How do you choose between your relationship and your travel dreams? Should you leave your boyfriend or husband at home and travel even though he can’t go with you? Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t like traveling, or is afraid to fly. Maybe your husband can’t take time off work (like mine), but you really want to take this trip.
Or maybe your boyfriend has a previous relationship, kids, or an ex-wife that is preventing him from traveling with you. You want to travel, but he can’t. Should you take separate vacations?
“I’m 21 and have been in a relationship for the past year with my boyfriend,” says Tasha on 5 Things to Consider Before Going on a Pilgrimage to India. “He knew I wanted to travel at the beginning of our relationship. He didn’t think much about it at the time but now we’re more serious and he isn’t keen on the idea of us being apart for a year. He doesn’t see the point in a relationship if I’m going to travel. I can’t ask him to come traveling with me as he has a two year old and I’ve grown quite attached to his little boy. Basically I want to travel for a year but my boyfriend doesn’t want me to. This has put me in two minds about traveling.”
My first thought was that she could travel for short stints, like I do. A month in Europe, perhaps, or even two months in Africa. Then I keep reading her comment, and discovered that her boyfriend is ten years older than she is. He’s in a different stage of life: raising a toddler, perhaps working in a steady job, and thinking about his son’s future. This is not a good time for her boyfriend to travel…but it is the best time for her to explore the world.
Here’s the rest of Tasha’s comment:
“I want to travel while I’m young but at the same time I don’t want to lose my boyfriend and his son, or be someone that came into his life to walk out. My boyfriend is 31 so he’s pretty much done everything. I don’t think he understands that I haven’t lived that part of life yet. Should I travel for a year and basically break up with my boyfriend and his son?”
Should You Travel When Your Boyfriend or Husband Can’t?
If you read 5 Reasons to Take Your “Couples Vacation” After an Unexpected Breakup, you have a pretty good idea of what I’d tell a 21 year old girlfriend about traveling without her 31 year old boyfriend! But it doesn’t matter what I think, or if I’d travel without my boyfriend (or husband).
What matters most is that she: 1) listens to her intuition; and 2) realizes that the best, most right decisions are often the ones that are hardest.
Be silent and listen
If you’re searching for tips on how to decide if you should travel without him, your intuition has already spoken to you. The truth is that you already know what you want to do. You want to travel more than anything, but you’re scared you’ll lose your boyfriend or damage your marriage. If you’re married, you may be worried what people think or feel like you’re not a “good” wife.
That’s what I realized when I talked to a spiritual director about my desire to travel to India for my 50th birthday: I believed that “good” wives don’t travel alone without their husbands. That’s not true! Further, I love traveling alone because I’m more aware of the people, language, food, culture and everything around me. And this trip isn’t just a vacation (or even separate vacations for me and my husband!)…it’s a spiritual pilgrimage into the second half of my life. I’m halfway through this journey — probably more than halfway! And I need to travel. It’s how I grow closer to God, develop a deeper sense of the Holy Spirit’s guidance on my life, and see Jesus in different parts of the world.
It’s easier for me — a 50 year old married woman with an incredibly supportive, understanding husband — to travel without him. But “easier” doesn’t mean easy.
Know that the “most right” decisions are often the most difficult
I made the difficult decision to travel without my husband to Quebec City last summer. I went for two weeks, and felt guilty the whole time! We have two dogs but no kids; my husband wanted to stay home and paint the deck. He survived, the dogs survived, and the cat was still in one piece when I got home. The only person who suffered while I was traveling without him was me. I knew I’d regret not traveling, so I went to Quebec…but I didn’t allow myself to relax and enjoy myself. I wasn’t fully present on vacation. My mind was on what was happening back home.
Now that I’m back from vacation and planning a month-long pilgrimage to Nepal and India, I realize that I needed to travel without my husband and feel guilty the whole time. I had to learn the difference between making a difficult decision and living fully into it versus looking back in regret and guilt. My intuition told me that I should travel without my husband or I’d regret it…and my experience taught me that I have to jump into my decisions wholeheartedly and mindfully!
This means that if you decide you should travel without your husband or boyfriend, be conscious of any feelings of guilt or regret. You may have to fight them the whole time…but if you keep thinking about your boyfriend or husband back home while you’re traveling, your trip will be ruined. And you might as well have stayed home.
What would you regret more: traveling without your husband or boyfriend, or not traveling at all?
If you already know how much you’ll miss him, read How to Stop Feeling Homesick When You’re Traveling Alone.
In peace and passion,
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