© Jesús León

When You Can’t Travel: How to Genuinely Enjoy Your Partner Traveling Without You

The weirdest thing happened this month: my husband, not too much of a traveler, spent two weeks exploring Sumatran villages while I, the travel blogger, stayed home with our young son. At first I thought I’d go insane with jealousy, but since it was really my idea that he go and spend time with his best friend, I soon let go of that and actually found the experience interesting.

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I learnt a lot and thought I’d share some of these lessons so that when you’re the one that can’t travel, you won’t feel so bad.

Have Fun Reminiscing

It doesn’t have to be your turn to travel to get you reminiscing. Before my husband left, we talked a lot about my own (pre-husband!) travels. He’d never been to a developing country before, or anywhere in Asia apart from Singapore, so he was a little concerned about what might confront him.

I thought back to my first trips in the region and had lots of fun telling him about my experiences. If he’d been visiting somewhere I’d spent some time I’d have been excited to give him tips on what to see and do and to share my old photos with him.

Girl daydreaming at the park
Daydreaming at the Park © Meg Wills

Time Flies at Home

Home time goes faster than travel time. I think my husband felt like he was away for months instead of just weeks. He was exploring an entirely new culture and seeing so many new things. Back here at home with our regular routines of work and play going on I really felt like I almost blinked and missed it — suddenly he was back again.

Follow Along at Home

I made sure that whenever my husband texted me with a new destination (their trip was just how I like it — somewhat random and unplanned!) I looked it up online and read up on it. This was certainly more fun than just randomly flicking through travel guides. It meant something because my husband was there at that very moment, and I often asked him questions about things I’d read.

I’d also borrowed a few children’s books on Indonesia to share with our son and I got a good briefing in Indonesian culture by looking at them with him most nights. Not quite as good as being there myself, but certainly still very interesting!

Daydreaming and Travel Fantasies

Imagination can be more exciting than the real thing. I’d sit at my desk working or be in the kitchen cooking, doing the mundane tasks of life back home, and think that my husband would be swimming in Lake Toba or visiting an Indonesian marketplace.

One particular day it turned out he was, instead, trapped on a very crowded and bumpy bus for six hours and he wasn’t enjoying himself at all! But the ability to daydream about what a close family member might be doing at that moment was a lot of fun.

Woman with cat, daydreaming
© Hillary Boles

Give Yourself a Mini-Holiday Too

Since my husband was off overseas having a fascinating trip, I decided to be extra kind to myself and allow for a few treats to make it feel like I was on holidays at home. Instead of cooking dinner every night, my son and I enjoyed a couple of meals from our favourite Japanese restaurant.

I admit I also indulged in the odd chocolate or dessert after my son had gone to bed, taking some pleasure in the knowledge that nobody would see me eating it (although if my husband reads this, I might be in trouble!).

Plenty of Conversation Starters

Since my husband returned, we’ve had a lot more interesting evening conversations than the tired old “how was your day?” recital of events from a day at work. Asking questions about his trip has been fun for both of us.

Whenever I came back from trips, it was mostly to a silent audience of friends and family. Very few of them would ask many genuine questions about what I’d seen and done during my travels. But given my love of travel, combined with the fact that my husband traveled somewhere I’ve never been, I have been peppering him with questions daily since he returned. If I look at his photos again then something else pops into my mind and I feel compelled to ask him about some part of his trip all over again.

Future Travel Plans

The best thing about sending my “less travel mad” husband on a trip without me is that it has helped him become keener on travel. Before he’d even set foot back on home soil he’d started talking about his plans to take us all back there sometime in the near future. He’s made new friends who he’d love to see again and he wants to share some of his favourite discoveries with us. I’m sure it won’t be long before we get our own taste of Sumatra too.

And I’m sure he’ll feel more inclined now to visit some of the other (many) places that I suggest we could travel to. All this is a real bonus that hadn’t occurred to me when I agreed that he could make this trip without us.

  1. Hi Amanda,
    I totally get you. It’s hard when you’re completely nutso about travel and your other half isn’t as enthusiastic. But what a good way to get the travel bug under his skin!
    I’m in the same boat as you… have two little chicks so travelling isn’t as easy as it used to be, so living through others is how it’s got to be for a while.
    Doesn’t stop me constantly planning, though!

  2. I am always so jealous when people go in trips. I agree with your tip that imagining what someone is doing while they are away can be really fun. The thing that helps me the most when I am feeling jealous is to imagine that I will be able to go to that new place sometime soon as well. Thanks for the tips!

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