Travel amplifies feelings. Newlyweds run away to road-test their vows and down cocktails in the sun while backpackers fall in and out of dorm beds on emotional routes less travelled.
But everlasting love can’t always catch the next bus out of town. Sometimes it is simply time to say farewell. When to drop that bomb is a matter for each individual, but we can offer some advice on where to take the high road.
1. In a fairytale kingdom, Rajasthan
Fantastical settings ease the burden of heartache. So take pity on your soon-to-be-ex in India‘s fabled desert state. Bygone lovers still haunt the palace hotels in Jodhpur and Udaipur; once powerful maharajahs know better than most not to look back in anger. One road to romantic exile leads west to Jaisalmer, but beware: the fortified city turns blood-red at sunset.
2. On a train platform, rural Japan
Airport break-ups are so awkward, especially when passing security or awaiting lost luggage. And what relationship hasn’t floundered under the weight of excess baggage? A train break-up on the other hand is quick and seamless. You can climb aboard the Singledom Express just before it pulls out of the station and leave your crime of dispassion by the tracks. Japan has an excellent train network, both urban and rural. And any grieving gaijin (foreigner) will be left alone by polite locals to stockpile sake from the nearest vending machine.
3. From an internet cafe, southern Turkey
What better way to say ‘I don’t love you any more’ than by email? But don’t do it from work or home where there is too much time to second-guess yourself. Hit ‘Send’ from somewhere cool like Bodrum so you can promptly return to your luxury gulet moored outside a seaside nightclub and sail the Turkish Med with your new rock-star friends.
4. In a post-war setting, El Salvador
Petty relationship grievances fall sharply into perspective in the former guerilla stronghold of Morazán. Try telling your battle-hardened tour guide that nobody understands you. Your dumped partner will have no choice but to feel grateful as they trace their fingers through bullet holes and walk mountain trails in the footsteps of those who fought for a higher cause. By the time they catch on to your chicanery, the surf will be pumping in El Tunco.
5. In the wild, Lesotho
Losing love to ‘volun-tourism’ can be particularly deflating. Why couldn’t you save the world together, y’know? But maybe she’s right – maybe you are selfish. Riding alone on horseback through a rocky mountain pass, you come across a young man wearing a colourful Basotho blanket. ‘Have you seen my girlfriend?’ you ask, explaining the noble philosophy of her start-up NGO. ‘No,’ he replies. ‘No girlfriend here.’ You sigh, skip stones down a waterfall, and remind yourself that Lesotho‘s lowest point is still the highest in the world.
6. In a sea of hedonism, Airlie Beach
Party towns are obvious places to forget one’s troubles and rediscover love in the fast lane. And when the Whitsunday Islands are nearby, you double your motivation not to settle for second best. Airlie Beach itself is more a stepping-off point than a destination, but its transient nature will accommodate the recently single. Aboard an overnight booze cruise around the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef, the fruit-picking wunderkinds will not tolerate a half-empty glass in their midst.
7. In a marriage-less society, Lugu Lake, southwestern China
Marriage is for losers, or almost everyone except the Na. In southwestern China, the Na people live in a matriarchal society that engages in informal relationships and holds the (strictly non-sexual) sibling relationship above all others. Do the pragmatic deed out here by the Na’s ancestral home of Lugu Lake and your jilted lover may see institutional monogamy (and their sister) in a strange new light.
8. Wear your heart on your sleeve, Gothenburg, Sweden
Goths do pain best. Why keep it burning on the inside when you can purge those sinking feelings with black eyeliner and heavy cloaks? Sweden’s second city will offer your wing-clipped raven an apt setting for emotional disembowelment. Gothenburg‘s Röda Sten, an arts precinct in a former industrial compound, is the starting point for this exit to the dark side. With your new introspective friends, ride the canals west to the most Gothic building in town, the Feskekorka (Fish Church), and purchase freshly dead herring. Love still tearing you apart? Find peace across town at the Eastern Cemetery, Scandinavia’s most beautiful on an endless polar night.
9. To a fitting soundtrack, Portugal
Most modern relationships have a soundtrack. That outdoor techno festival in Germany where you first met; the mariachi tune on the radio when you crossed the border into Mexico; the smoky South African jazz shebeen (bar) where you left your damn passports. Music for breaking up to can be harder to find. Luckily, the Portuguese created fado (fate), the saddest music on the planet. A fado singer has not done their job until the audience is in tears. They sing of lonely seafarers and an overwhelming sense of saudade (longing) for a once powerful empire or succour for the downtrodden. End it in the streets of Lisbon or Porto and your lost lover can wander in search of the next Amália Rodrigues to soothe their aching soul.
10. Somewhere outside Los Angeles
The City of Broken Dreams is a safe haven for the disenchanted. If you sense the injured party may lose grip of reality, set them free on Hollywood Boulevard or Venice Beach where they can freely reinvent themselves, trade neuroses, or at least get killer abs. But don’t neglect your own wellbeing: ‘uncoupling’ takes its toll on both parties. Take Mulholland Drive and don’t look back until you hit the lights of Las Vegas. Tonight you feel like dancing.