The heartbreak, waxed poetic since time immemorial. That intoxicating giddiness of falling headfirst into love, unfortunately ending with the hopeless despair of a lost love, is perhaps a feeling familiar to most of us.
But, how one manoeuvres through the waves of emptiness that one is left with is a bone of contention. Although temptations might be to swear off the entire relationship scene, turn towards friends or maybe isolate oneself in the other extreme, travel is an option chosen by a fair number of people. At first sight, its attraction seems strong, escapism at its finest one could say. Not only does it provide a route for escape, the distance between what had once been, along with the allure of a mysterious, exotic place that could erase the sorrows and fill one with new experiences.
However, can travel truly be the one-size-fits-all cure for a heartbreak?
Although long believed to be just a fleeting fantasy (or rather nightmare?), science tells us that a heartbreak is indeed very real. With symptoms ranging from insomnia, depression, to general weakness and in rare cases, an actual broken heart. So, whilst travel cannot necessarily mend a broken heart, it can sure aid in the recovery process, which is what movies like Eat Pray Love and The Holiday have been trying to tell us. In my humble opinion, I would say, heed that advice, because although there is no guarantee of a happy ending with a handsome hunk, one could definitely create memories for a lifetime, like I did.
Last summer, I had it all planned out. But, unfortunately, the plans never materialised, and I was left alone, heartbroken, and had nowhere to spend the summer. What began as an impulsive decision that arose out of tears and ice cream, turned out to be a solo trip spanning half of Central Europe and culminating in Paris on Bastille Day and the FIFA World Cup finale.
My birthday may not have been a romantic one with a significant other bringing me flowers and chocolate, but it was a milestone in that I let go of inhibitions and did something I never thought I would - went on a solo backpacking trip and ended up in a Cold War nuclear bunker under a castle in Bratislava as the clock struck midnight. It brought with it, freedom, and the hope of a new beginning.
Paris might be the city of love, but for me, it was the city of learning to love myself and to love being alone too - because that is not necessarily a bad thing. Not only was I able to do something I wanted for myself, but also to enjoy doing it independently. Watching the Bastille Day parade and fireworks was on my bucket list since primary school French lessons. Whilst I may not have had anyone to kiss under the magical light shower, I met a lot of new people to cheer with, for the World Cup finale the next day. Meeting new people and striking conversations with strangers tends to be easier whilst travelling solo.
Along this journey, I let go of fears, pain and negative memories. Healing shall take place, however, slowly. You will learn to love yourself, and it shall shape you to be a better, stronger person, and that is exactly how travel glues a broken heart back into shape.