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Why I travel to romantic places solo

Screw waiting for a man to take me to the dreamiest places on earth! Here’s why I think a woman’s relationship status should never dictate where she travels.

I travel near, far, alone and with others.  The tagline of this blog used to be “have money, will travel” and while it’s since been replaced, it’s a philosophy that remains one of my guiding principles when it comes to seeing the world.

My point is basically that I don’t discriminate when it comes to where I go; I’m an equal opportunity tourist. If ever my itchy feet and boundless passion for discovery had restrictions, they would be time and money– the pattern of my movements attributed namely to cost and convenience.

Travelling solo in Ethiopia last year

I tell you all this because I can honestly say that there are no other real factors dictating the places I visit. However, over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to people telling me that my gender should be a major consideration in when, where, and how I travel.

Here’s what I say to that:

But what I’m not accustomed to is the idea that the places I visit should be based on my relationship status.  When I announced a couple months ago that I was travelling to Venice on my own, some people were shocked that not only was I going by myself, but also that I would visit “such a romantic destination” without my husband. Erm, okay.

In Venice last month, posing in front of St. Mark’s Basilica

This wasn’t a one-off, either.  I’ve heard many a female acquaintance say that they wouldn’t travel to x destination without their significant other, even if they weren’t in anything even remotely resembling a relationship.

That’s fair, I guess, but I should note that I have never heard a man say this.

Look, I get it. The idea that some destinations are “made” for exploration with a lover is nothing new.  Places like Paris, Venice, and Buenos Aires inspire breathy sighs of longing and visions of meandering around narrow streets hand in hand with bae.

Some destinations, like the Maldives or Santorini, are almost wholly marketed as ideal getaways for the newly married, and others, like Casablanca or Seattle, have gotten their rep after being immortalized in popular romance films.

Trust me, this in and of itself isn’t an issue, nor is the desire to experience a destination in the company of the person with whom you are deep in love (or lust, ha). Because while I love travelling solo or with my friends, I also adore exploring the world with my man– we’ve ventured to nearly 60 countries together.

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With the hubs in Bolivia

However, I still think that striking Tulum or Tahiti from your bucket list JUST because you’re single (or because your partner isn’t willing or able to join) maaay be a bit hasty.  Here’s why.

Your Prince(ss) Charming may never come.

Saving that trip to Bora Bora for your honeymoon?  Girl…You may never go.  The harsh reality is that many people these days never get married or find a partner with whom they can travel to exotic lands far far away.  Are you willing to miss out on an amazing time in a dreamy locale because you’re not able to experience it à deux?!?

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At the whimsical Eiffel Tower… solo

You get false ideas about what travel to certain destinations should be like

It’s natural to hype up certain places and create unrealistic expectations.  After reading Eat, Pray, Love, for example, I was convinced Ubud (in Bali) was going to be the most amazing place ever.  But then I got there and… meh, I wasn’t really feeling it. *waits for the crowd to throw tomatoes*

The same goes for these so-called romantic destinations.  We get caught up in the hype and create false narratives of how mind-blowingly romantic they’ll be when we touch down with our darling.  We picture ourselves strolling along the Champs-Elysees with our fingers interlaced, canoodling over a cappuccino at an upscale cafe in St. Germain-des-Pres, or stealing kisses in front of the Eiffel Tower at night as it sparkles with the fire of 10,000 diamonds.

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But then… the rancid smell of the Paris metro in the summertime hits you in the face without warning (an interesting eau de cologne comprised of urine and body odor, in case you were wondering). Your partner gets pickpocketed in the streets of Montmartre as they watch unsuspecting tourists play the shell game. It rains cats and dogs all over your new white espadrilles the whole time you’re there.  Or for some other reason something is just “off” with the trip, and you’re left with enough disappointment to fill an entire football field. Womp womp womp!

My advice? Don’t get caught up in the single stories of places. Paris and Venice may be for lovers, but they’re also for foodies, art buffs, and those who love history.

We implicitly tell ourselves that we can’t enjoy certain cities on our own

I’ve been to romantic cities like Prague by myself and honestly?  I probably enjoyed myself more alone than if I had been accompanied by someone else (primarily because I’m low key antisocial, but I digress). My point? Us women are “whole” people– we don’t need a partner to “complete” us, and we certainly don’t need to wait for one to make a city, country, or monument worth discovering.

The role gender and power dynamics have to play

I have a theory, but I’m not sure whether I can properly articulate it, so bear with me. In Western, patriarchal societies, us women are told that we’re inherently emotional, sensitive beings who should aspire to being in romantic relationships. We’re the fairer sex, the damsels in distress needing to be saved; halves of a whole, 50% of a pair.

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Exploring Burano, a neighbouring island to Venice on my own. Used a tripod and self-timer for this shot!

Too much independence is frowned upon and we’re conditioned to want and think we need companionship far more than men.  This trickles down into every aspect of our being– heck, we don’t even go to the bathroom without a buddy– which is why far fewer women travel solo than their male counterparts (and why when we do we are often bombarded with condescending questions and even suspicion as to why we would do such a thing).

Since we’re also instructed that a serious relationship is the nexus of a woman’s existence, and that many experiences, like travel, are better within the context of said relationship, travelling to a so-called romantic destination without a mate is not something we’re likely to do, BECAUSE OMG WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A RIDICULOUS AND CRAZY THING?!

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But compare this mindset with that of our male counterparts. When have you ever really heard a man say he wouldn’t travel to Bali, Bruges, or Bora Bora without his main squeeze?  That he was saving a trip to the Maldives or Marrakech for his honeymoon?  Not I! However, at least in my experience, the inverse continues to ring true.

Of course, I could be way off (it happens often, heh), but that’s the way I see things.

Should you wait?

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t travel with your significant other.  Baecations are amazing and can take a trip from good to great!

The idea, however, that you can’t have a great time in, say, the Maldives without a boo thang might be shortsighted.  After all, you rock! Your own company is amazing! You are enough!

Give yourself credit and have faith that you will have a good time without beau or bae.

Personally, I live my life according to two basic principles: carpe diem and… yolo.  I learned long ago not to wait on people to do, see, and experience the things that fulfill me.  For– and this is a tad dark– the unfortunate reality is that some of us will die waiting for the right person or the right time.

And guess what? Even when we find that person, we still may need to wait for their dreams, desires, schedule, and finances to align with our own. Are we willing to take that risk?

Black girl magic-ing in Venice

My advice: take back some agency and book that ticket to that romantic locale. Why allow something as inconsequential as your relationship status keep you from seeing certain places in the world?

You won’t regret it. I’ve always dreamed of going to Venice, but hubby had absolutely no interest because he finds it corny, overly-touristy, and not worth going visiting.  My reaction: I booked a ticket, headed there solo, and had the best time. I explored at my own leisure, ate at the finest restaurants, took up both sides of the bed. It was thus not only a great trip of adventure and discovery, but one of self care.

What do you think about travelling to romantic places solo? Is it something you’ve done or would consider doing?

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Why I travel to Romantic Places Solo

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Krystal Wright
    July 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Amen to this! That you for encouraging women to get out on their own! I personally have more fun travelling alone so that I can play each day by ear. <3 <3 <3

  • Reply
    Nina
    July 6, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    You’re always so on point!! I generally have no problem traveling solo, but am in a bit of a dilemma right now: My bf is not that into travel and usually has to be convinced to go somewhere though he will absolutely love it once we’re there. We’ve been talking about going to Budapest for a while now, and I want to go this fall. However, we’re leaving for our third trip this year on Saturday, and he’s not in the mood to go anywhere else for the rest of the year. Buuuut, he really wants to go to Budapest with me, and doesn’t want me to go alone, lol! I would feel selfish if I go alone anyways or talk him into yet another trip this year, but I’d also feel weak if I waited for him to want to go. Sometimes it becomes so complicated. 🙂

  • Reply
    Victoria @The British Berliner
    July 7, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Sure! Hear Hear!

    My husband isn’t really a travel person, and will eventually go places if I organise it, but left to his ownsome, Italy and Germany, are just fine!

    I’ve been to Paris a million times. And not once, have I been there with my husband! ‘Same goes with Rome! Ditto Vienna. The first time I went to Vienna, I left everybody at home! I only recently took my husband to the historical city ‘cos it was his significant birthday!

    So go for it ladies. If you love the destination, book transport and just do it! 😀

  • Reply
    Tausha at The Globe Getter
    July 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    “I learned long ago not to wait on people to do, see, and experience the things that fulfill me.” <– THIS! Also, I feel you on being low key antisocial (maybe not even low key?). Great post!

  • Reply
    jo Ann Lawery
    July 10, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    FACTS!!!! I have been traveling solo for more years than I can remember and I’m 64 years old now.i travel by myself because if I waited for someone to go with me, I’d never go anywhere. My motto is staying home is NOT an option ! Your blog as usual is right on!

  • Reply
    Jill at Reading the Book
    July 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Oh wow, this is definitely how I feel! I’m in my 40s, single and happy with it, and I’m certainly not going to miss out on dream locations waiting for a bus that may never show. Those “romantic” spots are perfect for self love as well!!

  • Reply
    Jade D'sa
    July 21, 2017 at 5:27 am

    ON POINT!! Couldn’t have worded this any better! I’ve have never heard men wait for a significant other in order to travel. Why should women? And life’s too short to wait for someone who may or may not arrive so we can experience it together!

  • Reply
    Bukky A
    August 7, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Love this post. Very encouraging

  • Reply
    Tinie Solomon
    August 18, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Love your post!

  • Reply
    Caroline Middlebrook
    August 19, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    I absolutely agree! I’ve been in a relationship for 8 years but my partner not only doesn’t like travel, but we differ so much that we just end up arguing when we go places together! I honestly prefer going alone, though I do get lonely sometimes.

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