When you’re completely heartbroken, it can seem physically impossible to eat or even get out of bed — let alone board a plane to an unfamiliar destination.
But if you’re ready to forget and move on, travel can be one of the best ways to change your perspective and begin to heal. Not feeling convinced? We spoke with two women who, after experiencing utter heartbreak, found themselves having the trip of a lifetime. Read on for their stories, and learn how travel alleviate the pain of losing someone you loved.
A change of scenery changes your mindset.
When you’re stuck in your hometown after a breakup, you’re reminded of your ex at every turn. Completely changing your surroundings removes the visual cues that prompt those pangs of heartbreak.
“I’m not one to run away from a difficult situation, but there’s something about a complete change of scenery that serves as a reminder that life is beautiful and everything is going to be okay,” says Ajda, 28. “From one day to the next, the city you live in serves as a giant reminder that you are alone and it’s all over…. restaurants you two used to go to, bars where you shared late night kisses, your couch, your bed… everything becomes taboo. Going on a trip, especially a place you’ve never been before, helps to get me out of this mindset,” Ajda explains.
“It was the simple small things, like going for a run around Brentwood and grabbing a coffee, something he would have tried to do with me, that brought me so much peace,” says Madeline, 27. “I don’t think this would have happened in DC where I am from. Every place had a memory, it was tainted. Being in Los Angeles made me realize how enjoyable it could be to re-write that for myself.”
It helps you break the relationship routine and get outside your comfort zone.
When you’re traveling, waking up each day and not knowing what you’re going to do, where you’re going to go, or who you’re going to meet is a godsend to someone who’s heartbroken. By putting yourself in a scenario where you are surrounded by new sights, new energy and new people, you can begin to embrace the unknown.
“On my plane ride to LA, I was upgraded to first class. As luck would have it, I was sitting next to the drummer of a well-known band,” Madeline recalls. “The Wi-Fi on the plane wasn’t working so we ended up chatting. That run-in set the tone for the rest of the trip.”
“When you’re in a relationship with someone, that person becomes part of your life, part of your daily routine,” says Ajda. “One of the hardest things about ending a relationship is breaking that routine…. forcing yourself to cut this person off, physically and emotionally. Before my trip to Asia, I had just broken up with someone that had been a constant in my life for a long time. I was going on a three month trip to countries I had never visited before. Everything was up in the air and unknown and it was terrifying. But it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Traveling solo allows you to reconnect with yourself… and get your groove back.
If you’re experiencing heartbreak after ending an unhealthy relationship — one in which you couldn’t fully be yourself or were controlled by your partner — then being independent and embarking on a trip on your own is the most freeing thing in the world. Spending time with yourself in a new place allows you to remember what makes you, you — and what you love most about yourself.
“In college I found myself in a relationship with someone that I loved, but who didn’t understand that I needed to be able to have life experiences on my own,” says Madeline. “Maybe he was insecure, maybe we were too young, but I felt suffocated.”
Once Madeline was in LA, enjoying life on her own, it was like a weight had been lifted.
“Silence started to feel nice. One of the days I was in LA, my friend who I was visiting had to work, so I spent the day solo laying out at Venice Beach. When I was finally starving I walked up to this pizza place. Extremely bronzed, in my bikini, with wet sandy hair I inhaled my slice. The owner came over and sat with me, chatted, and ask me for my number. It was easy, it was fun, it was light hearted, and it was like falling back into me,” Madeline says.
She continued, “I love those kinds of interactions. My ex boyfriend had always harped on me to have my makeup and hair done… but this guy didn’t care. I’ve always been the girl who can talk to anyone, who is always up for a drink or a new experience, and my trip to LA made me remember that it’s okay to be that person. For a long time I tried to be what my ex wanted, but I was fooling him and I was fooling myself.”
The opportunity to truly unplug and disconnect.
If you’re on a safari in Africa, glamping in the mountains, or even just taking a quick weekend getaway to a nearby city — chances are that you’ll be having too much fun to bother with obsessively refreshing your ex’s Instagram feed.
“In today’s day and age of smartphones and computers and social media, we tend to torture ourselves right after a breakup… checking profiles and pictures and statuses and when the person was last online…. and why?! Because we are able and because it’s the only real connection we have left to these people,” Ajda says.
She goes on, “When you’re on an adventure, you’re not thinking about that stuff. I mean, of course it’s crossing your mind now and then, but you’re not glued to your phone or computer the way you would be if you were back home. If you’re in a country where there isn’t any internet connection, even better! Put the phone away, and get out there and just LIVE.”
The adventure takes your focus away from the heartbreak.
Once you’re enthralled in the adventure of travel, your heartbreak will soon be a distant memory.
“Sitting on that plane, I can still remember the feeling of complete and utter fear that was taking over. I was supposed to go on that trip for 3 months and didn’t come home for almost 7,” Ajda says. “I was having the time of my life — and my ex, by the end of my trip, was nowhere near my thoughts.”