Aqoral Spa Hyatt Regency Cartagena

Using Travel to Cope With Heartbreak

July 2, 2019The Impatient Tourist

The best way to get over someone, is to get under someone” – pretty sure I’ve personally said this line to no less than a dozen friends after one of their breakups.

I realize this might be one of the most inappropriate sentences I have ever started a blog post with, but, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want. That’s kind of how I look at breakups as well. It is also how I look at dealing with mourning of any kind. You will do whatever YOU want in dealing with the pain you are going through, whether it is the death of a relationship or the death of a person. Only you get to decide how to cope with the pain rushing through from your brain, to your heart and to every damn anxious part of you.

Does using travel as a coping mechanism seem odd at all?

Think about it:

  • you get to escape your problems
  • there’s probably alcohol
  • there’s definitely food
  • you get time to yourself OR time with a friend who will let you cry
  • travel makes you happy
  • you might get under meet someone new to get your mind off someone old
  • …..did I mention alcohol?

It all may seem like an excuse to just run away from your problems but, why the hell wouldn’t you want to leave that shit? We are all adults and realize that problems will likely still be there, it isn’t like hopping on a flight to somewhere will make them magically disappear. But they will temporarily disappear. Sometimes temporary relief will be the best thing you can hope for in a shitty time in your life. Some of us get menstrual cramps every damn month, will taking a Tylenol fix that long term? No. But it will ease the pain for a brief period of time.

There were three times in my life that I used travel to deal with heartbreak. One of them was a really stupid idea (now that I’m 32 and look back at it) and the other two were awesome.


Overpelt, Belgium
I look thrilled, no?

When my first long relationships finished, I was in a super strange place in my head. I was like 21 years old, just finished college and the guy I had been with since I was about 15-16 had just turned crazy so I had to break up with him. The breakup sucked because he was my first love and all that corny stuff, but what sucked even more was the whole ….. well, him being nuts thing. He lived down the street from me and would ring down my phone at all times of day and night. It got to the point where I’d get a little anxious going to catch my bus to work, because he might be on that same bus.

Clearly, I was not in my right mind.

An opportunity had presented itself for me to go do some job training in Belgium, and then this job training would set me up to have a career traveling the world. TOTALLY SKETCHY. But did it matter to me at the time? Nope. I was young, my ex was nuts and I just wanted to get the hell out of Canada. So I quit my job, packed my stuff, told my parents and friends goodbye and took off on a plane to Overpelt, Belgium. (If I was doing this in 2019, do you know the amount of human trafficking thoughts that would have gone through my head? OK.)

Luckily, nothing bad happened to me on this trip. The company was definitely sketch and after the one-week of training I was there for, I told them thank you for the flight and decided to go venture through Europe for the next month alone. Great decision. Had the opportunity to visit some family members I hadn’t seen in a while and just do my own thing and clear my head.

By the time I got back to Canada, I was a different person and I never heard from the ex ever again.


Santiago de Cuba
World Cup watching outdoors.

Now that I think about it, graduating school and a breakup happening seem to go together for me? In 2014 I was finishing up my time at the University of Toronto and sadly another relationship I had been in for four years, was ending. This was a very different scenario since I was no longer living at home and the breakup was NOT with someone crazy. This breakup was amicable, the guy and I are still friends and there was literally zero dramatics with it. However, still a breakup.

Another point in my life where I was finishing school and finishing a long relationship though, so, clearly, time to run away again. I booked a flight to my favourite place in the world and about 3-4 days after graduating I left to Santiago de Cuba.

This would be my third trip to this incredible city, and actually the second time I would be there in 2014 because I had gone earlier in the year as well just to visit my friends there. This trip did something really good for my soul. I went there and got to enjoy time watching the World Cup, got heavily intoxicated every day sitting on a park bench with my $5.00 bottle of Havana Club and I slept, a lot. During my time at the University of Toronto I was working 2-3 jobs at a time and had a full course load. Sleeping was just not one of the parts of my schedule. I went on this trip and basically got very drunk and slept for a whole week. This was NOT an all-inclusive resort though. I always stayed in a casa particular and I had the best time ever.

Cuba helps you a lot after a heartbreak because EVERYONE there can’t wait to tell you how pretty you are. What you decide to do with that information is totally up to you. I realize not all women are comfortable with strangers complimenting them on the street. I also realize I may not even be that attractive, I very likely just am a walking green card. But you know what? It’s nice to hear compliments after a breakup. When you think you’ve lost the person who made you feel prettiest, the compliments are welcome and refreshing. (for me)

This trip had me coming back to Toronto like, ‘YESSS IM THAT BITCH GEEZE‘!


Girl in Chicago
Views in Chicago, from a glass floor.

Well, this break up really sucked. My dumb ass came back from Cuba, was feeling myself a little too much and was stupid enough to fall into a rebound. If ‘board man gets paid‘ is a thing, then ‘board man gets played‘ is as well.

I went through a break up, went on a trip, was excited for some Caribana fun and then met a man. STUPID. Do not recommend. 0/10

Long story short for this one, he was a bad decision. As someone who takes pride in being a pretty good judge of character – woooo lord, must have still been drunk off that Havana Club to make this decision. I had no business jumping into a relationship that quick, with a man who had so many red flags.

This whirlwind lasted a whole four months. In that four months, he managed to upset me so much I almost stepped out of character and considered going to show up to his job to make a scene. It’s never ever one of those though. Don’t let any of these men get you out of character.

Being ghosted about two days before your birthday is how this relationship ended. I had to leave a voicemail to end my own relationship. Imagine? Pathetic.

I booked a flight to my favourite place in the USA and took off the day after my birthday. Figured I would drown myself in Chicago with pizza and sports.

This trip was shorter than the previous two escapes from my horrible love life, but this trip helped a lot. It is amazing how some awesome friends (shout out to Pierce and Delancey) could just go bar hopping and sports-watching with you and it can take your mind away. If I tried to recount how much pizza I ate during my time in Chicago for that trip, well, I just won’t. Alcohol, pizza and a Bulls game was a great way to numb the anger.

Don’t run away from your problems people. I hope that wasn’t the point you got from my post. You can run, but you can’t hide. Unless you’re exceptionally wealthy, you will eventually have to come home and deal with the bullshit you tried to step away from.

Travel is a good coping mechanism because you get time with yourself. You deserve to feel the happiness of being alone when you travel, because you have been a relationship for a while. Go enjoy your own company and then you can come back and try to work on finding someone else’s company again.

  • Mirna

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