I flew across the world for my boyfriend; then he dumped me. It made me fall in love with solo travel.
- I traveled from Canada to Australia for my boyfriend.
- He broke up with me in Bali, Indonesia, away from anyone and anything I knew.
The rain poured into the gutters, drowning out the persistent honks of scooters, the whines of stray dogs, and the words I sputtered to my now-ex-boyfriend: "Are we breaking up? In Bali?"
"I'm sorry," he replied.
I closed my eyes and remembered arriving at Sydney Airport only a few weeks ago; the overcast skies were my first warning that this trip might not be everything I'd hoped for.
I'd met my ex-boyfriend at our local swimming pool back home in Canada, and I was instantly infatuated, as only 18-year-olds can be. When I learned that the sweet farm boy with strong arms and a soft singing voice was leaving for an eight-month round-the-world trip with his brother and best friend, I tried to accept that our timing was obviously wrong.
After three months of long-distance Skype calls and lovesick messages, I changed my mind. I flew across the world to join him and his travel companions, hoping to stay for up to three months. The four of us spent three weeks in Australia, road-tripping the Great Ocean Road, learning to surf near Byron Bay, and boating through crocodile-infested rivers in Darwin before traveling to a remote village in northern Bali, Indonesia.
That's where he dumped me.
The day after our breakup, I woke up in our shared accommodation, my eyes raw and puffy. I walked to a decrepit-looking internet café that promised a connection to home. That was all I really wanted — to go home.
This wasn't a typical breakup
People usually get their hearts broken within driving distance of family members and loved ones: friends to take them out dancing and parental figures to squeeze in bear hugs. A sticky communal computer was my lifeline to everyone who knew and still loved me.
The boys and I had booked a flight to Singapore, but I knew I couldn't keep traveling with them. I also wasn't willing to go home early, tail between my legs. I wasn't sure what to do — I'd never intended to travel the world alone.
I found an affordable flight to Perth, Western Australia, and decided to nurse my broken heart abroad until I felt ready to return to Canada.
But something unexpected happened.
I fell in love with solo travel
Instead of spending my days isolated and miserable, I was traveling solo, and when people noticed, they struck up conversations with me. They invited me to play beach volleyball, share beers, and cook dinner together. I felt accepted and grew bolder.
I attended my first punk-rock music festival, alone, and danced in a sweaty crowd of strangers. When I landed in Hobart, Tasmania, I invited myself on a camper-van trip with three fellow backpackers. I traveled to New Zealand, where I trekked across a glacier, went bungee jumping, and cycled beneath snow-capped mountains.
I felt invigorated and lost, free and uncertain, frightened and more alive than I ever had before. Traveling by myself was difficult, but I kept going — and I've never really stopped.
Twelve years after that fateful breakup in rural Bali, I'm a full-time editor and writer specializing in travel and adventure. I've visited over 35 countries, most of them alone. I might have lost a boyfriend, but I gained something much better: a love of solo travel.
If I could say anything to that heartbroken girl, sobbing in the downpour while the world around her seemed to shatter, I would tell her: You're going to be OK. It will get better. This was all meant to be.
And to my ex: Thank you for letting me go.
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