Close to two years ago, I sat down and wrote ‘Can travel ever help heal a broken heart?‘ Twenty-four months later and, while I’m still blogging, I’m almost entirely sure that travel can, indeed, mend a broken heart, albeit not in the way you might imagine. Here’s how and why you should turn to travel after a breakup (as well as some ideas on where you should venture to!)
A few months ago, I broke up with my second ever long-term boyfriend. We met merely weeks after my first long-term breakup and while he’s a pretty great guy, things were not meant to be. We wanted different things out of life, let alone the fact that we literally wanted to live in different countries and had entirely different interests!
Thanks to this blog (which is also my full-time job), I was lucky enough to pack up my things and quite literally move to another country. With this being said, this is obviously not feasible for most people (never mind the fact that I had quite literally been saving for my move for the two years prior).
As such, even just a short escape (such as a day trip or weekend break to a nearby city or town) can be just as healing in of itself. After all as ‘they’ often say “it’s the journey and not the destination that counts”. Well, if you’ve just gone through a breakup, then I feel you!
It’s a long and hard journey ahead, with the ultimate destination unclear. One minute you’re planning on spending your life with the other person, the next you’re facing the unknown alone… However, whether you plan to jet off to a far-flung destination or simply hop on a train for a short day trip to the next town over (much better for the environment and your bank account!), both are just as valid forms of travel as one another and both will ultimately help you heal.
Here’s why you should travel after a breakup!
Planning will give you something to look forward to
The worst thing about going through a breakup is undoubtedly the nagging voice in the back of your head. Whether that’s considering whether you ‘should’ have broken up or pondering the ‘what ifs’ of the situation, planning your next adventure will give you something to look forward to, as well as help take your mind off things.
You find yourself again
If you’re planning a trip, especially if that voyage is to go it alone, then chances are you’ll start to rediscover what you do/ don’t like outside of the scope of having to consider someone else’s needs and wants. No matter how much we tell ourselves that we’ll ‘remain ourselves’ throughout the course of a relationship, relationships are undoubtedly about compromise.
Travelling will allow you to discover exactly what you like and dislike, particularly when you’re forced away from your usual routine and automatic decision making processes. So whether you fancy perusing a museum, simply getting lost together with a camera, or going out on the town with a bunch of new friends, take the time being on your own to discover what you personally want out of life. After all, we only get one shot!
You can give yourself a chance to heal outside of your usual routine
When you’re at home, chances are you’re constantly being reminded of the person you just ended things with. Even the smallest of events/ places can trigger a memory. That bar you went for a date night in, the walking trail you took the dog out on.
The simple fact of changing scenery can liven up your day and show you the bigger picture as opposed to wallowing in your [negative] thoughts. Furthermore, being away from your typical environment will give you a chance to consider what you truly and genuinely want. For example, do you miss the person or the comfort of having that person there?
You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone
When travelling, we’re forced to make decisions and see things in an entirely different light or way. You have to change your ways of doing things and are thus entirely pushed out of your comfort zone, which in turn may well prove to yourself that you’re much more capable than you previously thought.
A word of warning…
If you’re planning on travelling after a breakup, then the most important piece of advice I would give you is this: just because you’re going away won’t mean that all your feelings will suddenly disappear. You’ll still be yourself, albeit in a different situation and location.
Give yourself permission to grieve and don’t feel guilty if you think about your ex. However, I would personally cut off all contact during your trip. Your feelings will still be intense and you may not like the answer you receive. Instead, give yourself some space to think, heal, and consider what you really want from life.
Here’s where to travel alone after a breakup!
I’ve always been a big fan of solo travel (here’s a guide to help you get started with solo travel) and there is perhaps no better time to explore this option than when you’re fresh out of a relationship. When my now ex boyfriend broke up with me, I personally headed out on a hiking trail near where I lived and went to discover some Neolithic ruins I’d never seen before.
Simply getting out of the house and getting a little travel experience was great for helping to put things in perspective while I planned out my next steps and figured out what to do in the weeks following (as well as to keep my mind distracted from things). With this being said, here are some of my favourite solo destinations:
Hands down, one of my favourite cities in North America (and perhaps the one I’d most like to live in if I were to ever leave Europe) is that of Montréal. Situated in the French Canadian region of Quebec, the people are friendly, the foodie scene is simply wonderful (including plenty of vegan options), and the art scene is unparalleled.
Perfect for a girls getaway or a solo trip (I’ve experienced both there), the hustle and bustle of the Canadian city will soon capture your imagination and heart in equal measure. During your stay in the city, I highly recommend booking your accommodation in the Vieux-Montreal district of the city, where many of the main attractions are just a short walk away.
Honestly, the ‘City of Love’ may well not be most people’s destination of choice when it comes to where to travel after a breakup. However, having a little bit of a love affair with myself, I find nothing more enjoyable than simply soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sights of the stunning Hausmannian architecture.
Another bonus of visiting Paris is that it’s easy to take day trips from the city, not to mention that it’s pretty normal to go out for food alone or simply sit in a café for hours on end, simply watching the world go by. And thanks to a myriad of museums, parks, and historic monuments, there’s no way you can ever be bored during a trip to Paris! For more Wanderlust inspiration, check out my solo guide to Paris.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I know several people who have taken the plunge to travel alone to Amsterdam after a breakup and it’s honestly one of the most friendly capital cities in Europe. Easy to explore on either foot or via bicycle (my method of choice) thanks to its compactness and relatively flat nature, the historic city is filled with stunning architecture and more museums than perhaps anywhere else in Europe.
Making a great base from which to explore the rest of the Netherlands, in the spring you can even visit the nearby stunning gardens of Keukenhof near Lisse. Otherwise, let yourself get swept away in the beauty of the Dutch capital city, not to mention the excellent foodie options available (even for vegans!)
Italy (Literally anywhere in Italy!)
If I’m totally honest, after France, Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world. And what’s not to like? The history goes back millennia, people are friendly, and best of all, the Italian food and wine is among some of the best in the world!
Some of my favourite Italian destinations (and where I suggest travelling post breakup for the most history, culture, and accommodation options) include Florence (i.e. Firenze) where museums are abundant and the scenery is quite literally breathtaking and the city of Pavia, a tiny university town with a Duomo designed by the hand of Da Vinci, and one of the most beautiful monasteries, the Certosa di Pavia, just a short train ride away.
A South of France adventure
Known around the world for its lavender fields and breathtaking châteaux scene, the South of France is the kind of place where time simultaneously speeds by and stops. Wander through villages quite literally frozen in time, sip on rosé in an off the beaten track café, and explore Roman ruins while imagining how the landscape must have appeared two millennia ago. Honestly, if I were to choose just one place to travel after a breakup, it would be a solo adventure in the South of France!