Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for traveling with a broken heart.
Travel is a mysteriously powerful experience with the ability to heal. Many people choose to take a trip after losing a dear one, whether it be friend, family member or lover. But what happens if you go through a break up while traveling? How do you cope?
This exact situation happened to me on my recent trip to Portugal. I was half way through a 3 week European backpacking trip when my relationship ended. I was alone, in a foreign country and staying in a shared dorm at a hostel – could it get any worse? (Of course it could – I am being dramatic).
No matter what your situation there are things that can help you deal with heartbreak.
Take time out to grieve
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that you have to pretend your heart isn’t breaking. You might be tempted to hold it in because you’ve made great new friends and don’t want them to see you at your worst. Put on a brave face when you head out, if you prefer, but make sure that you are taking time out to process the situation.
And if you feel like sobbing openly in the middle of the street, that’s cool too. You probably won’t see any of these people again anyway, so who cares? I cry on plane rides all the time. It’s practically a habit at this point and very therapeutic.
Either way, be gentle with yourself. Going through a break-up is a painful experience. Now is the time to take it easy and let all your emotions come out naturally.
Try to find some personal space
For all this grieving, you are probably going to want to have some privacy. Not a problem if you have the funds to check into a private hotel room with discreet staff who will bring you room service and not judge your tear-stained face. For those of us who are budget backpackers, this can be a little bit more tricky.
In my situation, I was staying in a shared dorm room in a hostel. On my first night, I was lucky to have the whole room to myself and could let all my emotions out. However on the other nights, when I had roommates, this kind of behavior would have been considered awkward at best.
So if you find yourself in the same situation, I would recommend upgrading to a private room if you can. At this point you need your space and it’s well worth the extra bucks. Alternatively, try to find some private spaces in your hostel where you can be alone.
Reach out to loved ones for support
This is the time that you need your family and friends. If you were back home, your BFF would be on their way over with a tub of ice cream, boxes of tissues and an armful of DVDs. However, now that you are traveling it’s not so simple.
Luckily in this day and age we have many communication platforms such as Skype, Whatsapp, email, etc. Use these without restraint. I spent countless hours on emergency Skype conversations with girlfriends from all over the world, including Brisbane, Vancouver, New York City and Ghana.
We’ve all experienced heart break and feel for others when they experience it themselves. Your friends and family will want to be there for you, especially because you are thousands of miles away. Let them support you, even if it’s not in person.
Don’t be afraid to stop or change your plans
Okay so your world has ended. Or at least your relationship has and it feels like nothing will ever be okay again. That’s normal and it will pass. The question is “what to do now?”. Do you keep traveling or go home? The right answer is the one that’s right for you.
I know plenty of bad asses who power through their break-ups, determined to continue on the path that they set off on. On the other hand, if you can’t go on, then that’s perfectly understandable. The world is going to be waiting for you once you get back on your feet.
For me, I knew that I couldn’t continue traveling as if nothing had happened. Rather than heading back home (where is that again, anyway?) I decided to fly to the closest city where I had friends living. I needed to be around people who cared for me. Even though I changed my plans and missed out on visiting the south of Portugal and Spain, I knew that I could do those trips again in the future. And I plan to!
Keep busy, busy, busy
Our minds are very powerful and left unchecked, they can run riot. Better to keep yourself busy with positive and constructive tasks. Or binge-watch the entire six seasons of Sex & The City (I’ve been there!). In my case, I was in Porto and Lisbon and needed a distraction but couldn’t string together a plan in my messed up state. So I went three different walking tours. It took my mind of the situation and I didn’t have to think too much about what I was doing.
Probably a good idea to stay off social media, especially if you are still friends with you ex. Also it’s not so much fun seeing your friends’ happy couple photos plastered all over your feed. You’ll get there, but you definitely don’t need to see that right now.
Don’t do anything permanent
The first few weeks following a break up can be a roller coaster of emotions. You may experience anger, sadness, relief and many more feelings. There is no right way and we all process break ups differently. These emotions might influence you to do something crazy like going on a silent meditation retreat or a booze-filled bender of nightclubs. Do whatever feels good but don’t do anything permanent.
Now is not the time to be making life changing decisions. So probably best not to sign up to the Peace Corps or get a lower back tattoo. If you really want to go wild, get a piercing – at least those come out easily.
Start making new exciting plans for the future
There is no rush to start thinking about the future. And in the beginning, it will probably be hard or even painful to imagine a future without your ex. However, as the weeks pass you will start to feel more like your amazing self and be feeling more hopeful about the future.
The positive of a break-up is that you are now able to do whatever you want without any input or consideration for a significant other. The beauty of being single is that you are free!
So what dreams have you been putting off because it wasn’t the right time? It could be a one year solo backpacking trip or relocating to The Netherlands to learn Dutch. I recommend writing down a list of all your goals and aspirations. This could be for work, family, hobbies and of course, travel! Personally, I write and review my goals every three months. These goals include short-term and long-term so I can always be working towards the future that I dream of.
What is the future that you are envisioning yourself in now?
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