A break up is the start of the rest of your life. It’s up to you what this ‘rest of your life’ will bring. My 5-year relationship ended over a year ago now and with a lot of soul-searching and hindsight I can see it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Although there have been times in my journey where that’s definitely not seemed the case.

In my seven months of travels through Central America and Asia I’ve met many people who’ve gone travelling after long-term relationship breakdowns – when life as you know it suddenly changes so much what’s a little trip to Japan et al to shake things up even more? 

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Start researching to distract yourself

Either you’re sitting there with the map in front of you totally overwhelmed by the 180+ countries to choose from. Or, like me, you have a mental list of all the places you want to go and now it’s down to you to link them up and work out what you want to do there. Planning my indefinite amount of travel – which I narrowed down to six months so I could cope with what seemed like a vast abyss at the time – definitely helped me.

It eased social situations. “Oh I’m sorry to hear about your break up,” “Yeah, it sucks, but I’m going to Mexico, so not all bad!”. No one wants to be around a misery guts, and I didn’t want to have to explain myself and my relationship break down to anyone I didn’t have to, and my upcoming travels were the perfect cover up.

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Planning my post break-up travels also helped me to focus any anger, hurt, pain or loneliness in the empty evenings. Thrust back into a shared living situation with a bunch of self-centred 22-year-olds, while I was 29 and used to living with him in his family home, I made a list of all the places I wanted to go and researched the cool things to do, the festivals and the cool accommodation in each. I scoured blogs, top 10 lists and all the aspirational articles to make sure I didn’t miss a thing out in my chosen destinations. It was also a good way to talk to friends about something other than the break up to get travel tips.

It didn’t take long for my trip to take shape. In fact, two months after he dumped me I was on that plane with no flat, no job, just a suitcase of possessions and all the money I’d saved for our planned house investment burning a hole in my bank account. 

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Open your mind

If you’re anything like I was you thought your life was going to go one way. You were with the person you were going to spend the rest of your life with. Perhaps there’d be a wedding, almost definitely children, and 100% old age together.

Now you need to open your mind. Life may not going to go the way you expected, but with the right attitude it’s about to get a lot more adventurous and a whole lot better.

Make a list of what you want to do, and do it

In planning I found it difficult to work out what I wanted to do. I’d planned all our trips and holidays but it would always be to do things I thought he’d like. Now I had to work through years of unknowing assimilation to plan my perfect itinerary. The results were disturbingly different to what we’d done together in the past.

Where we would sit around drinking coffee, going to museums and visiting landmarks, I wanted to ski, to scuba dive, to go cycling, rent bikes and sail. So over the last year I’ve done it all. With every adventure I’ve shed a bit more of this doting person I’d become, and found more of myself. It’s been liberating.

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Think hard about your list. This is your time to really push yourself to prove what you’re capable of. If ever you’ve harboured a desire to teach in Cambodia, motorcycle across the States, Interrail Europe, bungee jump or just chill on a desert island it’s time to put the dreams into action.

Be ready to meet some awesome people

As I travelled in Asia and Central America I met so many brilliant, interesting and inspiring people who’d been burned, and escaped, past relationships. They all had a story, which to the current day all had happy endings.

I met with a friend of a friend while I was in Guatemala. One night we were out for a boozy dinner and she realised it was 9 months since she’d split with her husband. Nine months since he’d defiantly decided he didn’t want children and wouldn’t change. Their divorce was now almost through and there she was freshly tattooed, travelling with her new best friend she’d met a few months ago in Ibiza, fresh off a Spanish language course and absolutely loving her new life. With only one regret, that she hadn’t gone travelling sooner. Life could’ve been so different.

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People like this, who’ve grabbed life when it seemed like it was going so wrong at the time, have been an absolute inspiration to me while I’ve been travelling. And I can guarantee you’ll meet plenty of them too.

Let yourself grieve

In among all this planning and excitement you do need to make time to indulge any sad feelings though. ‘You’re so alone’, ‘no one loves you’, ‘never will’, ‘you’re not worth it’, or all of the above were all constants for me. Let them flow, and then let them go. After my break up I was so obsessed with my travels that I don’t think I let myself go through the normal grieving process of the end of any relationship. I buried my anger and hurt and it eventually took a long time to deal with this – too long after the actual event.

The travels you’ll never go on, the wedding that will never happen, the parties that aren’t going to happen and the children you’d named but you’ll never have all need to be let go. That’s it, let it out. Let it out for as long as you want. Acknowledge that you’re allowed to be sad, it’s ‘normal’ to feel crap whether you’re the dumper or dumpee and give yourself time to think it all through, and to learn from it too.

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And then it’s time to make a new future and to create a new path for yourself. Look on the bright side. You can design your life now and let someone join it, rather than having to evolve with someone you may have outgrown a while ago.

Be strong, be brave

The thought of embarking on a journey alone, when you’ve spent the past few months / years comfortably by your beloved’s side, metaphorically and physically, can excite and terrify in equal measures.

The task ahead can seem overwhelming with all the opportunities open to you right now. Break it down a bit. You don’t have to travel the world. Choose a continent, or a country, or a particular activity. If months seem like too much of a long time, plan a few weeks and then see where your head is at as to where or what you’d like to do next.

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You can do this ladies, it’s the perfect opportunity. Not only are you showing him or her how much better off you are without their life in yours, but you’re also showing yourself.


This is a guest post by Victoria Philpott. Photos by Victoria, Or Kaplan and Haim Yosef.

How to Start Travelling After a Break Up, Vicky Philpott, Travelettes JLM2 Victoria blogs at vickyflipfloptravels.com about travel and festivals. She’s been travelling for years but it was July 2014 that she went full time, thanks to the break up, and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. You can see how her last year of solo travel went over on her blog.