The Solo Female Traveler: Married, Have Kids? (How Do You Handle It?)



We had been driving for about an hour, and that’s when he finally asked me what he wanted to know.

“Cherry, I want to ask you question – private question.  Is ok?”

I knew exactly where this private question was going; I would have bet what little I have on what was going to come out of his mouth next – and I would have won.  I just wondered how long he had been sitting there wondering how he was going to ask me the private question.

“Ok” I said.

“You married?”

In my mind I weigh the pros and cons of telling the truth.

Pros: I’m proud of my decisions, independence, and my culture which accepts that women don’t need to be married. There’s a part of me that wants to educate other cultures to my own. I know they don’t have to accept it, but I think it’s important to understand different cultures have different thoughts around marriage.

Cons: Do I really want to get into this conversation yet again; trying to explain to someone who doesn’t have the best grasp on English (and consequently I can’t communicate very well with) why I am not married? Explain it to someone who has never been to America…let alone Europe. Will he then try to marry me off to one of his family members…yet again?

Drum roll……..


I answer, “No, I am not married.”

I know what is coming next .

“Sherry, you have children?”

I’ve already decided to go the truthful route, so I might as well keep trudging along this cultural crevasse.

“No, I do not have kids.” I answer.

The inevitable comes next, “Why not married?”

I sigh, and try to explain in 2nd grade English, how I haven’t met the right man yet and that he shouldn’t worry, I am happy with my life.

Then he surprises me with the next statement and goes off of the usual script.

“Oh…I am so sorry.” he says.

I don’t think I had ever had anyone express their sympathy regarding my single lifestyle before. That floored me. I of course quickly tried to explain that there was nothing to be sorry or sad about; I was indeed happy with my life and my freedom.

But I knew that I wasn’t going to get through to him.

He went on about how I needed to have children, they were the best thing in the world and I would be sorry if I didn’t have them. I don’t think he knew I was 40, nor did he have any idea that kids were the last thing I ever wanted.

I tried to explain that my brother and sister have children and I see them often; he didn’t listen and he kept on going on about how it would be too late and then I would be sorry. That’s when I gave up trying to explain my cultural oddities to him.

I knew we were at an impasse. An impasse that I’ve been at many times before.

Are you a solo female traveler (or male traveler!) who gets asked this question frequently?  How do you deal with it?

Sherry Ott
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice.

Additionally, she runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat adventures at
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0 Responses to The Solo Female Traveler: Married, Have Kids? (How Do You Handle It?)

  1. Maida February 25, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    Yes, I was just asked that by the Vietnamese cab driver in Hanoi today. I’m single. His English was better than the other cab drivers I’ve had in Vietnam. then he asks… many years you have been married? I pretended not to understand. Then shifted it to the overcast skies and when they last had a sunny day.

  2. kelly February 25, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    On the flip side of the “are you married” question is being the married solo traveler and being asked “why isn’t your husband with you?” The same type of curious looks and barrage of reasons why I shouldn’t be traveling alone invariably ensue. When I explain that he has mobility limitations, I get the retorts of how I shouldn’t leave him alone, yadda yadda yadda.

    I’ve just tried to disengage as quickly as possible when conversations head that way. It would take too long to try and explain, that it’s really OK that I’m traveling alone, and that my husband loves having the house to himself every once in a while!

  3. sara February 27, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    I loved your post!
    I can fully understand the situation where pretty much everyday -single women have to face this. I am in Korea and the conversation starts with this questions…. :-)

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