I’m Married and I Travel Solo. And That’s Okay

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I’m Married and I Travel Solo. And That’s Okay

I’m a solo traveling married woman, why not?

The Valentine’s Day of 2016 is the fifth anniversary since I met my special someone. Last March 29th, right after our fourth anniversary, is when we got married. I still can’t believed it’s been almost a whole year since the wedding. How time flies when you’re having fun!

 

I’m writing this post while sitting on the couch of my friend in Hong Kong. My husband Stephen is back in Korea, working. That’s right. I boarded the flight alone. It might sound odd to some people. “Huh? What? You’re not traveling with your husband?” Wherever I go, people ask “Is your husband with you?” I’m sure Stephen is getting the same question. People looked at me like I have two heads. But this isn’t our first time traveling or staying apart. Even before we got married, we spent time apart time to time because of our travel restrictions as two different nationalities, or sometimes for work, or different commitments. Our office is the world, so it was quite usual to spend time apart. Things didn’t change much after we got married. Since last March, I traveled to Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Malaysia, and Hong Kong alone while Stephen was visiting Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Later this year, we’ll also be traveling separately. And you know what? That’s okay.

 

Me in Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Me in Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Visiting a Tea Estate in Srimongol, Bagladesh - photo by Stephen Bugno

Visiting a Tea Estate in Srimongol, Bagladesh – photo by Stephen Bugno

 

When Stephen was in Taiwan without me, one of his Taiwanese friend told him that our relationship was so special because it was an open relationship. Well, clearly he didn’t know that the expression ‘open relationship’ means something else in American culture. What he meant was, it was shocking to him that we could travel apart and be so far away from each other for so long and it didn’t seem to affect our relationship. I’ve heard that he was having a hard time with his own relationship with his longtime girlfriend. It’s quite common to face strains between relationships in Asia especially for women. Even though he was a man, our freedom in marriage rocked his world. Stephen explained to him that we could do what we do because we trust one another and we are committed to each other. We share same values, as individuals and couple, and we try to keep those intact. That’s a core of a strong relationship.

We were two separate people before we met. Just because we’re merging our lives together, we shouldn’t have to destroy what we had as individuals. Of course there was compromises and reorganizing priorities, but we are still who we are. A good marriage (I don’t know if I’m qualified to say this, since I’ve been married to less than a year, but oh well…) shouldn’t change what’s already there, but add more value. You shouldn’t NEED each other, but WANT to make a life together. I’ve learned that the hard way, and now I’m in a ‘open relationship (really, not in the way you think)’ with a great man.

In Roberto Barrios

In Roberto Barrios

 

 

But don’t get me wrong; we don’t try to spend time apart. It’s just another line in the job description. When it happens, we enjoy as much as we can. There are also undeniable merit to a solo travel.

  • Freedom. Even if you’re like two peas in a pod with your partner, traveling as two can create friction in many situations. But if you’re alone? The choice is all yours.
  • It’s way easier to meet people on the road as a solo traveler. It’s a simple mind trick. It’s harder to approach to a couple since they already have their own world. Solo travelers bond with each other way easier. That’s how I got to meet so many great friends.
  • Some time apart will make you appreciate more of your partner. Especially for couples like us, who work from home, we are always together. I wouldn’t want to change anything but you have to admit, we all need some ‘me time’. Spending a short time apart always reminds me what a great thing I have with my husband. The human mind is a tricky thing. We all have to lose something to know how valuable it is. Why is that?

Trust. That’s the key word. We trust one another, not just about relationship. I trust my husband won’t put himself in a dangerous situation. He’ll be responsible. He’ll meet great friends, and learn so many new things (and he’ll teach me). We’re in a committed relationship, and it’s an important factor in our relationship for both of us.

It’s a constant struggle to overlap our calendars together. But we’re making it work. So, if we have to travel apart, we will be okay.

 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

29 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    congrats on your anniversary Juno – It was my wife and mine yesterday! And I still travel solo a bit too. great post!

  2. I love this, Juno! It took me a long time to understand that I could travel solo while married. And for all thecreasons you mentioned, I discovered it was a very good thing.

    • Juno Kim says:

      It got me thinking a little while after we got married. I knew our relationship was different (in a good way) than my other Korean friends, and the different got even bigger after the wedding. I’m fortunate to have met a partner who shares the same vision, have a kind and generous heart! I can see that from your relationship too. 😉

  3. “You shouldn’t NEED each other, but WANT to make a life together.”

    THIS! 😀 Being single for too long, I’m struggling to fit in the “traditional” relationship set-up. I just hope I find someone who can be as open and at the same time trustworthy as Stephen so I can still do the things I’m used to and at the same time develop and maintain a good relationship with someone.

    • Juno Kim says:

      I was single for a long time too. I was never desperate to be with someone in any point of my life (with so many reasons). I didn’t ‘need’ anyone, but I ‘want’ed to be with Stephen. I think that’s the key. Loving someone is about excepting, not changing!

  4. Ali says:

    I totally agree with this, and I’ve definitely done my own solo traveling since getting married. But I think I’ve also really gotten used to traveling with Andy, so solo travel is a bit hard again. As an example, I’m used to him handling things like directions, so I’m constantly getting lost when I’m on my own. I just booked a solo trip in a few weeks to go to Cyprus for 8 days because it’s still so cold in Berlin, and I hate the cold. Andy doesn’t need to travel as much as I do, so he’s ok with me going off on my own from time to time to scratch that itch. So now I’m having to get used to solo travel again. Although we are still planning several trips we’ll take together for this year. Like you said, it’s all about the trust. And what you said about needing “me time” is so true! We’re both like that, love spending time together, but we need me time too.

    • Juno Kim says:

      Of course, having some ‘me time’ always makes me more appreciated of what I have. Human mind is tricky 🙂 I totally understand what you said; I’m bad at direction too! Stephen is the one with a map in his head. So I’m trying not to get lost, or using public transportation more when I’m alone. I wonder what he thinks when he’s traveling alone 🙂

  5. This is fantastic! I agree with so much that you wrote. My fiance and I are about to get married in 3 weeks. We both work from home so sometimes we just try to work at separate coffee shops! 🙂 Although we have no plans to travel separately at the moment, I totally agree that it’s about trust and commitment and could help strengthen your bond.

    Love this post! 🙂

    • Juno Kim says:

      Congratulations! We both work from home too. My husband goes out for a walk when I watch TV, I go out to meet a friend when he’s doing something else. It’s crucial 🙂 You just need some break if you are with anyone for 24/7, no matter who the person is. Good luck!

  6. Fanny F Nila says:

    Same happened to me. Many ppl will be confused when they know that I’m traveling without my husband or my kids. Particularly without the kids. And some of them often regard me as a very bad mommy. Whatever they think abt me, just trust me I don’t care at all 🙂 . for me, I also have right to have my me-time alone, to release my tension in my vacation, without being disturbed by any kid 😉

    • Juno Kim says:

      Anyone needs some ‘me time’. If you are a mom especially! I’m not a mom but I’m sure I want some ‘me time’ when I become one. 🙂 People say things without thinking too much, or just projecting what they are thinking. Don’t care too much about what people say. I’m sure having some break from your kids for a while, you will have more energy to take care your kids.

  7. LOVE this article so very much!

    I’m happily married (8 years and counting), yet I’m an avid solo traveler, too.
    I’m blessed that my husband does understand that marry me doesn’t me changing my travel habit! LOL

  8. Lexy says:

    This is so great! My husband and have been together for almost 13 years now and we always travel separately. We’ve done very few actual trips together. We just like different things when it comes to traveling and we both like to travel in very different ways. People think we are crazy to think this way but it’s what works for us and last I checked we weren’t married to any other people so…… People don’t understand that when you have two VERY independent people the best way you can show love to each other is not to crush or change them. Plus, my husband is U.S. Navy and he’s always gone. If I waited for him to be around long enough to actual go anywhere with me I’d never go anywhere and miss out on life. So, to all those out there who love to travel solo…… go and see the world and soak it all up. It’s there to be enjoyed and who cares if you are solo, sometimes it’s the best way to be.

    • Juno Kim says:

      Good on you Lexy! So true. Each couple has their own best ways to keep the relationship alive. What you said about traveling is very similar to our TV and movie taste. I enjoy watching comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, and all kinds of movies and TV shows, but Stephen has very specific taste. He loves hard drama, documentary, and other kinds that I don’t really enjoy. Yes, so sometimes we watch TV at the same time with two different laptops (sometimes!). 🙂 What can I say, we both don’t want to waste time to watch something we don’t enjoy!

  9. Cest La Vibe says:

    Really cool that you could do that! I know that I hate traveling without my girlfriend.

  10. Amy says:

    Nothing wrong with being married and still travelling solo. Me too, but I think it does take a very special relationship with very like minded people (and respect and understanding) for it to work – which means it’s not for every married couple! 😀

    Mind you though, the longer we have been married, the more I like to travel with the husband. We are both travellers after all!

    Happy anniversary by the way!

    • Juno Kim says:

      These ‘solo’ trips of mine were mostly for assignments. Every time, I was very much looking forward to see Stephen again after a long trip. I can see that our taste in certain things are changing as we gets older, but he is still my favorite travel companion.

  11. I didn’t know this about you Juno! Ha ha! I thought you were single! The best thing, I plan to live exactly your life if I marry someday. Keep doing everything you are going!

    -Maria Alexandra

    • Juno Kim says:

      Yeah it’s been one year (in two days)! 🙂 Cheers to your plan. You’re awesome – so anyone would be lucky to be with an amazing woman like you!

  12. […] married now. I’m fortunate to work in the industry that allows me to travel for work and have a husband who shares similar visions in life. I’m grateful for my family and my amazing in-laws. All the traveling over the years […]

  13. Wow What a understanding between you and your hubby, Even i love to travel alone just to meet new people on the way. Thanks as it was a wonderful story you shared.

    • Juno Kim says:

      Thanks Nirosha, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, we value each other’s experiences in life because we believe that’s what makes the relationship stronger! 🙂

  14. Rick Stevens says:

    I think it is 100% healthy to have individual interests, it keeps both sides happy.

  15. Jade D'sa says:

    I’m not married but I admire the relationship you have and your ability to be apart without letting it affect anything. It’s a rare thing indeed!

  16. Bina says:

    I’m in the unusual position of being married to someone who just isn’t in to travelling that much. He loves holidays but would not just drop his job and go backpacking around the world, whereas I would do it in a heartbeat. in 2014 I went away for 6 months around SE Asia, he came to join me for a few weeks and I did the rest on my own.

    I don’t want to drag him around places he doesn’t want to be, and he doesn’t want to clip my wings. So it’s all about compromise, and travelling solo is actually very liberating as you say. Really I’d advise anybody to try a solo trip at least once – married or not!

    • Juno Kim says:

      Thanks Bina! Yes, it’s not fun to brag someone around when they don’t want to be there. I think it’s a lot healthier to pursue each other’s hobbies and interests, rather than force two to do everything together. Good for you!

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