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The Solo Traveler Blog

34 Years Married: One woman’s solo travel survival strategy.

woman in small plane

Elizabeth in the seaplane for a tour of Vancouver harbor.

Married for 34 years, Elizabeth has two children and now one very new grandchild. She is based in Toronto and has a small business consulting firm called Small Office Mentors. Here is her very honest account of her solo travel survival strategy for long term marriage.


After 34 years of marriage, my husband and I have developed a keen sense of where the hot buttons are in each other and, when stressed, we can find them blindfolded.

I decided that I needed a break. A couple of breaks would be best, actually. My husband is semi-retired and has summers off, so he’s home all day, everyday. I wanted to go off for an adventure on my own and also asked if he could go for one at a separate time – to give me alone time in our home.

waterplane shot of Vancouver harbor

The seaplane experience starts in downtown Vancouver

Time away.
My guy took the news well and we negotiated dates around our schedules. He chose to go to Montreal for 2 weeks and stay in our son and his finances’ apartment, while they were away on their own holiday.

I choose to visit Vancouver and found a place on Craig’s List. It was a sweet bachelor apartment for only $250 per week. I made a long list of the things I planned to do, and did only a few of them. Reading in the yard took up more time than I’d ever imagined, so I didn’t get through my list. And, that was OK. I returned home feeling relaxed and quite peaceful.

A highlight of the trip was an Extended Panorama Tour I took on a Seaplane around Vancouver with Harbor Air.  We took off from the water in Vancouver Harbor and after we’d seen all there was to see of the city and surrounding islands, we went just above the clouds to see some magnificent mountain peaks with rivers of snow. I loved seeing the shadow of the plane on the soft clouds below.

Van Dusen gardens in Vancouver

Zimsculpt at VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver

Another special day was spent at VanDusen Botanical Gardens while Zimsculpt was on.  Sculptures from Zimbabwe were displayed in spots throughout the gardens and both were stunning. The carvers were working on new sculptures and had some for sale. It was interesting to chat with them about their work.

Time at home.
My time alone in my own home had a different rhythm to it. I was determined not to get engaged in “catching up” on things. I spent time doing things I don’t routinely do when my husband is around.

I called up a circle of women friends to drop by one Sunday afternoon for a potluck. It was delightful to spend hours with these wise women in my home, uninterrupted.

I piled my books high on his side of our bed. It felt wonderful to get into bed with popcorn and red wine and read for hours. I ate when I wanted to and went to a movie, alone. It was a treat to see Eat, Pray, Love – all by myself.

Before he left, my guy bought a hammock and hung it in the garden. What a wonderful gift for a woman with time on her hands. It’s been a refreshing break, and I look forward to spending time with him when he returns from his trip.

If you relate to this post, you might also like The Right to Travel Solo.

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  • Marya

    We are all so different. I was married for 42 years when my husband became involved with another woman. I have been divorced for 5 years and still cannot get used to traveling alone.

  • Steven Verdekel

    Take what’s yours, and then split to a non-western country where you could live admirably on a grand a month. Why live in poverty isn’t the point, why live MISERABLY, I believe, is more salient here.

  • Guest

    Why not then, just go on a solo trip? Permanently.

  • Troly

    I travel solo, being married 30 years to my no so -soul mate. I have found our interests,likes and wants very different. Why don’t we separate? Medical, Financal, Age. I don’t believe I’m alone in this. I would rather go alone than live in poverty.
    I would love to find Soul mate but traveling alone can make a not so great relationship tolerable.

  • http://www.explorerdad.com ExplorerDad

    Good post – everyone needs some independent time, both from partners and from children so not to get lost in the daily grind.

  • http://tinybackpacker.com Lena

    Oh, I so understand this! I had a long-distance relationship of 1,5 years and was completely happy about seeing my boyfriend 3-4 months a year (though when we did meet, we lived together and spent pretty much all the time in each other’s company).

    Now I’m about to leave on a 6-months solo trip and can’t tell you how much I am excited about it.

    Sometimes being alone is vitally important!

  • Michele Peterson

    Thanks for sharing your story of traveling solo but not single. I also travel solo and am married and in a 20 year long relationship. This winter, I’m headed off for 4 months – my longest trip yet – so it’s great to hear about other people’s experiences with being away but not apart.

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca ayngelina

    This is a really inspiring post. Alone time is really undervalued and misunderstood as not wanting to be in the relationship. I really like this idea.

  • http://solowomantraveler.blogspot.com Kelly

    I think the secret to any successful long term relationship is some time apart now and then. I’ve been married 8 years and I often go off on my own. Even when we travel together, we take some time for ourselves. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you must be attached at the hip!

  • http://www.urbantravelgirl.com UrbanTravelGirl

    Elizabeth, what a WONDERFUL and inspiring story! I’m not married or even coupled, but you and your husband are fortunate to both be self-sufficient and empathetic enough to give each other your own time and space. Should I EVER find my “other half,” he’ll have to be as understanding and flexible as your man!

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

I'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>

Tracey Nesbitt I’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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