Solo travel is on the rise. Google trend data shows that solo travel has increased by 761.15%, while Booking.com reveals that solo travel has nearly doubled since the pandemic. If you’re in a relationship, you might assume a solo vacay isn’t in the cards for you. After all, so many of us feel like we need to do almost everything with our partner, especially something as significant as taking time off from work and seeing the world. However, according to relationship experts, travelling solo might be exactly the thing you need to do in order to strengthen your relationship.
“There is a misconception that once you are in a relationship, you need to do all the big things with them, but I would actually argue the importance of doing some of the big things on your own or with people outside of your relationship,” says Hannah Guy, a licensed clinical social worker. “Our relationships are at their best when we as individuals are at our best.”
If you have a travel itch to visit a new city or country without your partner, here’s why that might be the best idea to help improve your love life.
You learn how to be self-sufficient
“The more we are able to be alone with ourselves and enjoy our own company, the more present we can be with another person,” says Sarah Melancon, a sociologist & clinical sexologist. “Travel can help a person deepen their relationship with themselves, which can ultimately help to deepen a relationship.”
Often travelling is an investment that pushes you outside of your comfort zone, and according to Guy, learning how to become comfortable outside of your comfort zone is what makes you stronger and more able to handle life when it gets challenging within your partnership and without.
“For example, let’s just say you have flight anxiety and your flight ends up being cancelled,” she says. “This is going to flare up your anxiety and you are the one that has to work through it. Your partner can’t come in and save you. I know we have been told it is super romantic but at the end of the day, healthy relationships aren’t developed out of one partner constantly saving the other. When you are able to regulate your anxiety about the flight being cancelled and then make arrangements for another flight, you are communicating to your body that you are able to come through and save yourself.”
You grow as a person
Exploring new places, cultures, and meeting new people are some of the wonderful benefits of travelling, which, Melancon says, not only helps you grow, but “this self-expansion helps one come back home to the relationship with a fresh perspective.” Your growth can further enhance your connection with your partner and might in turn inspire them to do the same.
Additionally, Guy says solo travelling is a great reminder that you will have a different life experience travelling alone than you would with a partner — which is a good thing.
“In my last relationship, I made the decision to do solo travelling in Scandinavia and ended up making lifelong friends,” Guy says. “I even travelled to Portugal earlier this year with a friend I made on that solo trip. I would have never had that opportunity if I travelled with my partner at the time. When we invest, truly invest in ourselves, it has that trickle-down effect. When you feel satisfied and fulfilled, your relationship will be more satisfying and fulfilling.”
You’ll appreciate your partner more
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. “When we see our partner regularly, especially if we live together, over time it can be easy to take them for granted, get annoyed with their weird habits, or feel less appreciation in the midst of day-to-day stresses — even if we deeply love and care for our partner,” Melancon says. “Yet when we get some space and distance from our partner, it can enhance our attraction and sense of desire.”
And as Guy puts it, you’ll likely realise all the things you appreciate about your partner that you would typically take for granted. “Let’s just say your partner makes you coffee every morning,” she says. “It’s easy to eventually just get used to this and to even expect it. When you’re on your own travelling, you will wake up and you will notice how there will be no coffee on your nightstand. It highlights the things that you’ve become used to, which will hopefully in turn increase your appreciation for your partner.”
You get to still follow your own dreams
Relationships require compromise, and sometimes that means putting off things you’ve always wanted to do. The opportunity to follow your dream of travelling solo without feeling limited by your partner is a wonderful gift you can give to each other, Melancon says. “What if you’ve always wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise, but your partner gets motion sickness? Should you say goodbye to the dream? Solo travel allows individuals to follow their own interests without requiring their partner to get on board,” she explains. “This can help us feel accepted and supported as we are.” And you won’t feel any resentment toward your partner either, which only bodes well for your connection.
It deepens trust
Solo travelling requires a deep level of trust between partners, Melancon says, which can strengthen the safety and security you share with one another. “Spending time alone can deepen trust, as we move apart and come back together, we get to see that our partner is still there for us,” she explains. “When partners can feel secure in spending time apart, whether for the afternoon, a weekend, or a longer vacation, they can feel more secure in their relationship more generally.”