When I was living in Denmark, I was still in my 3+ year relationship with my boyfriend at the time. Long story short, the day before I moved home I was so excited knowing I would see him soon. What I didn’t expect was that he would end the relationship just hours before my flight.
Here are some of my tips on traveling with a broken heart.
1. Call someone who will snap you out of it. I had my friend there holding me while I cried, but when I called my mom, she was very no-nonsense and just put things in a list to focus on for the upcoming day. She then sent me messages on whatsapp throughout the rest of my journey telling me how excited she was for me to come home, and how nice it would be for me to be home. We aren’t typically that vocal in our family, so it was a nice gesture. She was also keeping my head straight to thinking about how to get from point A-B-C etc.
2. Have a bathroom near by! I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, but when I’m devastated my nerves go into what feels like a shock, yet feel hectic at the same time. Plus I’m prone to anxiety attacks. This makes me very sick to my stomach and I was running to the bathroom all night! When you add this on top of the stress and anxiety of traveling, especially in airports and airlines you aren’t previously acquainted with, it can feel like every cell of you is under attack!
3. DRINK WATER!! I can’t stress this enough! That evening before the breakup, I was already having an anxiety attack and couldn’t eat. After hearing about the break up, it took days for my stomach to handle food again. When you’re traveling you want to stay very hydrated so you don’t get ill. I felt that water also calmed my nerves even temporarily and also settled my stomach. I tried to buy some rye bread sandwiches in the airports, but couldn’t take more than two bites. So WATER, WATER, WATER!
4. Focus. You’re in a foreign country, dealing with different languages, trying not to get lost, finding your gate, trying not to forget anything behind while wandering around etc. There is a lot to remember, and your head isn’t going to be 100% in the game so to speak. You need to focus on what you’re doing ESPECIALLY with your documents or else you’re going to have a bigger problem on your hands. Focus on what you’re doing, then once you get to your gate, you can sit in your sorrow and try your best to keep it together. And make sure to take deep breaths when things get really hard. Don’t forget, it comes in waves!
5. Write it out. While on my plane from Brussels to Toronto, I started my denial stage of grief. I then wrote a long letter apologizing for ANYTHING I did wrong. Now I look back, and I see it was his problem. But at the time I was sure the apology would fix things and we would end up back together. Although it didn’t work, writing things out gave me a temporary peace of mind and helped me settle into the flight.
6. Sleep! At this point, you’re probably very exhausted. I didn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes the night before, and hadn’t eaten. I’d spent so much energy crying, thinking of ways to mend the relationship, as well as finding my way through foreign airports, unfamiliar airlines, and standing in long line ups to pay for my extra baggage, (my last minute flight didn’t have the same allowances as the airline I went through to get into Europe). Sleep is a way to escape for a little bit, and will help you think more clearly when you’ve had a bit of a rest.
7. Watch TV. Most airlines these days have on-flight entertainment, especially on long haul flights. Watch something that will help keep your mind occupied and calm you. For myself, I find that shows from my childhood help a lot (I watched Bernstein Bears when getting my wisdom teeth removed). Also comedy movies or sitcoms are great. Something to lift your spirits a bit. DO NOT watch movies like The Notebook. That’s just asking for trouble.
8. Allow yourself time to grieve. When you get home, let yourself cry. Let yourself sleep for a few days. I dragged out my jet lag and let myself go to sleep around 4pm everyday (10pm DK time). But after a few days, start to unpack and talk with friends, and keep watching shows! I watch a British comedy sitcom called As Time Goes By. It’s innocent humour and I’ve watched it so much in my life that the characters feel like they could be family. I wasn’t able to watch TV for the first few days as all I wanted to do was sleep, but I gradually added some episodes to my days and it helped to lighten my mood.
9. Start life again. Start making plans with friends. Try not to talk about the situation too much. Of course your friends want to hear about what happened. Tell them, then move on. Go out and do things with them like bowling or something. Keep your spirit up! Life starts again here, and you can use this chance to plan your life exactly as you want it and start working towards it, and that can be a lot of fun!!
Just remember, life goes on. And you will heal from this. Even writing this, I can vividly remember the pain and it’s sad to think about, but I’m in a very good place now, happier than I have EVER been! And you’ll be there too.