Travelling solo isn’t selfish, it’s life affirming – especially if you’re married

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Ever since I watched Indiana Jones as a little girl, Jordan has been on my bucket list. So, when a couple of the girls I met on a Flash Pack trip to Sri Lanka in 2017 mooted the idea of joining the Jordan adventure earlier this year, I knew I wanted to be part of it. 

At that point, I’d been married to my husband, Graham, for nearly six months – and we’d spent most of lockdown together. We’d started dating and got engaged, moving to the title “Sam and Graham” pretty quickly. But I have more annual leave than him and I also love “proper” adventure (hiking, being active and getting off the beaten path) whereas that style doesn’t appeal to him.

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Me deciding to go to Jordan alone was a stepping stone in our relationship, as neither of us had travelled much to that point; most of our time together had been over Covid. At the same time, we’re not the kind of couple that’s glued at the hip. Graham, for example, is really big into motorbikes, so he often goes racing without me. When I told him about Jordan, he was really supportive. His attitude was: I don’t want to do that, but if you’re going, great.

Many people found it bizarre that I was travelling without my husband

Other people’s reactions were more mixed – many of them found it bizarre. I got a lot of, “Oh, Graham’s not going?” And I struggled with that. It made me feel guilty, like I was doing something bad – even though we’d had that discussion and he was very positive about it. I had a bit of an internal dilemma, where I worried whether doing something just for me was selfish.

The fact that I had more holiday leave than Graham helped. I wasn’t eating into time that we would otherwise spend together. And I couldn’t bear the thought of spending that free time sitting around at home. 

That feeling of guilt was still with me when I flew out for the start of the trip in March. I hadn’t flown anywhere for ages and I was quite nervous. But I sat next to a Jordanian guy on the way over and he was wonderful. We chatted the whole way and he shared loads of information about Jordanian culture and his family. 

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Touching down in the capital, Amman, I was hit by a sense of relief and the huge wave of excitement that comes from being somewhere completely different. It really felt like my senses were heightened by the whole experience, because it had been so long since I’d travelled anywhere. I had this sudden energy: I knew I was going to throw myself headfirst into every element of the trip, with zero regrets.

The entire holiday was amazing. The first time I saw the Treasury in the Nabatean kingdom of Petra (the location for Indiana Jones), I cried. The way our tour guide, Fadi, unveiled it was really clever. He got us all to follow him and look in a different direction. Then he told us to look right – and the Treasury was just there. It was so awesome, the sight of it just made me well up. 

Another highlight for me was the people I travelled with: it was such a great group. Everyone was so interesting – such inspiring, talented, beautiful people. Everyone got on so well and we adored Fadi, too. The trip gave me a platform to meet people I would never have come across in any other walk of life. 

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Another nice thing for me was the way the group was so like-minded. It helped to validate my own life choices. Most of my friends have got married, had a family, or moved out of London. And there’s also a pressure within society to lead this stereotypical 2.4 children lifestyle. People find it hard to accept anything that doesn’t fall into that vision: it’s all about when you’ve met someone, or are going to move in, or have a baby. You start to wonder if you’re strange, or wrong, for not following that blueprint. 

There’s a pressure from society to life live in a certain way

One of the really beautiful things about Flashpackers is that it’s all people of a similar age group who are – in various ways – choosing different paths in life, too. A lot of the girls on our trip had friends with kids, for example, but they are child-free. Because of that, spending every weekend at a kid’s birthday or christening doesn’t necessarily appeal. So, it’s really nice to meet people who are doing things their own way, too. 

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There was something about the Jordan trip that woke me up to myself, too. I hadn’t realised it, but I’d not been myself:. The adventure gave me the boost I needed to refresh and get in touch with the old me. I was happy in my marriage and in my house, but I recognised that my job had become a bit stale. The holiday was a kick up the backside: it made me reflect and soon after I accepted a new challenge with the same company, which allowed me to revive my work life. 

It helped me to reset on a personal level, too. Graham and I met and settled down in a series of months, and for over two years, we’ve been “Graham and Sam” everywhere. That’s not to discredit him or our marriage. But there was something really magical about remembering what it was like to just be Sam again. 

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The trip was quite off grid, so Graham and I didn’t speak on the phone for a whole week while I was away. It’s the longest we’ve gone ever without talking and I felt butterflies about the thought of seeing him again as I approached Heathrow. He and our dog, Biscuit, came to meet me at the gate and it was so lovely to see them both.  

Travelling solo meant I got in touch with the old me again

Whenever I’ve left a holiday before, I’ve always cried: I get really bluesy. This time was different. I was sad to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I met. But I also knew I had someone I’d missed to come home to. I really thrived during my Jordan adventure: I made lifelong friends, I was always last to bed and usually the first awake. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. 

Sam Considine, 37, lives in Essex, south east England, with her husband Graham, their dog, Biscuit, and their cat, Ranger. She works as an account manager for a technical training company.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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