Solo travel for women who are married is a growing trend for many reasons.
“Although I love my husband dearly, traveling with a group of like-minded women my age is wonderful—the camaraderie and respect we have for each other is a huge positive.” Joni, aged 70, Longview, Texas
I remember going to Mount Rushmore on my first-ever group trip with Road Scholar. I was 72 years old and had been an inveterate solo traveler since my 20s. One of the married women in the group approached me while in a museum and said,
“You are married, right?”
I said yes. She then said,
“And your husband allowed you to travel without him?”
I was flummoxed. Never did I think I needed my husband’s permission to travel on my own. In fact, my husband told me that one reason he was initially attracted to me was because I was so independent.
When I returned from Mount Rushmore, I wrote an article for Road Scholar entitled “Eight Reasons Why I Travel Without My Husband.” Since then, I met many women – and there is a growing number of us – who love to set off alone, either on an independent journey or with a group.
Why Do Some Women Like to Travel Solo?
There are various reasons a woman might want to travel on her own. Perhaps her mate does not want to travel when she wants to go, how she wants to go, or even go at all.
Let’s face it: sometimes significant others just don’t seem to have the same love of travel as do their mates. And it’s fine with me that, while my husband and I share many interests, there are others, like going to baseball games, that leave me cold.
I find that traveling solo has been transformational for me. It recharges my spirit and inspires my life. Traveling alone has enabled me to meet new people and have new experiences. It has provided me with friends from all corners of the world.
While standing in line for a flight to London four years ago I met Lewanda, a 70-year-old woman from Pawleys Island, S.C. We have become travel buddies and good friends since then. In fact, we joined a small group of women on a trip to India a year ago with Cracking India Tours, a tour group run by Ann Marie, who also often travels without her husband.
“I feel most alive and in the moment when traveling alone. I’m more alert to and curious about my surroundings, and there are also more possibilities for serendipity.”
However, she says she was first inspired to travel by her husband.
“It was he who first showed me London and Paris. For a long time, I held an unconscious belief that I needed HIM to travel, HIM to plan a trip, HIM to pay my way, and HIM to make the plan and keep me safe.”
Now Lewanda travels solo with small groups, often along with her sister or her daughter. She does solo yoga retreats and even pet sits abroad. But she doesn’t always leave her husband behind. She recently took a Viking River trip through the Netherlands with him, which she loved. Travel does not have to be just one way.
The Numbers Show How We Travel Now
These days, older women are often more financially independent than were their mothers, and we simply travel more. In fact, we are a major part of the travel market.
According to the Solo Travel Report recently published by Road Scholar, we solos fit right in with a growing segment in the travel world.
In a survey of some 600 women over the age of 50 who traveled with Road Scholar in the past two years, more than a quarter felt that it was easier to meet new people and make friends when traveling alone. Many enjoyed choosing their travel destination and found solo travel “liberating and empowering.”
According to the study, 60 percent of all their solo travelers in 2022 were married, and 30 percent of married women have traveled alone with a group. In fact, 27 percent of married women never travel with their husbands on Road Scholar programs.
Last month I participated in Signature City Québec, a Road Scholar women-only walking trip, and our relatively small group of 17 women bonded easily and happily. It was a diverse group that included marrieds, never marrieds, divorcees, and widows. It was notable that more than one-third of our group were married and traveling solo.
Why Some Mates Do Not Want to Travel
“Another well-known Paris landmark is the Arc de Triomphe, a moving monument to the many brave women and men who have died trying to visit it.” Dave Barry, humorist
As difficult as it may be for travel fans to understand, some people just don’t feel the urge for going. Just a few weeks ago someone told me,
“Looking at a photo of the Taj Mahal is enough for my husband. He doesn’t need to go there.”
Travel is indeed more difficult these days. No one enjoys canceled flights, bad weather, crowds, potential illness, crazy traffic near major tourist sites, or political unrest. However, 40 years ago we did not have cell phones, the Internet, or Uber, which makes some parts of travel easier.
There are other reasons why significant others may not want to travel. They may prefer to spend their time and/or money in other ways. Or they may not have an interest in history or art or music. Maybe they are physically unable to travel or have work, family, or pet responsibilities. Perhaps they have no curiosity or simply like doing what they do at home. And they may not have the need to challenge themselves in the way that those of us who enjoy traveling do.
How Solo Travel for Women Can Help a Relationship
Husbands may have stellar qualities more important than being open to trekking in the Himalayan foothills. I especially appreciate that mine listens to my stories when I return. Travel makes me appreciate who and what I care about in my life back home, and I certainly experience how absence makes the heart grow fonder while away.
When I go off on my own, I am always in touch with my husband. I look forward to taking photographs to show him or to report an interesting or funny experience. We are always happy to see each other when I return.
Erica, a 47-year-old professional from New Castle, Delaware, has been a solo traveler for years and has taken ten trips without her husband. Her last trip was a journey to Madagascar, and her next was a bird-watching trek in Ecuador.
“I travel without my husband because he does not like to travel. He is very supportive, and we communicate often while I’m away. It’s a win-win situation.”
Talking About Solo Travel with Your Partner
Traveling solo does require a layer of trust. Timing also counts; I have a friend whose husband took off on bike trips, leaving her behind to care for young children. She is no longer married to him.
But perhaps older couples fare better with separate interests. Years of being together may add to a sense of trust and to the acceptance that people have different wants and needs.
Different Kinds of Solo Travel
Joni, whom I met last month on my trip to Québec, said,
“With my husband, I make the arrangements navigate through airports, and am responsible for all documents. When going solo with a group of women all arrangements are made for me – where we go, what we see, and where we eat. It is all wonderful, and it frees me up to just enjoy and learn.”
I agree with Joni. I really enjoy traveling with a small group of women who are in my cohort. And it is easy these days to meet travelers like me on Facebook groups like Women of Road Scholar, Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group, and Over 50 Women Travelers Community and Resource Sharing. We arrange meetups, share travel advice and information, and recount our own experiences and knowledge.
For me, it feels safer in today’s world to travel with others. I feel more open to meeting and getting to know like-minded people in a group. I also enjoy learning about my destination from guides who know more than I do.
One can feel the differences in a women’s group immediately. Although there are wide ranges in travel experience, geography, and interests, what we have in common is curiosity about the world, a sense of adventure, and a shared feeling of the joys of the new.
Time for Choice and Change
As my physical capabilities changed over the years, how I travel have, as well. For example, how much I walk and what kind of terrain I can manage, how much comfort I need and can afford in hotels, the rate at which I move through cities and countryside, and how far I’m willing to go to see things that interest me.
This past spring, I traveled to Wales with my husband, daughter, and son-in-law. In the spring I plan to travel with my husband to California to visit family and friends. Early next year I will travel to Costa Rica with someone I met on my trip to India last year. We will join a group of women from the Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group on the West Coast.
While I cherish travel with my family, I want to continue to travel with my inspiring cohort, as well.
As Kelsey Perri Knoedler, who came up with our wonderful trip to Québec for Road Scholar, put it,
“The similarities we share allow us to feel comfortable opening up, being ourselves, and sharing the talents, characteristics, and past experiences that make us all unique.”
Here are some commonly asked questions we hear related to married women traveling solo.
Is it safe for a married woman to travel alone?
Safety depends on various factors such as the destination, travel preparations, and individual circumstances. It’s essential to research the safety of the chosen location, stay informed, and take necessary precautions. We recommend traveling with an organized tour group. That way, though you are traveling solo, you are not alone.
What should a married woman communicate with her spouse before traveling alone?
Clear communication is crucial. Discuss travel plans, itinerary, emergency contacts, and means of communication. Agree on regular check-ins and establish a plan for handling unexpected situations.
How can a married woman overcome societal expectations or judgments about solo travel for women?
Focus on personal empowerment and the enriching experiences gained from solo travel. Educate others about the benefits and safety precautions taken. Ultimately, the decision to travel alone is a personal one.
Can solo travel enhance a married woman’s relationship?
Absolutely. Solo travel can lead to personal growth, independence, and a deeper understanding of oneself. These experiences can contribute positively to a marriage, fostering individual fulfillment and a stronger connection when reunited.
About the Author: Barbara Winard
Barbara began her solo travels in college, and during her 20s and 30s, solo traveled to Europe, Asia, and North and South America. After returning from a 6-month trip to Asia, she wandered off the street and was hired by the Asia Society in New York City to produce films and print materials for adults and children about Asian culture. She also worked as a film programmer and traveled to film festivals around the world. Barbara got her start in film with New York City’s public television station, WNET/13, and was a freelance documentary writer and producer for ten years. A Jersey girl, Barbara, and her husband moved from Jersey City to New Castle, Delaware, last year. She has been writing for Road Scholar, TravelAwaits.com, and several other online magazines; her blog is the Babyboomer. blog.