Interview: “I’m Married and I Still Travel Solo. Here’s Why.”
Busting untrue myths and stereotypes about female solo travelers (FSTs) is core to the mission here at SheGoes, which is to inspire, empower, and equip more women to travel alone.
I find that the most powerful way to do this is to share stories of women from all different circumstances and backgrounds who travel solo. This method works in two ways:
You may learn about a woman whose story you really identify with. If she can travel alone, why not you?
You can learn about the extraordinary diversity of FSTs worldwide. If women from all these varied backgrounds and unique situations can travel alone, why not you?
So the myth that we're busting today is that women can't or don't travel solo once they're married, or in an otherwise committed relationship.
In order to break down this untrue misconception, I interviewed Ashley of @ohdarlingletsseetheworld. She's a bright and bubbly Michigan native with two qualities many people incorrectly assume don't go together: She's an avid solo traveler, and she's happily married to her husband of almost five years!
Read on to find out why she still travels solo now that she's married, and her travel advice for other women in committed relationships.
Ashley's travels since she said "I do"
If you take a peek at Ashley's Instagram, you might be able to guess which destination she chose for her first solo trip as a married woman. It was a long weekend at Disney World—and it also happened to be her first solo trip ever! "It was a place I really wanted to go, and a place he [my husband] really didn't want to go," Ashley says, "so this was a perfect solo trip!"
Although her solo travels are special and important to her, she travels with her husband Dan several times a year, too. "It's such a great feeling traveling with your life partner!" she tells me. Ashley recognizes that there are different styles of travel, each of which offer a totally different experience. "I enjoy all types of travel: traveling solo, traveling with the girls, and traveling with Dan," she shares. "There's different aspects you can enjoy with these different types of trips."
Her husband's take on her solo travels
I asked Ashley how her husband reacted the first time she told him she was going to take a solo trip. She laughed, and said that he told her, "HAVE FUN!!" Ashley says he understands that her job as a psychiatric nurse is highly stressful, and that it's important for her to take time for herself regularly. "Dan has always been supportive of me getting my "me" time," shares Ashley, "and the way I do that is by traveling!”
So when she does travel alone, Ashley takes care to preserve and enjoy her solitude and the chance to recharge. Besides keeping herself safe—not venturing out much after dark, and enjoying alcohol sparingly—the couple doesn’t have set rules for Ashley's solo travels besides keeping in touch. "Dan and I will always talk everyday [when I'm traveling alone], but not to the point where it's interfering with my travel." She savors the power to design her trips however she likes and soak up all the alone time, and her husband respects this.
The three reasons Ashley still travels solo as a married woman
Ashley tells me she gets this question a lot! When I asked her, she shared three main motivations for still taking solo trips now that she’s married:
Self care. Ashley's career as a psychiatric nurse is one factor that motivates her to travel alone. "I have a very high-stress and demanding job where I'm constantly serving other people," she explains. Because she's "always taking care of everyone else, doing things that just I want to do is critical to maintaining a healthy life balance." It’s an idea I love to promote here at SheGoes, too. Solo travel can be a form of self care—spread the word!
Alone time. Ashley identifies as an introvert, and anyone else who does can understand her need for regular alone time to re-energize and recharge. "I sincerely value my time alone," Ashley shares. That’s another FST stereotype busted: You don’t have to be an extrovert to travel solo!
Independence. Ashley recognizes increased personal independence as a valuable reward of traveling alone. She explains that making all the decisions on a solo trip is one way she likes to assert this independence. "I believe women should never [...] have others dictate what they get to experience," she says. This type of empowerment is another benefit of solo travel I love to talk about, and Ashley has articulated it beautifully!
"I believe women should never [...] have others dictate what they get to experience."
Ashley's advice on solo travel for other married or committed women
When I asked Ashley if she recommends solo travel for other married or committed women, she explained that it depends on the strength of the relationship. "Trust and communication need to be top notch when deciding to travel alone [as a woman in a marriage or committed relationship]. It's definitely a topic that needs to be discussed in depth between the couple before any decisions are made," she advises.
Whether it's solo travel or something else, Ashley also stresses how important it is for anyone in a relationship to not neglect their own mental health. "I believe it's so important that you always remain true to yourself, and ALWAYS do some things in life that are just for YOU. To maintain a healthy mental state, you need to take care of yourself and treat yourself!"
"...it's so important that you always remain true to yourself, and ALWAYS do some things in life that are just for YOU."
Ashley's Instagram account encourages women to explore the world. She and her husband Dan live in Michigan, but travel often—both together and her solo. Their next trip together is to Portugal, Morocco, Tanzania and South Africa. Her next trip alone is to Bali.