How Travel Can Help You Learn to Love Again

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If you’re in your 30s, chances are that unless you’re a troll living under a bridge hell-bent on frightening children in the rain, you’ve been through a relationship or two. Most likely some were complete disasters, others unmemorable, and if you’re lucky, a few completely unforgettable.

For me, travelling is intertwined with all relationships. If I am happy with who I am dating, I want to travel together to share a unique experience and explore a new and thrilling locale. If I am single, I want to spread my wings and connect with people I would never have the chance to meet if I stay at home. And when I am sad, travels helps me heal—whether it’s to try to put together pieces that are beginning to loosen or to reset after loss, it’s a reminder to myself that the world is a massive place with doors waiting to be cracked open. I just need to decide which one to unlock next.

Because I associate so many important timestamps of my life with travel, my highlight reel is intrinsically tied to places and people I was with—memories of which are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Much like scent association, it’s hard for me to look at travel destinations without recalling the last time I was on a Mexican beach reading a book beside my bestie or exploring an ancient vineyard with a now ex-boyfriend. Those flashbacks are meant to last and are why travel is so important.

So instead of dwelling on those sometimes-painful reminders, I am trying a new tactic: positive-only travel.

Through travel I can continue to make fresh, positive memories with people most important to me, but I can reframe the way I view them. I won’t look at exploring a Jamaican jungle with resentment because a relationship didn’t work out afterward. I can look at it as a completed chapter in my life, a relationship that was strong enough at the time to handle exploring that jungle. With a person who was right for me at that time.

I don’t need to revisit locations to erase memories of a lost love. But I can choose to carve out a new chapter with a new person there, or somewhere else. By travelling and capturing those moments as positives in my life, no matter how it works out, I can look at a map of the globe and feel grateful.

It's unlikely that life will pan out the way you originally pictured it when you were young. Be honest with yourself about your needs and what you can handle both when travelling and putting your heart out there. Chances are that once you do, you’ll find much more peace in your surroundings than you ever had before.

Leah MillerComment