Why People Don’t Travel, Part 5: My Partner Doesn’t Want to Travel

Don’t let excuses hold back your travel dreams. Though many Kaleidoscopic Wandering readers are familiar with the travel industry, many others are not. As part of the Why People Don’t Travel series, I’m taking a hard look at five different things that keep people from traveling. In this series, I hope to provide solutions and additional resources for people who would like to travel more.

Today’s travel concern: “I want to travel but my partner doesn’t want to.”

Feet on vacationEvery once in awhile, the perfect match is made in heaven, but there’s one small problem: One half of the couple can’t live without traveling, and the other one hates to leave home. Some people would walk away from this relationship, but others stick it out, knowing that somehow, travel may have to go on the back burner for the sake of a relationship.

Just so there’s no confusion, you should all know that I’m one of the lucky ones who is in an awesome relationship with a guy who adores traveling as much as I do, but I also know many people who yearn to hit the road even though their significant other doesn’t want to.

If you have wanderlust, do you have to just stuff it in a closet and let it get dusty?

NO! There are lots of ways that you can still feed your travel bug while not alienating your other half. Here are three things to consider:

  • An increasing number of couples are taking time to travel (or stay home) on their own, so it is completely acceptable to travel without your significant other. If he or she is working, your other half will hardly realize you’re even gone.
  • It may be possible that your partner just thinks he or she doesn’t want to travel. If travel wasn’t part of how he or she grew up, and it was never something ingrained in the fabric of life, then the lack of interest may just be a hibernated interested.
  • That said, it is important to realize that some people do not like to travel, and it’s important to respect that.

But the problem still remains: You want to travel, and he/she does not. How to remedy this?

  • Travel on your own. Solo travel is a completely legitimate way to hit the road. Hopefully your partner can appreciate your need to explore the world, and if that’s the case, there is no reason why you can’t pack your bags and head out for a bit of alone time.
  • St. Thomas Caribbean US Virgin IslandsTravel with friends or other family members. If you don’t feel comfortable traveling on your own and your partner won’t travel with you, tap other resources. Take a girls’ weekend with some friends from college, ask your brother if he wants to go on that epic hiking trip or take the kids with you. If you can’t find anyone to go with you, consider signing up for a tour group.
  • Find out why your partner doesn’t like to travel. Is it because he or she is afraid of learning a new language? Is new food freakish? Does your other half find it frustrating and expensive? Or is it possible that your partner just doesn’t have any travel experience so he or she doesn’t know what to think about traveling? Talk about why travel isn’t a part of your partner’s life, and that will help you figure out if (and how) it can become part of the life you live together.
  • Travel in your own backyard. The truth is that many of us don’t take advantage of the awesome opportunities that our own cities and local surroundings offer. When was the last time you took a “staycation” to explore what your neighborhood or nearby towns had to offer? You may be able to convince your partner to take a trip not far from your own home. Plan to spend a night or two in comfortable accommodations and eat food you enjoy. The unknown is scary for a lot of people, so ease into a travel situation that is similar to the familiar.
  • Make a deal. Just as your partner shouldn’t have to be part of your plans to pick up and bike through Vietnam at the last minute, you shouldn’t be stuck at home either. Agree to meet each other halfway by spending vacation time at home half the time and traveling the other half of the time.
  • Don’t force travel, and keep it simple. If you find yourself arguing and fighting to travel, then it’s not worth it. Travel loses its zest when it becomes a fight, so if you can convince your partner to take a trip, keep it as stress-free as possible. Choose destinations similar to what your living conditions are. These are likely places where people speak English, clean beds and warm showers are available, transportation is abundant and food is familiar. All-inclusive resorts and cruise ships might be good options because someone else is taking care of all the details for you. Road trips will keep you a bit closer to home.

The bottom line is this: If you want to travel, you should. Ideally, you can find a middle ground with your partner and together the two of you can come to an agreement about how travel fits into the life you lead together. If, however, your partner has firmly planted his or her foot down and said no, then you can and should find a way to meet your need of exploring the world. After all, if you don’t travel now, when will you go at all?


44 Responses to “Why People Don’t Travel, Part 5: My Partner Doesn’t Want to Travel”

  1. Abby

    Your posts are always so well thought-out and informative. 🙂

  2. Alex Quinn

    I had a similar story liek this. I went to Chile a few years ago and took one of the Patagonia tours down there. I wanted to go there bad enough and could not find anyone to go with, so I went myself! You really learn a lot about yourself traveling solo I must say, and don’t let anything hold you back from going to where you want to go. The scenery, people, and wildlife made this tour a trip of a lifetime. I hope i can get down there again !

  3. Lana

    I know this post is old, but I couldn’t help it. My husband just loooves traveling, while I…don’t. He always wants to go somewhere exotic, somewhere foreign, and I just don’t want to do it. I love traveling in my own country, and seeing different states and whatnot, but, I don’t know what it is about going abroad. I don’t tell my husband, but I dread it whenever he talks about going abroad. And I have gone with him, but I can’t get excited about it like he does. I find myself DREADING it. I think a big part of it for me is flying. I HATE flying long distances. I think about blood clots forming in my legs every time I’m on a long flight, and it sucks the fun right out of it for me. Ugh…and we bought tickets to Europe for our anniversary, and…ugh. I’d rather explore my own backyard.

    I just needed to get that off my chest. I really did.

    • JoAnna

      Hi Lana! Thanks for stopping by. There’s nothing wrong at all with not wanting to travel. I completely appreciate and respect where you’re coming from – and there’s nothing wrong at all with exploring your own backyard. In fact, I don’t think nearly enough people do it!

    • Harriet

      I feel the same, but I’m 72 and just want to take short day trips or even overnight trips. I hate having to board the cats for long times. We used to take our dog on long trips but now that she is gone, I feel no zest for traveling. And my husband won’t support my want/need for a dog, so I’m kind of not excited about much these days. I hate flying, I have so much pain in my hips but because I take Warfarin for A-Fib, I can’t take anything for the pain. We are going on a trip to the East Coast from San Diego in 6 days…..I’m not totally ready, not sure how the airlines will handle the fact that I use a Walker/Cane/Trekking Pole to get around. When I told him over a year ago that I might not be able to travel much anymore, he was very upset, so I pretty much force myself to go to keep him happy. It wears me out, trying to cater to him, but he caters to me in so many ways, how can I refuse?

  4. brian

    I’m in my late 40’s. Lady-friend is in her early 40’s. She loves to travel. I think travelling is stupid. (Stupid for me, anyway…) Here’s why I loathe travel:

    1) I really prefer the company of those I work with to that of some odd ball, stranger that wants to make small talk.
    2) I dislike people. All people. This means I can be very curt or even rude. Telling people that bother me to F-off isn’t a problem for me. If I don’t like you, you’ll know because I’ll tell you. Being surrounded with drunken idiots and restaurants filled with sun burnt morons isn’t at all my thing.
    3) I loathe airline travel
    4) On previous vacations, I’ve been mugged, beaten, shot at and accosted. These are the main reasons that I feel the way I do about travel.
    5) I don’t like spending more time than I have to with a woman. Lady-friend is a big time traveller and that’s fine. I’m not and I believe that a vacation should be time spent away from one another. Don’t get me wrong, I love the woman but I know I’d have more fun with one buddy
    6) I just want to drive a couple of hours and fish. You know? Like, in the wilderness. Why in the name of Christ would I want to subject myself to a resort? Moving from one concrete jungle to another isn’t my idea of fun.
    7) Diseases like hepatitis, bed bugs, and anything else you might get from a third world place does it for me. Not to mention whatever other bodily fluids have been released on the furniture, floors and towels…
    8) I could travel to the USA which might be easier for some except, that’s where I was mugged, beaten and shot at, so America is a piece of crap third world backwood to me as well and since 1996, I’ve maintained the promise that I would never again put a red cent into their economy.
    9) Vacations cost too much and deliver far too little. I’m not coming back relaxed or happy or satisfied because I’m going to be on high alert for all the douchebags.
    10) I’m a grown man and if I don’t want to go someplace, I won’t and I damn well don’t owe my spouse or anyone else an explanation.

    • JoAnna

      Hi Brian ~

      The great thing is that we’re all entitled to an opinion. For some people, travel just isn’t a priority or interest, and that’s perfectly okay.

    • Terry

      A man with an opinion and a set of testicles. We need you in the USA to offset the ratio of douchebags to actual men here, so please, give us another try!

    • Yolande

      Fantastic answer…so much of this I agree with Brian

    • Emily Lillian

      Jeez Brian I don’t know how you found a woman to love you, you seem very uptight. Maybe you do need a vacation to release the stick that’s up your ass.

    • Derek

      Do the world and your lady-“friend” ( thought with the way you act, I doubt she is around anymore ) a favor and take all your vacations in a closet~ preferably your closet.

  5. Watupgurl

    Great series of articles. Definitely sheds some light on why people don’t want to or like traveling. It’s not my thing and I love reading the opinions of other non-travellers as it makes me feel less alone and less insane/stupid/boring etc.

    • JoAnna

      Hey there! It’s totally okay not to want to travel, and there are a lot of people out there who are in the same situation as you. Don’t ever feel like you have to *like* or *want* to travel. Feel free to focus your attention toward things that interest you. Life is too short not to.

  6. Ash

    My husband won’t travel unless I pay for everything and make up the money he will lose from leaving work. He doesn’t let me travel alone or with family or friends. He think wives should stay home.

    • JoAnna

      Hi Ash ~

      I’m sorry to hear this. There are lots of benefits to traveling, whether by yourself or with other people. I have no problem overstepping my boundaries and say it sounds like your husband would benefit from opening his mind a bit – something traveling could assist with.

    • Moco

      Ugh my partner is the same way. He loves traveling but says if we want a wedding and kids traveling can’t be part of the equation. And traveling on my own, he things it’s soenthing single women do or that if I go with friends I’d be partying with them. It’s so strange and makes me worried about a future of not traveling. I’m a teacher and part of why I teach is for the vacations to see the world. And we argue about this. Makes me so sad. Looks like I won’t be traveling anytime soon.

      • Mary Valz

        My husband doesn’t like traveling for various reasons.
        I feel my life is passing me by, so I am planning a solo vacation in Mexico next year.
        I will also join “Sisters on the Fly” which is a group of women of all ages, single, married, etc who get together
        in the USA and do terrific fun things. They travel with trailers, but you don’t have to have one.
        Check them out! I will join them in January 2019 as a present for myself.
        See you there, Moco!

  7. Suzanne

    Hey…i just came across this article after accusing my husband of not loving me bc he won’t travel with me…lol…here in the damp, humid weather of the South our bones ache & we can’t breathe…i want him to go to the so.cali desert to feel better…i go periodically, feel better & don’t care to come back, even after 3 weeks…its really sad as I am a desert storm VETERAN with numerous health problems. Traveling alone is not a problem for me…hubby has never flown…i feel like it’s a no win situation even though we are devoted to one another. Oh well…tired of being in beautiful places alone & no one to enjoy it with. I meet good people everywhere I go but I always miss my husband. There…ive said it…yall have a great day.


    Mine thinks it’s a waste of money yet he stares to into his devices when we go out to parks and such….so he is not often”there” or grasping that real life exp is way different than virtual reality. Thinks vr will replace real experiences. Also thinks going out is a waste of time…

  9. Brent

    My wife and I are in our early 40’s. She LOVES to travel, in fact gets depressed when she’s not on a plane going somewhere every few months. I, on the other hand, despise traveling. I’ve been to 22 countries and counting, with her. I usually dread having to go as much as a normal person dreads getting a root canal. I enjoy seeing new things, I really do, but I want to be in my own home at the end of the day. I hate hotels, Inns, Bungalow parks, etc. I have gotten to the point that I agree to travel with her one time per year on a family vacation of her choice and the rest of the time she can go alone if she chooses. Thankfully she gets 4 times the amount of vacation time as I do so that was the easiest way to excuse myself from traveling with her, or so I thought. She cannot understand me at all. Constantly tells me something has to be wrong with me, that it’s not normal to NOT like traveling. I thought by saying once per year (a compromise of sorts) I’ll go where ever you want no questions asked, would be enough but lately she’s been hammering on me for more travel. If I never traveled again I would totally be okay with it. It’s the only thing in our 10 year marriage that isn’t great, I’d say. Any suggestions on how to handle a ‘Carmen San Diego’??

    • JoAnna

      Hi Brent ~

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry to hear this is a struggle in your relationship. It sounds to me like you’re doing what you can to meet your wife halfway when it comes to travel, but the honest truth is I don’t feel equipped to offer an truly good advice. Your situation sounds like something better addressed with a marriage counselor rather than a writer who enjoys traveling. Best of luck to you!

  10. SuzieQue

    Yes it is sad when one wants to travel and the other doesn’t. I think a lot of it is to do with how you were brought up and what expectations you have. Our two sons are now at university in a different town which should be the perfect time for us to now travel but my husband always finds an excuse. Like he’s too busy at work or it’s too expensive etc etc. I am starting to get quite resentful but don’t really want to travel on my own. A lot of our friends travel but some have more money than us and are not paying for kids to live away from home or they get large travel discounts through their work etc. I’m not sure what to do but fear if he doesn’t change it will drive a wedge between our otherwise ok marriage. I don’t want to have regrets later on.

    • JoAnna

      Hi SuzieQue ~ Different people have different reasons for wanting to travel – or not. As I noted in this post, there are options for people who have partners who aren’t interested in traveling. I know you’ve said you don’t want to travel alone, but you might be surprised to find you enjoy it if you give it a try. Take a short weekend trip and see what you think. If this is a serious issue in your relationship, however, it may be best to consult with a marriage counselor or other professional, as I am not qualified to offer substantial advice in this area. Good luck!

  11. Sue

    I have fibromyalgia and I get so stiff when I fly, I can barley walk.
    I’ve been to Africa, Alaska, Tahiti . My husband wants me to go to Australia with him.
    I keep telling him to,go alone, I don’t want to fly that far again. He went to Peru by himself had a good time.
    We went to puerto Rico last December that wasn’t too bad and cruised the islands.
    I’d rather visit my great granddaughter in Arkansas.

  12. Ritza

    I’m newly married, and my husband is not interested to go to honeymoon. He gives the priority only to his work. Me and my family are unable to make him go. Please help

  13. Margaret

    I would spend all my free time traveling if I could,my husband drags his feet when I mention making plans.
    He just wants to go to English speaking places so he won’t be at a disadvantage.I tell him I can go alone but he says”no I’ll go”. We’re not on the same page.i like the excitement of travel.Sure flying is a pain but to me it’s a small part of the journey.Advice?

  14. Kristen

    My husband does not have the travel bug like I do. We have been on 5 cruises, took an amazing honeymoon to Antigua at an all inclusive resort, and have flown to Texas to visit friends. He has thoroughly enjoyed every trip! However, he hates the idea of traveling because he hates flying, doesn’t have any desire to travel, and says we are not financially ready to travel right now. While he is probably right hat we shouldn’t go into debt to travel, I feel if we can put some money aside little by little, it will get there! His main argument is that we both make about the same annually but he also has a side job that brings in a lot of extra to help us pay things off. He also loves to reward himself with his passions such as fourwheeling because he says he deserves it since he brings in the extra…I don’t know any other way to get him to be on the same page with me with traveling 🙁

    • JoAnna

      Hi Kristen ~ First of all, if you read through the comments, you’ll see you’re not the only one struggling with this. But just because your husband isn’t interested in traveling doesn’t mean you can’t. Have you considered traveling with friends, a sibling or even by yourself? Perhaps you and your husband could take a short holiday together every other year (by car or train or something other than plane), and on the off years, you could travel with others who are just as interested as you are in going somewhere new.

  15. Alex

    My fiance wants to travel for long periods of time… he loves being out in nature and just being on the road non-stop. We bought a house at the beginning of last year and he acted like he was really happy and excited about it in the beginning, helping to renovate it etc. Now he says he regrets it and can’t stop talking about quitting his job and hitting the road. Obviously, this is really stressful for me because buying a home was my dream and I DON’T want to sell it. I’d happily go travelling with him, but I’m scared about money and my job isn’t really one I could perform on the road.

    Any advice?

    • JoAnna

      Hi Alex ~ This sounds like an issue beyond an interest in traveling, and I’m not qualified to offer relationship advice. However, regarding traveling, I think it’s totally possible to enjoy traveling while also owning a home and holding a full-time job. Take advantage of the time you have off of work to explore new, further-flung destinations together. (You may find this post on that topic handy: http://kaleidoscopicwandering.com/2011/01/24/finding-time-to-travel/) However, while you’re at home, you can also “travel in your backyard,” taking day trips on the weekends and exploring what your own community has to offer. Many people think traveling only applies to places far away from their homes without every truly appreciating those destinations that are only a short drive away from their front doors.

  16. Dixie,

    I have traveled to Kenya (3 months), Germany (twice, a week each time), Scotland (twice, 3 weeks each time), Iceland (a week) & Ireland (3 weeks).
    My husband LOVES to travel. I used to but the last 3 trips, the airplane was HELL ON EARTH for me. I am 5’10” and my legs are 33″ long. Cramped in a tiny seat for 12 hours is hell. Last flight, a teenaged boy kicked my seat from behind repeatedly. I was horribly sick & didn’t have the energy to ask a steward for help. The kid also grabbed my hair & pulled it. When we were in Ireland, at two B&Bs, kids ran around SCREAMING and banging on the windows to our bedroom. It was hellish. I couldn’t sleep. We complained to the B&B owners. One said “Oh, you know how kids are.” YES, so keep them away from your customers!!! My husband wants to drive for HOURS and HOURs to find various sites. I enjoy archaeolgy as he does but I’d rather see ONE site per day, rather than rushing about trying to see EVERYTHING.
    I have told him I will never travel by air again. I will take a train to NYC, then a ship to wherever we are going. He is currently Nagging about going to the Shetland Islands. When I am at the new place, I love it (aside from having to dash from place to place). But airplane travel is HELL.

    • JoAnna

      I love train and boat travel! I have no doubt you’ll be able to enjoy lots of travel experiences even if you never set foot on a plane again. 🙂

    • Kathryn Wright

      Try flying only with a lie flat bed. Makes all the difference.

  17. Newly Retired

    You forgot one reason and that is a health situation prevents it. My 67 year old husband has back issues that keeps him from traveling more than 2 hrs at a time in a plane or car. And when he arrives he needs a certain type of chair and limitations on how much walking time. He would like to travel but no longer enjoys it due to these limitations.

    • JoAnna

      Completely understandable. I’m a big believer in “travel in your backyard” as well, and in situations like this, I think there’s a lot that can be done not far from your front door. So many people forget to explore what their neighborhood has to offer.

  18. Susan Z.

    My husband Does not like to travel he’s never experience. His common is if he was meantTo flyHe would be born with wings So I have to find someone to travel with I have hard time trying to do that it would be nice if I could find someone to travel with. He does a mind me going on any trips.

  19. Celia Marszal Iannelli

    I have an opportunity to go to Italy for a wedding. I am 75 and never been abroad, however its been on my bucket list. My “boy friend” of 4 years refuses to go. He seems to have a lot of anxiety about travel out of the country. However, when we met, I stated I would love to go to Italy and he agreed. Some of my family will be going, so I wont be alone; I feel sad and very disappointed that he wont come to one of the most beautiful romantic places in the world. We otherwise travel in the states and have a wonderful relationship. I am going no matter what; but I feel very sad.

  20. Dr Priyanka

    I loved ur article… I’m not ardent traveller… I wish to travel around the world…. My mom dad n bro r tooo… So very travelled a lot…. My hubby freaks at the thought of traveling… He hasn’t travelled much in life…. But he’s taking the effort with baby steps… Now I can understand how difficult it must be for him… Thank you sooo much for such a great insight.

  21. Johnny T. Ravel

    I see very simple trends in this article and the posts…depressed, misanthropic people hate traveling because they hate themselves and other people. Happy enthusiastic positive people like to travel because they like other people. Simple…depressed people want to make everyone around them as miserable as themselves so they hate it when the people around them are having a good time…like the majority of people on vacation do…ta da…

    • Aaron J.

      Wow!!! You have a very narrow minded perspective on both depression and human behavior Johnny T.Ravel… Depression is a serious condition that is not a choice for the people who suffer from it. Do you honestly believe that ONLY happy people like to travel??? I’ve known several people who LOVE to travel BECAUSE it lifts them out of their depression and helps them to not focus on it. I lost my “depressed, misanthropic” best friend to suicide, and guess what??? He Loved to Travel and did not “hate” when others were having a good time. You may want to reexamine your “simple” views on why people like or dislike traveling. Besides… Everyone has a right to enjoy the things THEY enjoy; whether that be exploring the far corners of the world, or soaking up the comfort of their own home.
      No opinion is wrong even if it’s different from yours.

  22. joseph

    my wife wants to travel a lot. but for me not too much and she do it with her friends. This is a big issue for me because sometimes I will get lonely sleeping alone that I think of leaving her because of f this. I think I deserved to demand her by my side sometimes but she refuses and still go out with her friends. No third party involved but its too much for me.

  23. J

    I just want to thank you for this post. I was crying when I typed in google “when you want to travel but your partner doesn’t”. My husband doesn’t want to travel even though we have this unique opportunity to travel or even live in another country. I will consider your advice in the article. I hope someday he will be interested in taking trips with me. I don’t want to give up.

  24. Alfredo

    I love traveling! My gf doesn’t want to leave the US because she’s afraid of getting hurt 🙄 and that she believes the rest of the world hates Americans.
    Me I love traveling. I want to visit all countries. Nothing in the US interests me enough to use up my vacation days from work. I tried convincing her but I’m giving up on it. I’m just gonna travel alone and I’m not afraid of doing that.

    • Sandie

      Wow! Well I can say on behalf of Australia that we don’t hate Americans. We feel sorry for you guys – Trump, no proper gun laws, terrorism, hurricanes – your country seems more terrifying. Just saying.


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