There’s been quite the uproar within the travel community over the past week, due to the tragic death of an American solo female traveler in Turkey, and the surprisingly harsh comments people expressed about her choice to travel solo.

Women should not travel alone, ever.”
Her husband was irresponsible to allow her to leave for a foreign land by herself.

Naturally, travel bloggers and solo travelers around the world were insulted by these reactions, with reason – what is this, 1950? Do women need a written authorization from their husband to leave the house?

It goes without saying that travel does have its fair amount of risks – but the truth is, tragedies can happen abroad, or right out your front door. Nobody can predict them. That’s the very nature of a tragedy. It doesn’t pick wisely, nor is it ever planned.

I, for one, felt very strongly towards this woman. Not just because she chose to travel solo – but because she was married, and decided to go solo anyway.

As a solo female traveler, I’m all too aware of the precautions I have to take to stay safe – don’t walk in dimly lit street alone at night, don’t talk to weird strangers, don’t showcase your expensive photo equipment. Common sense, or the usual “city smarts”, as I call them.

Knock on wood, nothing bad has happened to me. But it might. I know that. Again  – tragedy doesn’t plan in advance. Anything could happen, both abroad and right at home. With or without my husband.

And as a married women traveling solo, I get all sorts of questions, stares and snorts.

Are you and your husband separated?”
Do you have one of these modern open relationships?”
Trouble in paradise?”

married women traveling solo

And every time I reply that I’m happily married, I have to explain why I chose to travel solo, when I technically should stay at home with my husband, be joined at the hip, be sickly lovey-dovey. But that’s not who I am. I was never that person. And neither is he. We are two independent persons, we each need our own “me” time every once in a while. We complement each other, but we are not extensions of each other.

His “me” time is spent playing video games or reading about Japan. My “me” time is spent in planes, trains and historic European squares. Since he doesn’t nearly enjoy traveling as much as I do…  I knew I had a choice to make:

Do I stay at home with him, or do I travel solo?

I learned very quickly that life is too short to wait for people to do the things you want them to do.

And that doesn’t make me a bad wife. That doesn’t mean my marriage is not successful. If anything,  I love my husband even more now that we are not together 24/7. I love to miss him, and I love to look forward to seeing him, and have him pick me up from the airport and take me to a nice restaurant whenever I get back. I love to talk to him about my travels, even though I know, in the back of my mind, that he’s not really listening my enthusiastic verbal diarrhea, nor will he remember anything I said – he’s just happy to see me.

Of course, I won’t lie and say I didn’t need a few adjustments.

married women traveling solo

I had to perfect my skills in the auto-portrait department.
I had to get used to not have anyone to talk to in the morning.
I had to get strong enough to carry my suitcase around by myself (never underestimate the value of a husband for that).
I had to get used to the funny looks I get whenever I ask for a table for one at the restaurant. But I don’t mind – my smartphone is a very good companion.

And that’s what travel is to me. A choice. Even though we do travel together every once in a while, the rule of thumb in the house is to book a single ticket in my name. And it’s really, really ok.

I hated traveling solo with every fiber of my being the first few times I tried it. I didn’t see the point. But several years after, I have come to piece with this lifestyle, and everything it means. I even came around to appreciate it for what it is.

I chose to go solo. And I don’t regret this choice one bit.

Are you a frequent solo traveler? Are you also a married women traveling solo? How do you deal with solo travel?


  1. Comment by Vera

    Vera Reply February 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I completely back you up on this one – I really don’t get what the fuzz is about, what with women travelling solo. And I don’t get why your marriage must be on the rocks because you pursue different interests. I think it would probably more likely to be on the rocks if you didn’t. It’s great of you to share this, though – and inspire others, who might have thought they “can’t do that”. Turns out that the world is so much bigger than all the opinions we have made up about it – there is room for all kinds of arrangements, and it’s wonderful! I’ve travelled alone (now I’m in a partner-ship and we travel together) and it had its advantages and its disadvantages, as does the travelling together. I’ve always felt comfortable alone, maybe because I had a few excellent role models regarding that when I grew up, and I wish more women would just take the self-confidence that society’s rules seem to refuse to grant them – because it’s yours, anyway, girls:) So I see your post as a stepping stone for others towards that – for a lot of happy female solo travellers to come.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 13, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks Vera! I am woman, hear me roar, haha. Like you said, there is room for all kinds of people in this world, including solo female.

  2. Comment by Rebecca

    Rebecca Reply February 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Yes! My husband and I are on solo trips as we speak. And fielding questions is the hardest part for me. You end up having to explain the ins and outs of your relationship to the most random people. People automatically assume you’re on the fast track to divorce!

    I like to explain that we live in such close quarters (and have for years), that solo travel is an opportunity for us to have our own adventures and come back with new stories to tell each other.

    I know that I have sacrificed a lot of myself, and this is a chance for me to replenish my well of patience and energy and fondness. To just reconnect with me, and not having to put the royal ‘we’ before ‘me’.

    It’s wonderful to know there are others out there like me. Thanks so much for writing this, Marie-Eve :)

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one in this situation, and not on the verge of divorce either ;)

  3. Comment by Solonomore

    Solonomore Reply February 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    There is a problem with the relationship when couple decide to solo it. People need to ask why bother marrying if you intend to be independent. For that matter, why post this soloism on a social media? To be social, of course. Hahaha, ironic.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Since when does traveling solo means being antisocial?

  4. Comment by Stef

    Stef Reply February 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Thanks for the article. I am not married or in a relationship right now, but I still agree with what you´ve said :-) I travel regularly with friends but I also like to travel alone. Sometimes it just makes things easier, you don´t have to compromise when it comes to things like what restaurant to eat at or what museum to visit. And if I spontaniously want to travel somewhere, I´ll just go by myself. No problem ;)
    Happy Travels to all the girls!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      I’m glad you could relate. I can now say that I enjoy traveling alone, but it’s taken a while. And I love to travel with my friends or husband too, but the idea of leaving by myself doesn’t scare me as much as it used to. Like you said, so much liberty!

  5. Comment by Laura

    Laura Reply February 13, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Oh, some people can be so mean and narrow minded! It’s nobody’s business why a woman would decide to travel solo. And regarding Solonomore’s comment, wouldn’t it be sad to drag the other person around the world even if he/she doesn’t really enjoy traveling? I am lucky to have a husband who enjoys traveling just as much as I do, and most of the time we travel together, but the few times I went solo I just discovered a different part of myself, for example more inclined to talking to strangers (the nice ones, of course!). There’s a lot of good stuff in solo travel, one just needs to be cautious, but that goes for traveling in two as well.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      You wouldn’t believe the comments I get about my marriage! Some people are so 1950!

  6. Comment by Jennifer

    Jennifer Reply February 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I’m also happily married and travel part of my time solo. I do it because my husband can’t take off work and go as much as I would like to or have assignments for. We love traveling together, but we’re also building our blog into a business. So if going solo now means we’ll be able to travel more frequently together later on, it’s a sacrifice we make.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Glad you can relate to my situation, and encourage solo female travel too!

  7. Comment by Sandra

    Sandra Reply February 14, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Well, this is very enlighting.. My common-law partner is not a friend of travel either. When we travel together we do in large groups: friends of ours with their two daughters and our own.. We have been once together in Jamaica. Wasn’t too bad, but it was a resort type of vacations. What I like is european cities… I believe I may end up travelling by myself – however I would love a companion… I do travel a lot for work by myself and getting used to it.. Maybe my next vacations travel..

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

      It’s always better to travel by yourself than not travel at all. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! It’s different and requires some adjustments, yes, but it’s still very much worth it in the end.

  8. Comment by Laurel

    Laurel Reply February 14, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Completely agree. I am also happily married but frequently travel without my husband for the same reasons – mainly my schedule is much more flexible than his. I can take off on a couple of days notice where he can’t.

    I think having time apart is actually enriching to a marriage. I also do trips with girlfriends and of course travel with my husband as well. It’s silly not to travel if you want to just because your husband can’t go with you. Kudos to you for doing it and encouraging other women to do so as well.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

      I think so too, Laurel. Being apart makes me fonder of him, and appreciate the time we spend together instead of taking him for granted. I’m glad you can relate :-)

  9. Comment by Alouise

    Alouise Reply February 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I’ve never really thought much about what it must be like for a married woman to travel alone – I can only imagine how frustrating those negative comments about your relationship must be. It’s great to see that you still choose to travel, even if that means your husband won’t being joining you. It sounds like you two have a pretty great relationship.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Thanks Louise! It gets pretty daunting to always defend my relationship whenever I travel. I got used to it though – I guess it’s part of the deal. People will keep having preconceived ideas!

  10. Comment by Jade Johnston -

    Jade Johnston - Reply February 15, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Luckily my husband loves travel as much as I do, although I sometimes travel solo for press trips or other committments. His job isnt as flexible so he can’t always get time off. But at least I know he is thoroughly jealous of me for it :)

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

      That’s often the problem – one half of the couple doesn’t have a flexible job. That’s part of why I decided to go solo too!

  11. Comment by Eartha

    Eartha Reply February 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Aww OMG I love this post. Not only because you support the #WeGoSolo movement, but because of how independent you are… I love that you’re the type of couple that isn’t joined at the hip, and that the two of you are both cool about doing your own thing. I totally dig that kind of relationship, and think that that’s the way it should be. (And I love your photo of the Cliffs of Moher… my fave bit of Ireland!)
    You have inspired me, Marie. Thank you! :)

  12. Comment by jill

    jill Reply February 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Amen, sister. Jack can’t travel as much as he’d like so I often go by myself (I’m a freelancer, I have a much more flexible time). I think I much prefer traveling together, but given the option of traveling solo vs not traveling, I chose the former.

  13. Comment by Kelly @TravelOptimist

    Kelly @TravelOptimist Reply February 15, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Yup, my hubby got the same comments from his co-workers the first time I took off on my own: “are you guys getting a divorce?” “I could never trust my wife…” “I would never allow my wife….”

    Really? Have I turned into a dog on a leash that needs to be allowed out to poop?

    My hubby just doesn’t travel well. He gets stressed and air sick. We do have family vacations, but I usually go and do the things I want to do freely, by myself. And it’s not about him “allowing” me to go and live my dreams (what kind of a husband crushes his wife’s dreams?!) anymore than I “allow” him time to go and do what he wants to do.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      The word “allow” irks me in SO many ways! I would never tolerate it if my husband would ever mention that word. Marriage does not mean a spouse can become a property! And I won’t even get into the trust issues too… so glad you can relate to this! :)

    • Comment by LR

      LR Reply January 9, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Good comment because there are some men who have trust issues with women traveling alone and being independent because they still see women as property. And many men want to feel loved by their spouse all the time that they often ruin their dreams. I know yours doesn’t do that but mine does.

  14. Comment by Cheryl Howard

    Cheryl Howard Reply February 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    You really get all those questions? :(

    Like said above, people are narrow minded and can’t seem to find to make sense of it in their heads except to assume you have problems.

    I hope you keep travelling together and solo, whatever makes you happy. :)

    Very inspiring post btw.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      You’d be surprised to hear all the very personal and weird questions I get asked, Cheryl! People can be both narrow-minded and very silly sometimes.

  15. Comment by Jennifer

    Jennifer Reply February 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Excellent article. Si jamais tu as envie, je le publierais bien traduit sur MMS, car il représente un bon véhicule pour changer les moeurs!

  16. Comment by Susan (@VibrantTravels)

    Susan (@VibrantTravels) Reply February 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Marie, I really enjoyed your article. It is nice to know there are other happily married women out there travelling solo. My hubby & I travel really well together, but his job means he can’t get much time off. When I suffered an injury & had 2 years of crippling pain, after it finally eased I figured I better get out and see/do things while I still could. I mainly do short trips several times a year- which also wouldn’t be possible if we had to pay for 2 of us!
    This is my 2nd year of travelling solo while married ( but I did solo travel yrs ago too) and I love it, though I do limit myself to places he doesn’t overly care to go to–I want to visit places like Budapest & Venice when he can go, as well! Tis wonderful to have a supportive partner who is happy for you & has no issues with being an early morning/ late night airport taxi ;-)
    Happy travelling!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks Susan! I’m sort of in the same situation as you. Happy to see that it works for other people too!

  17. Comment by Molly

    Molly Reply February 23, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I so agree, and why anyone would focus on that aspect, rather than the circumstances surrounding the incidents, etc. is beyond me. But I understand how insolated folks get in the U.S., and how stuck in their ways/thinking that they can’t look an inch over their own noses so to speak. Sad but true and I don’t really fault anyone, just think it will change slowly over time as adventurous gals like many who commented here (married or single) keep blazing new paths.

    Personally – some women chose to travel solo – I would love to travel with a partner, but that situation hasn’t been in the stars for me as of yet – though my son who I’ve traveled with/lived abroad with for over nine years (now live back in the states at the moment) has been an amazing travel buddy, couldn’t ask for a bigger blessing. Cheers, Molly

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply February 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Indeed, we need more adventurous gals to show these close-minded people that travel isn’t the problem!

  18. Comment by Barffie

    Barffie Reply February 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I was always the one with the wanderlust and the one dragging the husband to get out of the country. But this year I decided to run off on my own for a while and he is totally cool with it. I just wanted to reconnect with myself after all these years of being happily married and spending so much time together with him as a couple. We are still very much in love, but I need to take off for a while and I’m pretty sure I’ll miss him lots. People also react with surprise and doubt but we know better than to explain ourselves needlessly.

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply March 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Good point. There’s no point in explaining our modern POV to these people!

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  20. Comment by Nelka

    Nelka Reply July 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    My goodness! I though I am the only one in the whole world like that… I traveled to many countries without hubby… Japan, China, Venezuela…. The most difficult are questions, especially from other couples. You have to always explain that you are fine, just different in hobbies. Nobody believes that you are fine. My hubby is just a resort person, does not like active travelling, I am the opposite…

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply August 6, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Exactly. As if being solo was a problem as such. Do WE ask them questions about why they travel together?

  21. Comment by BakoymaTravels

    BakoymaTravels Reply September 30, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I find it so inspiring and comforting to know it’s possible to be in a relationship with someone, but at the same time having the “me” time up to the point where one can travel alone.

    A cumbersome way of saying it, but the point it, I had nearly given up on this, thinking I was weird for wanting it.

    Seems all I have to do is find someone who fits me as well as your hubbie fits you :-) Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply October 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Precisely :-) Getting married really does not mean becoming one, at least not according to me. Happy travels! :)

  22. Comment by Stacey

    Stacey Reply October 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I am getting married in less than two months. In the past year I have went through a lot of change and tragedy. With the stress of this wedding planning and the grief of loosing my father, all I dream about is escaping to Wales for a week alone. I have loved eh country since a young girl and I have yet to to. But my fiancé just doesn’t understand why I would want to travel there alone. I don’t quite know how to explain this desire to him so that he will accept it. I just want me time in a place where I’ve always dreamt of seeing. To do what I want to do and to just relax. I know this is an older post but if anyone has suggestions on helping me explain this to my future husband I will take it. Happy travels!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply October 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Just do what feels right for yourself, Stacey! In the end it’s all that matters.

    • Comment by LR

      LR Reply January 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Does he trust you? There are men who don’t trust women to work and/or travel alone abroad because women who do that are more likely to cheat with local men and local men are so desperate that they will throw themselves at married women who work and/or travel alone abroad and snatch them away, especially in countries in which there are a lot of men, due to massive violence against women, such as aborting infant girls and murder, for instance. Some dads say that the wife who travels is the most likely to be unfaithful which is true. It’s easy for women to be unfaithful if they are well-traveled and well-cultured that they have higher divorced and/or domestic violence rates compared to men in the same manner.

  23. Comment by Chimel

    Chimel Reply June 17, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Il est important de séparer la morale de la sécurité élémentaire. C’est une chose de ne pas vouloir le jugement d’un inconnu dans ses histoires de couple mais tout voyageur et à plus forte raison une femme se déplaçant seule devrait prendre l’habitude de mentir à ce propos. Un ami va venir vous rejoindre vous vous êtes séparée d’un groupe que vous allez rejoindre etc.etc… Il est à noter que même pour un homme , le fait de voyager seul est considéré hors-normes dans certains pays ( pour moi , je l’ai découvert en Malaisie ) .

  24. Comment by Charles

    Charles Reply June 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    But what if your girlfriend wants to travel with you but cant afford it, and you want to experience traveling alone for several months? Is that being a bad boyfriends?

    • Comment by Marie-Eve

      Marie-Eve Reply June 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      Not at all! You just need to sort it out with her. The mere fact that you are considering her feelings in the process make you a good boyfriend :)

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