Does Travelling Heal a Broken Heart?

Time for a story from the heart.

Last year I embarked on a year-long journey around the world across 6 continents, 50-something countries, and with just myself, my suitcase, and my camera to document every single minute of every single day. It changed my life, my understanding of the world and my approach to others, so much that I decided to write about it and share my experience with readers in my book A Year to Myself.

I left my home country broken. Confused. Lost. And at a complete crossroads in my life. But I felt a certain sense of guilt then as I do now writing this, as I have been incredibly fortunate to have grown up in the Western World, in a system where my health, education, and society has always been held in high regard. So I didn’t understand nor could I justify: why was I so miserable?

I had just completed my university degree, been through a breakup that left me convinced I was destined for eternal singledom and 20+ cats (spoiler: I met the love of my life a year after this yearlong solo journey around the world – right back at home, would you believe!), but I just didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know my purpose. I didn’t even know I had one!

So I took A Year to Myself on a quest find myself, my purpose, and my happiness. From the title I’m sure you’re wondering how it all ends… Does travelling heal a broken heart? Here’s your answers based purely on my findings as a guinea pig who took the year-long solo adventure to find out:

brookeport Brooke Saward Bridestowe

Above are two photographs of me: one taken at the start of my year of adventures (left) and one taken just after (right). One girl, two completely different people from left-right.

There are a few obvious physical differences worth bringing your attention to: my hair is darker (much darker) in the first photograph, I am smiling ear-to-ear a genuine smile in the second photograph, and perhaps you can even tell I am much thinner in the first with a fuller face and figure in the second.

In the first photograph I recall quite well how insecure I was, uncertain of the future and scared by it. In the second photograph I am by no means insecure and completely happy with myself and the body I live in, but I am still just as uncertain of the future… the only different being I am by no means scared of that, rather, it excites me!


Does Travelling Heal a Broken Heart?

A lot of girls and women are now choosing to travel solo. Of course this doesn’t always mean they are ‘broken’ or really travelling for the sole purpose of getting over something – particularly a break up. But at the same time, a lot of them are. After all… that’s probably why you’re here reading this!

I also get a lot of emails, tweets and comments from girls who have followed in my footsteps and other solo travel bloggers, many of whom have cited a break up as their reason for needing to venture out into the world to heal or find answers to the questions they don’t even know. Point being: you are not alone. You are never alone and there is always someone fighting the same battle as you, just as there is always someone fighting a harder battle than you. [as girls, we gotta stick together!]

When I took this year I took it completely for myself. I wasn’t interested in getting back into a relationship with my ex-boyfriend and I wasn’t even interested in getting into a new relationship. All I wanted was time to myself to figure it all out, but mostly to figure myself out. To find out what I did and didn’t like, only to be discovered by actually trying those things rather than to conclude “i hate peanut butter” because I had never tried it (I now love peanut butter, by the way!)

I needed to better understand myself, be able to become patient, more kind, more understanding… because there isn’t enough of that in the world and the best we can do is start with ourselves. I need to learn how to deal with stressful situations, with the rollercoaster that is life, and to tolerate others in a way that would leave a calm smile on my face when someone around me was doing something I didn’t like. Being resentful doesn’t help anyone, and least of all yourself.

So in short, yes. Travelling did heal my broken heart and it is a sure way to challenge yourself, lose yourself, find yourself, create yourself… it truly is a time to just be yourself. But that isn’t to say you couldn’t do this without travelling either. The point of that year was to take a year to myself – not to focus on anyone or anything other than me, because I think in some ways to be with someone and let them love you, you really have to fall in love with yourself first.

You can read more in my book, A Year to Myself.

Have you experienced solo travel in the same or a similar way? Share your story with readers below! 

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    Clipping Path Service
    November 27, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Wow ! so nice and great article posting it’s also helpful information all of us so thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

    November 1, 2015 at 12:23 am

    I love this article! Travelling doesn’t fix everything but it makes you appreciate everything so much more :).

    Jill Charpia
    October 10, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    You inspired me.. so I had to write a little something! Experiencing that heartbreak is torture. I love the way to found to deal with yours. I’m definitely going to be checking out your book. If you want to see the write up, here’s the link.

    Thanks so much for sharing! Jill

    Backpack Babe
    October 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Wow!! What a difference a year makes. You’re absolutely glowing! And I think it totally mends a broken heart. I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years and travel is the best thing to overcome any obstacle 🙂 xx love this post Brooke!

    October 4, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Hey Brooke! You are such an inspiration to many girls. It takes a lot for someone to share their innermost struggles and very personal experiences. You are my role model and I hope to one day be able to grow, learn, accept and embrace everything that happens in my life. Hugs and kisses. <3

    Check out my travel blog, maybe?

  • In Review: September 2015 « little bird around the world | A twenty-something on life, travel, and adventure.
    October 3, 2015 at 5:05 am

    […] Does Traveling Heal A Broken Heart via World of Wanderlust […]

    September 29, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    You’re a brave woman and a great inspiration!

    September 26, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Beautiful post Brooke. <3

    September 26, 2015 at 3:47 am

    I wouldn’t say it healed my broken heart, but it did help me to gain my confidence and independence after relying on someone else for so long!

    Jamie Laird
    September 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm


    This is an incredibly well written and insightful post. I’m a big fan of your blog, and love reading your writing. I think this post is my favorite!

    September 25, 2015 at 8:29 am

    My biggest dream is to make a solo trip… Just travel the world all by myself. And you just motivated me so much more. Thanks! Oh and I just love your articles 🙂

    Diva In Me
    September 25, 2015 at 3:22 am

    You’re so right on the last part. You have to first know yourself, love yourself and then love someone else with all your heart. It’s great that you took a year to yourself and understand yourself so much better now. I’m glad you traveled and I found your blog! =)

    Dana Williamson
    September 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    This is honestly, the best, and now my favourite, article I have read so far! I have always felt that, although getting your heart broken is often one of the most painful and difficult times in our lives, these experiences usually make us more confident and happier people. This change may not happen immediately but from past experience, like anything, it does get better (corny, I know!). As someone who has gone through the 2 hardest years of my life and am about to go on my own journey around the world, the importance of loving yourself has been highlighted and I think everyone should realise that.

    September 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Can´t more than agree. I went to travel solo to forget my colleague I liked a lot (of course he was in a long term relationship that time) and I did but when I got back home the destiny made it the way that I was offered my old job so we ended up working together again. Things happened and two months later we were together! Can´t be happier and I believe this would not happen if I didn´t take a few months to myself 🙂

    September 24, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I love this – the whole concept of A Year To Myself. I agree with your last line: love yourself so others can love you, too. Thanks for sharing!

    Keri Blair
    September 24, 2015 at 6:47 am

    This is amazing! Good for you! That took a lot to travel the world for a year by yourself. I traveled through Europe in college for only 5 months and thought that was a life changer in finding myself. I cannot imagine doing what you did. I look forward to reading your book.


    September 24, 2015 at 5:46 am

    I have mixed feelings about solo traveling. Maybe I just don’t know how to go about it. The thought has always scared me. How did you go about your travels alone? What can you tell girls who are scared of taking that trip alone to encourage them to take the dive?

      September 24, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Tiffany. I’ve noticed there are tons of guides online that are like “best places for female solo travelers”. Maybe it doesn’t need to be a big trip going on a plane. Keep it local so you’ll have friends and family within a 3 hour drive or something. Even giving yourself a day to yourself maybe at the beach or hiking without phone or anything can help you get ready for a solo traveling mindset.

      I went to Vancouver, Canada by myself, and if that’s someplace that interests you, it is totally safe for female travelers. Everyone in Canada is so nice. I lived in New York for 5 years and I even think New York would be ok provided you are not going out at night by yourself in areas you don’t know.

    September 24, 2015 at 4:26 am

    It might not heal a broken heart, but often travelling discovers a new heart

    Anne Slater-brooks
    September 24, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I love this, and the before and after picture. I think travelling alone definitely allows time to get off the rat race and find yourself, hence why I try to regularly decamp to India alone, and focus entirely on myself and my health with yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. The difference after just a few weeks is amazing, so much so that I have persuaded my husband to join me next time (although I must confess I am worried it might ruin my ‘me’ time). Good luck with the relationship.

      September 24, 2015 at 1:33 am

      Hey Anne, where do you go exactly in India? Thanks!

    September 24, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Hi Brooke. I totally agree that traveling can heal a broken heart, and sometimes a broken heart you don’t even know you have. When I was 20, I went on a music festival cruise by myself. I didn’t know anyone, but it was so perfect for me. I gained a music community and started healing from my past of losing both my parents to cancer at a young age. I’m married and so happy now so I travel with my husband but I recently did a trip to Vancouver by myself, and it centered myself again to want to be the independent person I used to be. I think everyone should travel by themselves once in their lives and give the time to themselves they need. Thanks for the post and reaching so many travelers. Xo.

    Izzy Matias
    September 24, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Thank you so much for this, Brooke. This post reminded me of the time I traveled alone in Oxford for a few weeks. It was one of the best times in my life. Solo travel really allows you to find yourself and trust in yourself more. I hope to one day be able to travel solo again but for a longer time! I love your blog. You are truly an inspiration! I hope to meet you one day, so I can personally thank you!! 🙂

    September 23, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Brooke – it’s great to hear more of the backstory about why you began travelling solo. I wish you all the best and am happy to hear you’re doing much better!

    xx. Sher

    September 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    This was so inspiring Brooke
    And yeah your happiness is your own responsibility, you don’t need anyone else to make you any more happy, all you have to do is to create your happiness yourself, do what you love and be who you want to be..

    Laura Mareno
    September 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Someday I will take a year off for traveling! This had opened my eyes!! kisses:D

    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine
    September 23, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I love that you cite spending so much time with yourself and getting to know yourself as a big factor here. I know a few people that have traveled with a broken heart for some reason or another and expect the location to heal them. They want to ignore themselves completely. And in my opinion, that makes it really really hard for healing to occur. Thank you so much for your story! I love that it moved you so much to share it in a book.

    September 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    One of the reasons I went travelling was because of a broken heart and it worked! I was heart broken and hated my job so I decided to quit my job and travel the world solo! It was the best thing I ever did, I went from having the worst year of my life to the best! You don’t think about your ex when your meeting amazing people and having the most incredible experiences.

    el armario de la nena
    September 23, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    you´re right! I agree totally, specially the last sentence. It´s happened to me too 🙂

    Jabeen Waheed
    September 23, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    This was so beautifully written. Travel can help heal a lot even with other issues. I can’t wait to set off at the end of the year!
    Jabeen x

      September 24, 2015 at 1:08 am

      You’re very right about it healing other issues. It healed my broken heart of losing my parents. When I traveled alone, I gained a lot of family through a music community.

    September 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    I too left Australia last year after I turned 30. I sold everything I owned and left with no exact destination to mend my broken heart. A year later, I have changed and am more comfortable being me. As part of that journey, I found love too! Thanks so much for sharing this post Brooke – you motivational posts are my favourite. xx

    Gabriel Houston
    September 23, 2015 at 7:12 pm


    September 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Often times heart break is the catalyst for self exploration and growth. It’s a challenging journey but one that I’ve been told (still recovery from a broken everything) is incredibly rewarding. I’d like to believe that especially after reading your story. So thanks for sharing 😉

    Anup Roy
    September 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I agree with you and this is absolutely perfect. When you travel any where your mind automatically refresh and recharge for next work.

    Sarah - Tasting Lifestyle
    September 23, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    This is very inspirational, I’m going to take a look at your book!

    September 23, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I wish you would do more of these types of blog posts Brooke! While this blog is highly practical, sometimes when I truly need inspiration, it is hearing of stories like these that help – not photographs and tips! You are a blessing xo

    Brandon Collins
    September 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Awesome! I am doing exactly that next year in April/May. I decided to quit my job, sell ALL of my possesions and buy a one way ticket to see the world. I’ve traveled a bit already (26 countries and 5 continents) but only for short periods at a time; like 3-5 weeks. I feel that the only true way to discover yourself is to not have a tangible home but to realize how you feel inside is where you should live. I’m super excited and terrified at the same time; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for sharing!

    Zoe Joy
    September 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I can really relate. Not because of a broken heart, but because i need to find myself. Well actually create myself. I’ve always been an adventurer, having lived all over America but I’m looking for more and I believe I will find that through solo travel. I’ve lived a shy sort of life and it’s time to do things a little differently as I go into my 20s. As alway, you inspire me to travel and motivate me to work towards it every day!

    September 23, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I have a Broken heart but in a totally different way; exactly 6years ago today i got sick, very sick. I was 15 and in high school but never got to go back.. I am almost 22 and still sick and I am heartbroken by it, you don’t want to know how much I cry (especially today, Sept 23rd, is very hard on me, all I can do is cry)
    I’d love to travel when I’m healthy again (as healthy as I can get ’cause some parts of my body a are damaged for life..) but not alone, my illness made me too insecure for that plus I was lucky enough to find the love of my life a few months before I got sick and while I’m writing this, he’s laying next to me in bed, wouldn’t know what to do without him, he knows everything about me and is the only one who can calm me down when I’m having a breakdown.. I love my boy so much and I hope that I’m getting better soon so we can do all the things we want together, like traveling..
    xo Lyn

      Zoe Joy
      September 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Your story is so beautiful Lyn! I too dealt with years of sickness that kept me from living my life. It’s true what brook says about us never being alone. I do hope you travel the world with your boy and make up for that lost time ! <3


    Holly smith
    September 23, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    This is definitely something I needed to hear. I plan on traveling next year and have been really quite scared to go alone. I am always just doing things other people do to the point I don’t really feel like I know who I am. But traveling is something that I want to do and I am going to do it for myself. So thank you for sharing:)

    Holly x

      Backpack Babe
      October 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I think you’d love it Holly!! You’ll surely meet so many people when traveling solo and can be such a great experience to boost confidence and happiness! 🙂 xx

    September 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Hey Brooke 🙂

    Question – what is solo travel? is it just taking a plane and seeing something different without doing a tour or is flying across the world by yourself and doing a tour.. I’ve done both and believe that’s solo travel as I have never travelled with anyone going to my destination. I went to America and Canada where I flew there by myself but met up with friends along the way and I fell in love while I was in NEW YORK CITY – How iconic. We plan on venturing off again together meeting at Vietnam next March and I’m looking at getting a green card (fingers crossed) and moving to the States all the way from Australia to be with him and see how things work out for us. I travelled solo with no expectations of falling in love and I’m glad I did otherwise I would have gotten my hopes and it may have never happened and I would have been left disappointed.

    Krista 🙂