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How Travel Can Help To Heal A Broken Heart

You won't even be able to fit "be sad" into your itinerary.

Two weeks before my last trip overseas my then-boyfriend broke up with me.

My self-esteem and I were already a bit estranged, so having a flight booked gave me some forward momentum that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Just over a month later, it was back to real life. My ex-boyfriend continued to exist within the universe and there was a lot of personal rebuilding to be done, but the rubble of that relationship had been cleared away or organised into neat piles to sort through.

Every break up, like every relationship, is different, but if you’re keen to fast-track the moping and wallowing that comes with it, a getaway may be just the ticket. Overseas trips won’t completely heal a broken heart, but you’ll feel you’ve at least completed the outside edges of the puzzle. Here’s six ways that travel can help the healing process.

#1 You can put space between you

Instagram’s textsfromyourex perfectly demonstrates how difficult it is to resist the urge to reach out to our exes. Getting out of town puts literal distance between you, your ex-partner, and a reliable internet connection.

If you’re standing in a Buddhist temple, you’re not going to be going to be checking in on that sunnies-wearing hottie who’s liking your ex’s post-break-up status updates. When you do get do some internetting, you’ll probably wander on to their profile, but it’ll limit your time there. Mum’s expecting an email, after all.

As an added bonus, being in a new place means you won’t be surrounded by any markers of your relationship or need to burn that tape of ‘Rollin’ With The Homies’ straight away.


#2 You can surround yourself with strangers

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Image: Gideon / Flickr

Your mates, being the beautiful angels they are, will want to make you feel better and will no doubt attempt to avoid any subject that might trigger tears. This is nice of them, but sometimes you’ve just got to rip off the bandaid.

Being far from home means you can hang out with people who haven’t known you long enough to truly give a damn, ’cause they’re going to the Parthenon if you want to come. It’s like breathing in cold morning air – it might make you cough at first, but soon you’ll be filling your lungs with that deep, purified oxygen.

You won’t feel compelled to continually chatter about your ex, either. Hearing yourself talk about it to them will give you the same feeling as hearing your voice recorded and played back. Friends at home will let you run your mouth because they’re supportive and lovely and have a high threshold for your whinging. Your new travel buddies will just find it immensely boring. Even better, you’ll hear about other people’s problems, which should help to put your own situation into perspective.

With that in mind, book yourself into a trip where you’ll be forced to hang out with new people. I did a two-week course literally Under The Tuscan Sun where all I did was hang out with rad people, eat gelato, see some ruins and art, nap, go to a two-hour class, drink wine, eat more gelato, sleep, and repeat.

(Ice cream tastes heaps better from an Italian gelateria than the freezer section of Coles. And when someone asks if you should be eating so much of it, just say: “I’M IN ITALY.”)


#3 You can get back out there

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Travelling keeps you active. It’s amazingly easy not to leave your house when you’re down in the dumps, but when there are cool things to see or Machu Picchu is alarmingly close, it’s very hard to justify time indoors. You have the world on your doorstep, so you might as well see the sights.

Exercise has proven to be incredibly effective in managing the symptoms of depression, and while walking the block in your own neighbourhood may not be appealing, that’s certainly not the case in New York City. One backpacker I met liked to get to know the city by taking public transport to a destination and then walking back to his hostel. Hell, why not just get lost for a bit? You’ll be so exhausted you won’t be able to fit “be sad” into your itinerary.


#4 You’ll discover long-forgotten passions

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Image: Chase Elliott Clark / Flickr

When you’re a jumble of feelings, it’s difficult to remember that, well, anything ever made you happy. Often in relationships, particularly first relationships, we lose sight of ourselves. If you bought into the “we” a bit much, you mightn’t have seen that band or gone to a play because your partner wasn’t interested. Eventually, you mightn’t even remember what you did in your spare time when that person wasn’t with you.

When you’re following a daily routines, remembering what you enjoy doing and what interests you might take a little longer. But when you’re in a new city with no job, no responsibilities and no plans, it’s the first thing you’ll be forced to do.

My “Omg, I forgot how much I loved this” moment came with visiting galleries and museums almost every day. I was stunned I’d forgotten that part of myself and, if I’d been in my home city, it might have taken months before I went to an exhibition. An overseas trip is like going on a series of dates with yourself. So, ask yourself: where do you think your date would like to go? What would impress them? What is the foolproof path to you falling in love with yourself? Then take it.


#5 You’ll take a table for one

Hanging out on your own is a massive luxury. When you’re in a serious relationship, especially if you have kids, you just don’t get the opportunity to head off to another country on your own for a while (unless your partner has Mother Teresa-levels of understanding). Savour it. Soak up the aloneness. This isn’t the apocalypse: you will see another human again, but right now, you have the perfect excuse to tell everyone to go away.

Hangs with me, myself and I will give you lots of time for self-reflection, and it’s good practice for when you get home. And, let’s face it, you might not be the best company to travel with anyway right now.


#6 You will pash and dash

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It’s been a little while since you’ve been able to put the moves on someone. At home, you’re less likely to do it, especially in the presence of someone connected to your ex. In the first few weeks, you’ll want to vomit at the thought of touching another human being. That will go away. Hopefully by then, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful people with accents who think you’re beautiful and have a cute accent. If that happens, pash them and then never see them again.

Check out Qantas flights and begin your next adventure.

(Lead image: Universal Pictures)