Travel etiquette: Is it ok to travel without your partner?

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My husband and I have a happy five-year-old marriage, but we do not share travel tastes. He likes luxury resorts where everything is taken care of; I prefer charming B&Bs and beach shacks. I like active trips; he travels to relax. He also gets two weeks’ less holiday than me. Is it selfish and unromantic to book trips away alone, or with friends?

It may or may not be true that the family who eats together, stays together. But this is most certainly not the case with travel. A holiday is no longer a sun-baked two-week exercise in compromise, family tension and frustrated desire. Today we’re firmly in the era of individualised, experiential and aspirational travel, which is every bit as exhausting – and rewarding and lovely — as it sounds.

Most of us consider ourselves savvy travellers, with our own personal holiday bucket list, a full grasp of what we love and detest in hotels, and an awareness of our limits regarding group trips. Some couples might find themselves 100 per cent holiday compatible, star-crossed lovers of mid-century modern Airbnbs and Thai beaches, with entirely matchy-matchy travel tastes. I like to imagine their trips are somewhat marred by regular bickering over what to watch on Netflix, or tearful rows about religion, politics and morality.

Occasionally our needs, our holiday time and our desires don’t match up with our partner’s.
The modern way to take your holidays as a couple is to plan a few major ones together, but give each other leeway to plan trips alone, or with friends – much like nourishing and necessary side dishes. A recent TravelZoo survey found that 60 per cent of British solo travellers are in relationships, while 43 per cent of those heading off unaccompanied on a city break, hiking trip or yoga retreat are married.

I consider this significant ideological progress, not only in how we travel but in our relationships. We’ve moved away from a one-size-fits-all approach, so gone are the days when we were all expected to express equal enjoyment and satisfaction from a two-week fly-and-flop in Egypt. We want our holidays to relax us, inspire us and act like a prescription drug on our tiring everyday lives. Put simply, we are much fussier about how we spend our precious annual leave and hard-earned cash.

Occasionally our needs, our holiday time and our desires don’t match up with our partner’s. We’re also losing our qualms about refusing to be a non-skiing plus-one on a ski trip, and instead book ourselves a cookery course or a golf holiday. Travelling with loved-ones is one of life’s pleasures, but there is nothing more luxurious than tailor-making a trip just for oneself.

And it would be a churlish partner who would object. The trick, as ever, is to ensure balance; suggest a solo or group trip he might enjoy without you, and ideally book your separate trips at around the same time so you’re both equally excited about them. This is a deal very much worth negotiating. Life is too short to grimace through a hateful holiday, or to deny yourself beckoning adventures in the name of politeness. Politeness is overrated. And travel is not. — Sunday Telegraph.

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