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Welcome back to Wanderlusting, our guest author series in which we invite other intrepid travellers to share their most memorable travel moments.

This week we’re thrilled to introduce Toni.

Now that she has reclaimed her future she’s about to embark on a period of indefinite travel.

Having walked a long and winding road to arrive at this moment, her tale of wanderlust is an inspirational one.

Prepare to be inspired…

TRAVELLING WITH A BROKEN HEART

Travelling With A Broken Heart

If you have friends or family that travel, the likelihood is that if you suffer a broken heart, they will tell you pack your bags and go out into the world to mend it.

To go and ‘find yourself’, accept who you are and be happy in your skin; something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.

But you know what?

Travelling with a broken heart was one of the worst things I did despite the valuable lessons that it taught me.

March 15th 2010 is the day that I began to learn some of the hardest lessons that life had to teach me, and the day that I began to regret getting on the plane to learn them.

Having left my 4.5 year relationship the previous year, I had been planning my trip for months when in the October I met a man who I fell head over heels for. He was everything I had ever dreamed of; gorgeous, owned his own home, a father (which didn’t bother me at all) and in a steady job; exactly what I wanted (and needed).

We’d only been together for weeks but it felt so right. And then it felt all so wrong. Christmas time came and went, as did New Year and just as quickly as he came into my life, he vanished without an explanation.

LOST LOVE

Travelling With A Broken Heart

He got what he wanted from me and I never heard from him again. I was heartbroken but told myself to ‘stick it in a box’; I didn’t have time to grieve over the intense feelings I had; Asia was just weeks away; I needed to plan.

It was January 31st and I was in London seeing friends and researching travel plans when everything turned upside down. Feeling unwell all day I went back to my hostel early and in the dark of night, in my dorm surrounded by people, my baby died.

I didn’t know I was pregnant but before I realised what was happening, I was in hospital having leaflets put into my hand about how to deal with loss. I was in shock. I didn’t even know what hospital I was in. But it was the middle of the night on a weekend and I was being ‘dealt with’ as quickly as possible for more urgent cases.

It must be something the staff deal with on an almost daily basis but I felt as though my world had collapsed. I said nothing. I simply went back to the hostel and crawled into bed.

Just like I had done with my relationship, I told myself I didn’t have time to grieve and so ‘stuck it in a box’ and ignored it.

I fell out with my entire family because I refused to talk about it with anyone. They didn’t want to accept that I wanted to deal (or not deal) with it in my own way.

Before I knew it, I was sat in the airport with mum waiting to go through to security but I couldn’t move. I just kept wondering how much money I’d lose if I cancelled everything and walked away from the airport. I didn’t want to go but everything in the Universe was telling me to; I’d got the time off work, I was hitting all my destinations in the perfect weather season; all the signs were there that I needed to get on the plane.

So I did.

STARTING OVER IN ASIA

Travelling With A Broken Heart

I’d like to say that those 3 months around Asia were some of the best of my life but I’m afraid I can’t because they weren’t.

They were some of the unhappiest and desperate weeks I have ever experienced because with no one or anything else to distract me, Grief knocked on the door and became my travel companion.

I cried on beaches, by swimming pools and often fell asleep with tears staining my cheeks. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have good times.

I had a huge smile on my face when I was partying with the Scottish rugby team in Hong Kong, danced the night away without a care in the world with new friends in Koh Tao and when I learnt to dive around the Similan Islands, I was so blissfully happy I cried underwater.

However moments like that we few and far between; for the most part I was miserable. I didn’t want to go home but I didn’t have the energy or desire to travel either. I hadn’t felt so trapped in years.

I was grieving for both my broken relationship and my baby; everything that I had ‘kept in a box’ came flooding out and I couldn’t stop it.

TRAVEL HEALS ALL WOUNDS

Travelling With A Broken Heart

I wasn’t ungrateful for having the opportunity to travel but I was too broken to appreciate it.

I can’t look back on my time in Asia as a whole and think of it as a happy time in my life because sadly, it wasn’t. People say that travel mends a broken heart but I think it only works if your heart is wounded.

When it’s truly broken you need time to grieve, whether it’s a relationship that has ended, someone has died or you’re just exhausted in life; you are so overwhelmed with grief that you can’t think straight and I couldn’t enjoy myself like I should have because Grief became my best friend.

I spent too much money, didn’t realise what certain places had to offer because I didn’t pay attention and didn’t explore because I didn’t care. It wasn’t my finest time in life.

The ironic thing about feeling so lost and grief-stricken in those 3 months was that it taught me invaluable lessons about myself and life.

I realised that I was stronger than I thought, that writing was something that I needed to make a big part of my life and that travel was the only thing that gave me a taste of what true happiness felt like.

When you travel, particularly if you’re by yourself, you are often faced with emotional baggage which you can’t hide from and if you’re not strong enough to work through it, it can take over like it did for me in Asia. Although there were happy times, I often don’t like to remember those 3 months.

Fast forward 16 months and I was back in the airport waiting to head to Africa to begin 7 weeks of camping across South Africa to Kenya.

HEALING MY HEART

Travelling With A Broken Heart

There were long days on the truck that forced me to face things in my past I had never felt able to before and though I cried; my tears were from relief instead of sadness.

My heart was wounded but I was strong enough to face my emotional fears in life. I look back on my time in Africa and know that it changed my life, as Asia should have done but my heart has not been ready for it.

This time, I ‘opened the box’ and let out my emotional baggage so I could sort through it. It wasn’t until Africa that I finally accepted what I had lost the previous year and unlike Asia, Africa healed my heart instead of breaking it further.

I am now 4 weeks away from a life of indefinite travel and though I travel with a heart full of past regrets, worries, fears, the unknown, hope and love I know that the more I travel, the stronger my heart will become.

I regret travelling with a broken heart but I’m looking forward to travel healing my wounded one…

✈ ✈ ✈

Have you travelled the world with a broken heart? Perhaps travel healed your soul? Share your comments with me below.

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22 Responses

  1. greyworldnomads

    Hi Toni, thanks for these open words. To heal a broken heart takes time. To cry and be alone is hard, but necessary. You did well. Africa is the best heart healer, you could hope for. You’ll be good. Safe travels 😉

    Reply
  2. Whereisxanne

    Really appreciate how honest and heartfelt this post is, which is so refreshing since many travel posts are endless lists of touch-and-go.

    Thank you for opening your heart and I’m sure you will find love again soon.

    Reply
  3. domain

    I’m more than happy to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due
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    Reply
  4. Carmen Allan-Petale

    Wow, how inspiring! I have also been travelling with a broken heart when my ex-boyfriend and I broke up during our travels. But now I’m happily married to a fellow traveller – we have our own blog – and time and travel can heal wounds.

    Reply
  5. TammyOnTheMove

    Beautiful post Toni! I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to travel while grieving about two major things.Time heals all wounds and I am sure you will have a blast on your next adventure in Oz.

    Reply
    • Toni

      Tammy – time does help you heal for sure and hopefully I will continue that journey on the next part of my life adventure 🙂

      Reply
  6. Bex

    Great post. I subscribe to the notion that wherever you are in the world, you’ll always be with yourself and never escape your issues…but then if you overthink it and think “Well, I can’t go travelling yet because I don’t know if I’m truly over my issues!” then maybe we’d never go anywhere. It’s a delicate balancing act.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
    • Toni

      Bex – well said! It’s a balancing act for sure. I think if you’re suffering from something acute that is troubling you then yes, think about if it’s the right time but if you have longstanding problems/issues then weigh up if you are strong enough to ‘unload’ the emotional baggage and deal with it.
      Great point!

      Reply
  7. Daisy Wong

    Toni,
    Love reading your post, I can hear your strength through your writing. I hear you taking back your power and moving forward with a bang! Take care!!

    xoxo
    Daisy

    Reply
  8. Dariece | GoatsOnTheRoad

    Thank you for this heartfelt piece. I think travelling can definitely be a way to “find yourself”, but I’m not sure about it mending a broken heart. Like you said, a person needs time to grieve. Grieve at home, feel the emotions and then head out into the big wide world and experience all it has to offer!

    Enjoy your indefinite travels!

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Toni

      I definitely ‘found myself’ in Africa but in Asia, as you say, there was too much else going on in my head.

      Thank you for your kind wishes Dariece!

      Reply
  9. Kimmy | AfterGlobe

    It always amazes me how sharing of ones pain can come across as beautiful at times. This is one of those times. Toni, I’m sorry for your loss and all you went through, but I’m happy for you to have made it out on the other side and to have found your strength.

    Reply
    • Toni

      Thank you for your very kind words Kimmy! I often think we can’t appreciate true happiness until we have experienced true despair and continued to move forward in life 🙂

      Reply
  10. Bell

    Thank you for sharing such an emotional story and really an important lesson. I agree if there is too much emotional baggage it doesn’t matter how hard you try to get away from it, it will catch up somehow, even if you are in a beautiful place in this world.
    Best of luck on your travels 🙂

    Reply
    • Toni

      I think that’s one of the reasons I struggled so much because I kept thinking I ‘should’ be enjoying the beautiful places in the world I was visiting but I couldn’t at that time.
      Thank you for your ‘good luck’ message 🙂

      Reply