I recently embarked on my first solo backpacking stint around Europe, while my boyfriend stayed at home.
It was the best decision that I ever made for myself and, inadvertently, for our relationship.
While staying at hostels, I met a lot of travelers from all walks of life.
I could always rely on the same reaction whenever I casually slipped the topic of my boyfriend into the conversation.
"Oh, your boyfriend isn’t here with you? Why not?"
I would then mutter some reason about him not having enough annual leave.
"And he’s OK with you traveling solo?"
I always felt a little indignant when this question was posed because it implied that I was expected to submit to my partner and his demands, and that a woman in a relationship shouldn’t be traveling alone.
There are scores of single solo females traversing across the globe who — rightly so — are applauded for their independence and adventurous spirit.
But as a solo traveler in a relationship, I felt that people were suspicious of my intentions.
People thought there had to be an underlying reason for me to leave my significant other behind, or that our relationship was just a casual affair.
The fact is that the decision to travel solo had nothing to do with my boyfriend and everything to do with me; it was the clichéd journey of self-rediscovery.
I soon found that I loved traveling solo, and I didn’t think that my being in a relationship should prevent me from doing so.
Here are reasons why every woman in a relationship should bite the bullet and consider traveling solo:
1. You can indulge in "me" time.
Compromise is integral to any healthy relationship, but when you’re on your own, you have the complete freedom to make it all about you.
You can do whatever you want at any time you want without having to consider your significant other’s feelings.
It can be extremely liberating to simply be in the pleasure of your own company.
It's something you may not have a lot of when you’re in a long-term relationship, and solo travel is the perfect time to reflect and recharge without distraction.
Every day is yours to conquer.
Whether you want to whittle the hours away at an independent art gallery, a shopping mall or even snoozing in your hostel bed, no explanation or justification is required.
You’ll also meet a new group of people.
While it’s fun — and significantly more comfortable — to stay in an Airbnb accommodation or flashy hotels when traveling with your partner, you'll often miss out on the social aspect of meeting new people if you were to stay in a hostel.
When you travel with others, there’s a sign permanently flashing in your head that says, "Company quota filled!"
As a solo traveler, you’ll find yourself much more open to approaching and getting to know other people, most of whom you’ll likely meet in your hostel common room.
There’s possibly nothing more invigorating than sharing fascinating travel stories in a foreign city with strangers-turned-friends from all corners of the globe.
2. You’ll realize you're OK being alone.
After being in an established relationship, you can begin to forget what it is truly like to be on your own with no one else to depend on.
Habit creeps in, and you become reliant on having your significant other there.
You have your partner in crime, knight in shining armor and shoulder to cry on all bundled into one neat, good-looking package.
When you can come to the realization that you are essentially OK being "alone," it can be a defining moment in your relationship because it shows that you want to be with your partner, but you don’t need to be with him or her.
This distinction between desire and necessity is crucial within the context of any healthy, committed relationship.
3. You’ll realize you're more adept than you give yourself credit for.
You don’t realize how much you can rely on someone just because he or she happens to be there.
For example, I am directionally challenged, so I always left the logistics side of things to my partner.
I also have zilch upper body strength, so it was up to my partner to pick up heavy bags and open pasta jars.
Imagine my surprise — and everyone else’s, for that matter — when I was able to navigate Europe all on my lonesome and manage to get back in one piece and on schedule. (Thank you, Google Maps!)
I did this all while lugging around a huge backpack that dwarfed my dwarf-like body.
I honestly felt like I was Wonder Woman.
The point is, it can be easy to fall into the trap of downplaying your own skills and letting someone else do the work, but it’s important to recognize your capabilities as an independent woman.
4. You can enjoy travel without the random hookups.
When you’re single and traveling, it can be thrilling to have random hookups with other travelers, and going out in the evenings was a lot like going out on the prowl.
There’s no denying it’s a lot of fun, but it could also be a tad superficial after a while.
You come to learn that hookups will amount to nothing more than casual flings you'll forget by the time you reach the next city.
When you’re in a relationship and traveling, you have conversations with people because you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
There’s no ulterior motive or hidden agenda because you’re not concerned with getting drunk and potentially hooking up later in the night.
It can be quite refreshing simply taking pleasure in other people’s company.
5. Your relationship will become stronger as a result.
Survive this, and your relationship can survive anything.
Letting your significant other travel solo is the ultimate test of trust and love.
The biggest concern for most people is that traveling solo will allow infidelity to happen.
Let me say this upfront: If there were ever going to be a prime time for someone to cheat, it would be while solo traveling.
There are no witnesses and plenty of options.
When these factors are mixed with the excitement of travel, they can add up to a dangerous concoction of recklessness.
It is naïve to believe you won’t ever be physically or mentally attracted to other people outside of your relationship, but what it comes down to is differentiating between a harmless crush and real love.
While solo traveling, I developed "travel crushes" because, let’s face it: People become so much more interesting when you're on the road.
When you're free from the monotony and stresses of everyday life, everything becomes more exciting.
But I also knew I would never do anything to hurt my partner or damage our relationship.
If you’re committing infidelity at the first sign of temptation, then you really need to wonder how solid the foundation of your relationship is in the first place.
Trust is pivotal, and traveling solo can be a wonderful way to cement this in your relationship.
6. There will be someone waiting for you once you come home.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and in my opinion, it's the best reason yet.
Having someone waiting at the airport for you on your return — ready with a warm hug and kisses — is pretty special, don’t you think?