All the Ways Traveling Will Break Your Heart

You will never be the same once you start traveling.

Whatever you once were, you will no longer be.

Whatever you thought you would be, you won’t become.

There is this thing with traveling, and it is that traveling, no matter how many times you travel or how long you travel, it will always redefine you. And it will always disappoint you.

But it will disappoint you in the best way.

Traveling is like falling in and out of love a million times over and over and over again.

You will fall in love with many, many things when you travel.

You will fall in love with the way a plane operates. The way it violently revs up its engines to prepare for takeoff. The way it shakily moves into the air but then comes to a relaxing speed. The way the turbulence from wind isn’t scary, but instead reminds you that you are alive. The way that a plane bolts back to the earth, breaking through the atmosphere so quickly that there is a sudden feeling that it may crash, but then the wheels carefully touch the pavement with ease. The way you step out of plane and into something entirely different than before.

You will fall in love with the way a new city feels. There is comfort in knowing there is so much room for exploration. You will fall in love with the strangers who give you directions, even if you don’t speak the same language. You will love to learn the street names and the transit systems, even if it takes an entire day to understand how a city is exactly laid out. It’s confusing, but it’s different. You will fall in love with the small, family owned restaurant on the corner of a side street you happened to approach because the family will take you as their own for a few hours to help guide you through your new destination.

You will fall in love with the weather. It could be one hundred degrees or it could be below freezing, but you will love it. Even though it rains everywhere in the world the same way, rain will smell and feel drastically different wherever you end up. It will feel refreshing because it isn’t the same rain you have experienced your whole life. The weather could be unbearably hot, but you will love learning how to adjust to it, how to dress for it, and how to quickly find air conditioned places. The weather could be insanely cold, but you will love buying new jackets, finding warm bars with new beers, and huddling close with other people to feel your body.

You will fall in love with the food. It doesn’t even matter what kind of food it is, but you will find ways to love it once you adjust. You will love watching a lady at a food truck making pad thai in the steaming heat, the finesse she carries with each ingredient she adds. You will love watching meat being barbecued at a massive party, enough to feed at least fifty people. You will love smelling the freshly baked croissants first thing in the morning. You will love connecting with others over food.

You will fall in love with other travelers. It’s impossible not to. You will love how you share similar interests but have completely different backgrounds. You will love exploring cities with them and maybe even catching them in another city in the world. You will love learning about the places they have seen and the places they want to go. And maybe you will literally fall in love with another traveler.

You will fall in love with the way it feels to leave a city. The way it feels nostalgic immediately once you board the plane, train or bus. The way a city can feel like a home in such a short amount of time. The way a city calls back, welcoming you to return at a later time. The way different parts of the city holds different memories for you, knowing that if you were to return, you would return to those spots to relive particular times.

But all of these are exactly how traveling will break your heart, because once you return home, you realize that the thrill of of all of this has died down. It is simply a memory that you will have to store away for later. The nostalgic feeling you once had when you were leaving a city becomes pain because you know that once you return, you will be different. You won’t be the same person you were, and no one else can possibly understand that exact same feeling.

It will break your heart to know that in other parts of the world are other people you conversed with along the way who you may lose touch with. It will break your heart to know that the rain, the heat or the cold won’t feel the same at home. It will break your heart to know that the food you once tasted won’t be the same at a restaurant at home. And it will break your heart to know that you couldn’t possibly, easily love someone that lives thousands and thousands of miles away from you.

Even though the pain of returning home will haunt you for days, it is worth every gut-wrenching feeling you will have when you return. There is nothing more satisfying in the world than knowing you are alive, and nothing will make you feel more alive than allowing your adventures to break your heart. Falling in love with the people and the places you have been is the most wholesome love a person could have, even if it means that at some point, as with all things in life, must come to an end.

As with all great loves, it will change you, and you will never be the same.

So let your heart be broken.

Go explore.

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