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When I took a solo honeymoon, people thought it meant my marriage was doomed. It was actually so healthy for our relationship.

Laura Schep   

When I took a solo honeymoon, people thought it meant my marriage was doomed. It was actually so healthy for our relationship.
  • After getting married, I went on an extended honeymoon by myself.
  • My husband was a medical resident with limited time off, so he had to return to work.

"Hi everyone. My name is Laura. I'm a doctor from Nova Scotia, Canada, and a fun fact about me is that even though I'm here alone, I just got married last month."

This is how I introduced myself to the members on my Southeast Asia tour in summer 2019. They didn't react with congratulations at my "solomoon" through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Most people on my tour were befuddled by my announcement: "You just got married — but you're here alone?" Some demanded to know where my husband was and asked why he wasn't traveling with me. "Well, it sounds like your marriage is off to a great start," one woman in her 60s who had never been married snarked.

My husband had to return to work

It's not that I didn't want my husband to come on the trip. He has always been my favorite travel companion, and we've traveled to nine countries together, including a short trip to Italy right after our wedding.

But as a busy medical resident with limited vacation time, he had to return to work immediately. On the other hand, I was fortunate to secure two months of time off before starting the next chapter of my medical education as a hospital-based physician, providing acute and end-of-life care to my patients.

I decided to solomoon without the love of my life because, through my work, I'd seen how fragile life was. I had met so many people whose dreams of travel had evaporated after a life-changing diagnosis or the development of a significant disability.

I never wanted to take my health or physical ability to travel for granted and knew how easily it could vanish. My husband and I wanted to start a family soon after the wedding since we were in our 30s, and it would be challenging to do a backpacking tour through Southeast Asia with a baby in tow.

He supported me

Fortunately, my husband understood and supported my decision to go it alone. He was in the minority: I didn't care about these strangers but felt like a broken record when I tried to explain why he wasn't with me on the trip and why it was psychologically and emotionally healthy for me to have experiences apart from him.

While traveling alone, I faced challenges and grew my ability to manage these independently in the moment, while leaning on my husband when I needed support.

When I called him, deeply shaken after touring Cambodia's "killing fields" — the haunting site of genocide when the Khmer Rouge ruled in the 1970s — he listened to me over the phone, thousands of miles away, offered compassion, and told me about his similar heartbreak years before when visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Japan. When one of our tour drivers fell asleep at the wheel while driving our group, I stepped out of my comfort zone and insisted to the organizers that we stop the vehicle and allow him to rest before resuming our journey. When I later relayed this to my husband, he commended my advocating for the group and driver's safety.

Two pregnancies and a pandemic later, I know traveling alone after our wedding wasn't a harbinger of distance or discord in my marriage, regardless of what anyone else thought.

What people didn't realize when they saw me on my solomoon was that despite the physical distance between us, and perhaps even because of it, my bond with my husband remained deep and was further strengthened through the growth I found in exploring the world outside my own.

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