, do yoga, or even just think to myself in silence. Second of all, having this time apart has made me realize even more how much I love him. I miss him so much, and sometimes to realize how much you truly love and miss someone, you need to spend some time apart. The saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” holds true. In a relationship, sometimes the moments apart make you truly appreciate the relationship you have.

What does the future hold? Well, I definitely see Justin and I continuing to travel together most of the time. However, if there’s something that he’s not that into that I’d like to do (for instance, a yoga trip), I will just go on my own! If there’s a time when he is unable to travel but I’m able to, I will take the opportunity and go whether it is a solo trip or with friends. And at the same time, if he wants to take a vacation that I don’t find particularly appealing, he is welcome to go on his own. Even if we can’t share all of our travel moments together, we’ll always return to one another with fantastic stories. I’m happy to say that we are secure and trusting enough in our relationship that we can spend time apart because we know that we’ll be reunited soon. And I’m happy for the moment that I’ll get to see him walk through our front door.

What do you think – should couples take separate vacations? Have you ever traveled apart from your partner?


16 Responses

  1. Katrina Elisabet
    | Reply

    I feel like this post was written just for me, and you expressed my thoughts on the subject perfectly. :) My other half is in London for a business trip, and I am alone with the cat, dog, chickens, and goats (so I guess I’m not truly “alone”!) This happened last year, too, and at first I was envious and forlornly. But after taking a solo trip to Denver to see a friend and after having had the house all to myself the last few days, it is kind of nice to enjoy a mini-bachelorette time. Don’t get me wrong – I infinitely prefer traveling with him, but I think I can be okay with us taking solo trips once in a blue moon.

  2. Sherry
    | Reply

    I try and take a girlfriend’s vacation every year. Missed it last year and won’t let it happen again. It’s just a 3-4 day weekend, but means the world to me.

  3. Sam
    | Reply

    You guys! You are totally right, Lauren; having that kind of time apart is so good for a relationship, and it’s really something my husband and I need to make more time for. I think because when I first started travelling, it was for work, and Zab couldn’t come with me most of the time, that when we were together, we would do everything together to make the most of that time we had. Now that we live a much more flexible life together, we’ve continued that habit, even when it might be wiser to spend time doing separate things. I think it’s so necessary to have individual experiences, and yes, though it’s corny, it’s true that being apart for a while makes you appreciate your partner so much more – it’s very easy to take someone for granted when you’re together 24/7! So good for you guys!

  4. Marissa
    | Reply

    Brandon and I travel separately all the time! It mainly happens just because of work schedules, but sometimes it’s really nice to have some alone time. He’s actually been gone this weekend and I’ve been very peaceful :) I also might do a longer stay where he might meet meet for as long as he is able to based on his job. I think it’s important to find whatever works best for each couple, but it really isn’t that crazy to spend some time traveling separately every so often!

  5. Heather @ TravelingSaurus
    | Reply

    Great post, I totally agree!

    I’ve taken trips without my husband (then fiance), and while I definitely missed him, it was a great bonding experience with whomever I was with (my best friend, mom, etc). I think it’s important and healthy to have time away, sometimes, to help you reflect on what you enjoy about the other person and want to share with them.

    But we try to take trips together, if time and budget allows. Though we are both free to take separate vacations if needed or wanted–like going somewhere the other doesn’t want to go, or meeting up with friends or family. And of course sometimes we stagger trips so we don’t have to leave the dog :)

  6. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    | Reply

    My husband used to earn vacation time much faster than I did. He’d go on a ski vacation with all our friends once a year while I stayed home and worked. Now, he gets to travel for business and do some recreational sightseeing on the weekends that he’s away. The strange thing is that I enjoy traveling much more than he does, yet circumstances have led to him getting more opportunities to do it. When he’s gone, I do stay up much later, eat different things, and watch more TV than when he’s here.

  7. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    | Reply

    I completely agree Lauren! A couple of years ago, before we were married, my husband had 2 fixed weeks of leave from work, which I wasn’t able to arrange at the same time – rather than expecting him to sit around for a fortnight while I was at work, I was totally on board when he suggested a trip to Costa Rica. Of course, I would have loved to have joined if I was free but it can be healthy for a relationship to have that time apart sometimes.

  8. Meg Jerrard
    | Reply

    Great post, thanks for writing this Lauren. I’m in the same situation where I now rarely travel without my other half. Unless a solo trip is for a specific purpose or part of a paid job there’s never much point to taking separate trips for us and it doesn’t necessarily do our relationship any favors. I did travel home to Australia alone for 3 weeks over Christmas due to finances it was easier for only one of us to go – it was definitely fun having my own time and being able to reflect in my own space, but ultimately I think I prefer to travel as a couple :)

  9. Toccara
    | Reply

    I’m going on my first solo trip next month and I think I’m more sad about going without my husband than he is about not traveling halfway around the world with me. We’re pretty inseparable as well and we travel well together, so going traveling without my ‘partner in crime’ will be a whole new experience. It’ll still be good for both of us, at the same time, as he’ll get his alone/guy time and I will be forced to step out of my shell a little more! Eager to see how we both fare during my first week-long solo trip!

  10. Sammi Wanderlustin'
    | Reply

    I feel you on the loneliness thing, my boyfriend and I live in different countries. We were hoping to be living together by April but life threw a spanner in the works there so it won’t be until at least November. And I miss him like crazy, like I didn’t speak to him much yesterday and have yet to speak to him today and I feel like my heart is ready to explode! It will be fine tho’ he’ll be home for a visit in about 8 weeks, and after that we only plan on it being every 8-10 weeks that we see each other anyway.

  11. antonette - we12travel
    | Reply

    Great post! As I work in tourism I am used to traveling without my other half and luckily I’ve learned to enjoy it as much as when we’re together. About 50% of the journeys we take are not together and I love it that we can both do our own thing and be who we want to be. He likes climbing, I like hiking, so we spend vacations separately to do the stuff we like. However, when he gets home again after 3 weeks (yes, this sometimes happens) I’m way too excited and can’t help being over the moon my guy is home again <3

  12. Beth
    | Reply

    My fiancé and I travel separately all the time. Of course, we still travel together as well, but sometimes it’s nice to go on our own adventures. :)

  13. elaine schoch
    | Reply

    I haven’t done too much traveling “alone” but it does have its upsides…and downsides. While, I do prefer to travel as a couple it doesn’t always work with schedules, kids and life. Glad you guys were able to make the trips – and come back together.

  14. Nussaïbah
    | Reply

    I’m in a long distance relationship at the moment so we do spend a lot of time apart – hard. We also try to coordinate our trips together so at least we’d be travelling and exploring together. However, I do tend to go off alone as well. It helps me realise how strong I am alone and what I can do when I don’t have someone to fall onto when things go wrong.

  15. Anna
    | Reply

    I definitely think couples who live together (and even work together in your case!) benefit from separating once in a while! D and I have been together 24/7 for months now, and even when we get a rental with a living room AND bedroom, it makes so much difference in that we can be in separate rooms and do our own things! When we went back home for a few weeks back in October, it was really nice to go see our own friends and be apart during the day. I’m also not opposed to traveling separately, but I’m concerned that Id just be completely lost without him since I’m totlaly inept at planning!

  16. Lina
    | Reply

    I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog post, as I have an upcoming trip that will be separate from my husband. It has always been a dream of mine to backpack through Europe, and while I meant to do it sooner, I allowed grad school to put my plans on the backburner. I told him that this is something I wanted to do before any kiddos enter the picture, and he was surprisingly incredibly supportive and really excited for me. So now I’m planning on going on a 3-week adventure next fall! Backpacking isn’t really his style of travel and he won’t have the vacation time, but we do intend on taking trips to Europe together in the future. I believe in individuality even when in a relationship, and while I do anticipate most of our vacations will be together, I see no harm in separate trips from time to time. This will probably be the longest trip I ever go on without him, but I still foresee short trips apart in the future, such as with the girls. I would expect him to get away with the guys sometime, as well! It’s a great thing to be able to have both individual and shared experiences. Happy travels!

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