Can travel really cure heartbreak? A step-by-step guide on how to get past heartbreak on the road
Triumphing over heartache would be easier if we were armed with recipes for success. It’s not enough to have our grandmothers and sisters tell us horror stories of love quarrels gone awry while indulging in a feast of snacks together. We all are stubborn and insist on fumbling through our own chaotic heartache. No, just me?
I prefer the loving term “trailblazer” for my sometimes naïve, albeit stubborn ways. My stubborn ways have resulted in a few less-than dazzling break-ups, but, ironically, I treasure every one. Why you may ask? Each kicked me into high gear to prioritize self-love and travel.
So, dear reader, I give unto you my own sage advice on how to cure a weary heart with nothing more than a passport and a zeal for life.
Step 1: Copious amounts of food and drink that invigorate the soul
I always fall into a toxic cycle that prioritizes tasteless “superfoods” over drool-worthy entrees (Thanks, fatphobia). Dieting is a huge “kale no” from me! But I still succumb to their lofty promises guaranteeing to slim down your figure and give you that 24-pack. But after heartbreak, I refocus on loving myself and making sure that I feel nurtured in all aspects, including my caloric intake.
Food is meant to fuel you throughout the day, but it’s also meant to inspire you and tell you a story. I’m drawn to foods that are unexplainable. Whether they rendered the taster speechless due to their impeccable quality or because of their bizarre texture profiles and flavors, I want to understand why it imprinted on them so significantly.
Once, after an immense heartbreak, I jetted off to Czechia — the land of beer and heavenly fried cheese. Sampling the highly-praised fried cheese made me understand the immense power food has in our lives. Food illustrates a narrative. Sitting there gobbling up hot wads of breaded cheese, I uncovered senses I didn’t know I had. My taste buds were on a cultural journey and boogieing to this delightful new beat.
Now, I consider each meal a painted landscape of history. Sometimes cuisine transports you back to understanding why this food became a delicacy. Like in Belize, I unearthed the historic past of why pigs’ feet became a prevalent part of Creole cuisine.
Sitting before a plate that could either be a culinary flop or delight is also invigorating. It’s like a blind date, but there’s really no pressure. Sometimes it’s liberating to let food guide you. I’m guilty of exploring a city and being tempted down cobblestone streets because of the scent of freshly baked bread beckoned me over.
Years ago, I would’ve been ashamed at the “heavy” foods I consumed while abroad. Now, I do not shy away from heavy pastries filled with molten lava cheese or a robust, tomato base. Risotto delicately decorated with local mushrooms and cream is something I welcome with open arms. Instead of beating myself up over being not the “perfect” size 0, (which doesn’t exist by the way — all bodies are beautiful) I now try to love the real me. Every ounce and pound of her.
Step 2: Look for solitude
Travel isn’t always about food and scouting out the most picturesque sites. Sometimes, travel is meant to simply push yourself out of your comfort zone. For me, that meant searching for solitude to help me feel more grounded.
My first solo vacation was really a testament to myself to say that I can do it all alone. I was determined to be the source of my comfort and my ideal companion. This doesn’t mean I’ve become a pessimistic spinster that rejects any notion of everlasting love. Instead, I think focusing on loving yourself means that you’re content with reality. Rather than looking to escape the world and hide in a lover’s arms, you want to embrace all the possibilities and share that with someone. Whether that ends in heartache or years of giddiness, you are the only constant in that equation. You can feel satiated in the fact that you gave every morsel that you could, or called it quits when you couldn’t.
And if people ask too many questions, turn to animals for companionship. Nothing clears the mind like snuggles and headbutts from goats. In fact, I advise all broken heart menders to spend a day on a farm. There’s nothing like the quiet stillness and being surrounded by neighs and baas to eliminate unnecessary and untrue gossip from your mind.
The same effect occurs if you travel aimlessly within a country not knowing the language. To once again be blissfully unaware. Wander into churches or skip through majestic gardens. Wherever you can escape the noise in your head, go there. If you don’t know where that is, explore until you find it.
Step 3: Wander without the help of Google Maps
We oftentimes don’t allow ourselves the freedom to truly get lost. Google Maps is often our tour guide in bustling city centers. We protest that it’s to help navigate the labyrinth-like subway system, but it quickly becomes our life support.
Stow it away. Lift up your chin and truly look around you. Instead of watching the digital outline of a human get closer and closer to your destination, look down at your own feet slapping the pavement. Let the wafts of delectable scents draw you into the storefronts. Torrential rain may force you into a foreign bookstore to read in a language that’s not your mother tongue. Fall in love with a coffee shop and try to memorize the paintings on the walls. With these collective tokens of your travels, compile a mental scrapbook for yourself. Something that you never have to share out loud but makes your senses buzz in anticipation for your next adventure.
Now, reader, I must inform you that this last step is vital, but cannot be rushed. It will happen in due time if you have successfully completed steps one through three. If you feel apprehensive, attempt them again until you think you’ve perfected them.
Step 4: Allow yourself to fall in love again
Science and personal hypotheses aside, falling in love is some scary shit. Does anyone truly enjoy those first sweaty moments of hand-holding? Isn’t everyone’s’ heart threatening to erupt from nervous? Who truly enjoys sharing a pizza or any entree for that matter?
But as scary as it is, it’s also thrilling. The old analogy of playing with fire comes to mind. So why toy with someone that involves so much risk? The payoff is worth the risk.
It goes back to remembering the first time you ever fell in love with food or anything for that matter. It’s that tidal wave of emotions that crashed over you as you took what felt like the first bite in your lifetime. Those senses are something that we search constantly for in our lifetime hoping we can recreate that moment. It is when these emotional epiphanies take flight that we get a glimpse of how powerful of a sensation love is.
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The big question still remains: how do you know when you’re ready? For me, it was that missed opportunities brought more fear than the thought of heartache itself. Craving someone wasn’t my neon-lit sign to start dating again. Finding someone to fill a void has never been the answer. It wasn’t until I felt fearless that I realized I could love again. Missing out on these revelations carried a bigger risk than any amount of ache and tears some heartthrob could throw at me.
Deep down, I knew that all I wanted was to be overwhelmed like I was taking that first bite of deep-fried cheese in Czechia and experience something that rejuvenated my soul.