A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How!

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! by thewanderjoy

The month is December, and I have been planning the itinerary, travel and accommodation logistics, getting my gear ready etc. And today I have to apply for the weeklong leave at work. I approach the boss, and seek permission for my leave. The response leaves me a little taken aback. “Is everything alright in your married life? How is it that she is allowing you to do this? Please share your secret with me, since I’ve never been able to do it?” Well, before your imagination races, and I am tagged of low moral character, let me clarify. The question I asked the boss was, “Can I get a week’s time off to travel alone, by myself?” And the background of this is that I am a married man, and father to a four-year-old.

This wasn’t the first of such reactions that I draw from colleagues, friends and even relatives, who find it virtually unpalatable that a middle-aged family man can travel solo. Traditional thought dictates that once a man is married, he would either travel with wife and kids or with friends. The concept of solo travel seems reserved for 20-year-old, unmarried blokes. Well, here is my take. Many a times, our travel goals won’t find a match within our family and friends. Does that mean, we let go off that dream? Definitely not, pick up the bag and set out on your own. Too preachy?

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! 1/4 by thewanderjoy
On a local ferry ride in Alleppey

No, but honestly, I have started travelling solo again (after my marriage and a kid) only in the last 4 years. And I have been able to tick off a lot of things on my bucket list, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, simply because me and my wife have different travel ideas. I went to my first Tiger safari, roamed the streets of Prague, visited the Kochi Biennale, went birding in the Himalayas and went camping in the Western Ghats. None of which would’ve happened had I been constrained by traditional thought and norms.

Why Do I Travel Alone?

Travel Interests: I am more of an outdoor person, whereas my wife likes beaches and/or places that don’t have too much activity.

Choice of accommodation: I am more at home in homestays, lodges, basic accommodation, whereas my wife life a decent luxury hotel room.

Choice of destination: I am most happy in a wild life national park, or trekking a mountain, whereas my wife would love the comfort of a beach destination.

Solitude vs. Crowd: I am a person that loves his solitude, and places that offer that are my favourites. My wife on the other hand likes a certain vibe with people around, to me that qualifies as crowd.

So, What All Did I Do on My Solo Trips?

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! 2/4 by thewanderjoy
What's on the tree @ Bandhavgarh

1. Went on my very first Tiger safari to Bandhavgarh: Wildlife has always been something that I love to explore and photograph. But my family does not necessarily share the same interest or the patience to sit through a four-hour safari. Hence the decision to travel solo. It was way more convenient – I travelled by train, and stayed in a not so fancy hotel. Spent the non-safari hours reading my books or basking in the winter sun. Idyllic holiday for me!

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! 3/4 by thewanderjoy
Tapri chai on Beach Road at Fort Kochi

2. Went café hopping and art exploring in Kochi: The Kochi Biennale in 2018 is when I first stepped into Kerala. I’d always wanted to photograph the Chinese Fishing Nets in Kochi, and this art fiesta gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. The three days spent in Fort Kochi, exploring the streets of Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, visiting the art setups, café hopping in the mornings and evenings, coupled with a rejuvenating ayurvedic session were the best that I could imagine.

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! 4/4 by thewanderjoy
Waiting to board the train from Vienna to Prague

3. Roamed the streets of Prague: This was an extension of an official European MICE trip, where I took an additionally four days by myself exploring one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Living in a hostel dorm room, without attached bathrooms took me back to my student life. Eating like a local at the roadside eateries and food stalls reminded me of my early career days, and all the walking around burnt some piled up calories. But the memories I made in those four days, will stay with me for life.

Exploring the Himalayan wilderness @ Pangot

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! by thewanderjoy

4. Went birding in Uttarakhand: Sitting virtually motionless at a hideout, with the camera ready to capture images of the frisky birds, isn’t everyone’s idea of a holiday. But since I’d always wanted to do that (though I’m not a serious wildlife photographer), a solo trip to Pangot and Sattal, was the only way I could tick off this box.

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! by thewanderjoy

5. Camping in the Western Ghats: Then came 2020, possibly the most difficult year for travellers and wanderers. So, travelling with a kid was completely ruled out. Also given the need to maintain social distancing and limit the travel as much as possible, a camping trip in the close vicinity of Mumbai was the only option. Hence, I experimented with a new format for the very first time – solo camping trip. And must I say, I had a swell time sleeping in a tent under a canopy of stars by a lakeside.

The most obvious question then is how is the family comfortable with me travelling alone? For that I’d suggest that you take two breaks a year. One with the family (as per the travel formats and destinations that they like), and the other as per your preference.

Having a dialogue with your partner, and explaining why you need to take the trip also is necessary. My wife's first reaction, thankfully, wasn't of shock. I had in the past let go of treks because she wasn't comfortable with it, and finally she saw that such trips are my much needed battery recharging periods. So talk to your wife and let her see that you too need a way to pursue your passions and interests. Also, since family would be wary of your safety, travel details, accommodation details etc. should be shared, and you need to be accessible should they want to reach out to you. On my first solo trip, I used to update her twice a day on my wellbeing, hotel stay, travel etc. Once she got convinced that I am doing jolly good on my own, now its more of a sporadic update about reaching, leaving etc.

Personally, this is a sweet spot that I have been able to arrive at, between my family’s and my own travel choices. Many may wonder whether I actually enjoy this time away from family, whether I miss my kids etc. Well, I am not inhuman, and I do love my family, however my only recommendation to all married people would be - please spend some time with yourself, trust me, you'll love yourself for having taking this decision. And irrespective of the convention, as a middle-aged married man, pursuing my travel goals is something that I would be sticking to for a long time to come. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, just talk to your family, pick up your bag and explore! After all, you are your best travel company!

Ready to travel for free? Earn credits and redeem them on Tripoto’s weekend getaways, hotel stays and vacation packages!

Think we missed out on something? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or write about it here on Tripoto and earn Tripoto Credits!

My trip companions!

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! by thewanderjoy

Solitude at Garud Tal, Uttarakhand

Photo of A Middle Aged Married Man Travelling Solo! Here's Why and How! by thewanderjoy