Getting over a broken heart is never easy. Whether it’s the end of a relationship, the loss of someone you love or dealing with the pain from being treated unfairly…it well and truly sucks.
I’m not usually one for writing such personal posts…but having been on the road for ten months I was surprised to meet many others who were in a very similar situation to me. And there’s probably even more of you out there right now, going through exactly the same thing, wondering whether a solo adventure could help you get over such heartache. Perhaps (like I did) you have idealistic visions of going on a journey of self-discovery, much like Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” (that book/film has a lot to answer for!)
But is it REALLY the answer?
Well here’s my story…
Two years ago I had my heart broken in more ways than one. Within the space of a few months, I was dealing with the breakdown of a six year relationship, and the sudden loss of both my remaining grandparents, who were a both such a huge inspiration to me. My world literally felt like it had been turned upside down.
But if I am being completely honest with myself, this sense of loss had been lingering for a good while beforehand. I had generally been lacking direction and focus, and this was starting to permeate into other areas of my life as well. My job. My diploma. My friendships. My general well-being.
There was no reasonable explanation for it. I had a roof over my head, a good job, supportive family and friends, a happy social life. But for whatever reason I couldn’t shake that feeling that something was missing.
The turning point…
They often say that difficult times make you stronger and when my relationship came to an end, it was the catalyst for me to realise that the only person who was going to drag me kicking and screaming out of this rut…was me.
For others going through such heartache and confusion this could mean surrounding themselves with supportive peers, making a fresh start somewhere new, or taking up a new hobby to occupy their mind.
But for me, it was finally dusting off my backpack to fulfil a life-long dream and go on a solo adventure across the world.
But can travelling really heal a broken heart?
I don’t think there is a simple yes or no to this question.
If you want to travel just to escape…then the answer is probably no. All you’ll end up doing is running away and wallowing in self-pity somewhere else. Your problems will still be there when you return and chances are you’ll end up feeling even more confused than you did before you left.
But if you can see it as an opportunity to learn and grow…then the healing process can become the welcome by-product of the experiences that naturally come with travel.
While I don’t necessarily believe travelling solo will “fix” a broken heart…I do believe there are a number of ways in which it can help you move on…
Travel gives you distance and time
They say time is a great healer. Well distance can be too. Travelling is a great way to separate yourself from the past and learn to let go of those memories. But within time it will also help you focus on the happier memories too. I can honestly say that I now look back on my relationship with a smile. No more resentment or anger or asking the question “why”. Just an understanding that life does not always turn out the way you plan, but that doesn’t make what DID happen any less important. It’s all part of your journey.
Travelling helps you become more independent
If you have been in a relationship for a long time, then chances are the “you” and “me” naturally became a “we” at some point. When a relationship ends, at first it can be a complete shock to the system that the only person you now have to think about is you. But travelling solo forces you to think on your own two feet and make your own decisions and choose your own direction. You have complete freedom to do what you want and when you want, so embrace it!
Travel reconnects you with who YOU are
Travelling gives you the chance to be completely free of daily responsibilities and just focus on yourself. If you’re travelling solo, chances are you’ll get plenty of solitary moments to reflect. You’ll learn to truly understand yourself – what you love, what you hate, what you can and won’t tolerate. Furthermore, you’re bound to be pushed out of your comfort zones from time-to-time. And when you surprise yourself with how well you coped with those situations, you’ll feel a stronger and more confident person because of it.
Travel gives you new friendships and memories
On the road you get to meet so many amazing people, both backpackers and locals, from all different walks of life, some of which could even end up becoming lifelong friends. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is a great way to distract yourself – you’ll be too busy creating new unforgettable memories to spend time dwelling on the past.
Travel could become the new love of your life
Who knows you could just meet that special someone among all your new travel buddies. Or maybe you won’t. But either way you might end up falling completely head over heels in love with travel. Like any good relationship, travel will continue to inspire you, surprise you, and support you (and maybe even piss you the hell off at times!) But above all else, it will definitely bring out the best in you. And that to me sounds like the perfect match.
Have you ever gone off on a solo adventure to get over a broken heart? Share your stories with me below!