Heartbreak holidays: The best places to go after a break up

In need of a post break-up pick-me-up? These getaways will help you get over it. 

Endlessly watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall is not the only way to heal a broken heart - going on holiday can make you feel better about your life. Which getaway works for you depends on where you are on the heartbreak spectrum. So pick the feeling that best matches your mood, and get packing.

Your mood: I need a distraction

Destination: Vietnam

If you're stuck in an endless loop of thinking about your ex – their smile, their laugh, the way they done you wrong – you need to break free. You need to be challenged, physically and mentally, and get your problems in perspective. You need a good dose of voluntouring.

World Expeditions has a number of voluntouring trips that combine community-building projects with a touch of sightseeing, including one to the mountains of Vietnam. Guests will help repair a local village school, plastering and painting, repairing desks and chairs, and building a toilet block. You will also get to explore some of Vietnam's most popular destinations, such as Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. Already done Vietnam? Trips to Peru, Nepal and Central Australia are also available.

Your mood: It's the end of the world

Destination: Italy, Turkey, Mexico

When your life is in ruins, it can help to be surrounded by them. It's the travel equivalent of listening to heavy rotation Sinead O'Connor, wallowing in it until you choke. Fortunately, the world is full of relics of empires that have now vanished as completely as (sob) your love.


The Romans alone left enough ravaged cities to create a whole itinerary. Start with Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities extinguished by the catastrophic explosion of Vesuvius (draw your own tragic parallels), before heading over to the magnificently derelict Ephesus in Turkey.

The Romans aren't the only ones with a way with ruins, of course. Mexico's magnificent Mayan ruins include the city of Palenque, still largely covered by the jungle, which adds a touch of Indiana Jones to the experience. Ruined and unkempt – how's that for a metaphor?

Your mood: I miss their touch

Destination: Thailand

The sound of his laugh, the scent of her perfume – break-ups are often a form of sensory deprivation. If you're aching for the feel of their hand on your skin, it's time for some serious spa time. No, it's not the same as being touched by a lover, but it's the next best thing.

Thailand is of course the spa capital of the world, where cheap massages are ubiquitous, no matter whether you head south to the beach or north to the cultural capital, Chiang Mai. Spend the day at the beach or traipsing through temples, before kicking off your evening with a foot massage or a more thorough going over.

If you have a bit more cash to spend, check into one of the country's full service spa resorts, such as Kamalaya on Koh Samui. Here, you can work with naturopaths, acupuncturists and other therapists to restore your emotional and physical balance, as well as soaking up daily massages.

Your mood: It's time to let loose and party

Destination: Rio de Janeiro

Enough with the melodrama! There comes a time in every healing process when you move from feeling maudlin to being ready to pick yourself up and remind everyone – most of all yourself – that you know how to have fun. When that moment comes, it's time to go Rio.

With a gorgeous natural setting, endless beaches and ubiquitous samba soundtrack, Rio is made for fun. The beauty is, you can choose just how much fun you're ready to take. On days when you're feeling a bit fragile, chill out in Ipanema and watch the world go by. If you're full of energy, put on those dancing shoes and hit the clubs at Lapa. In between, there's plenty to enjoy, from exploring the cobblestoned hillside enclave of Santa Teresa to afternoon tea in the beautiful Confeitaria Colombo. Brazilians are so friendly, you'll soon have friends to hang out with. Just one word of advice: easy on the cachaça. It's lethal.

Your mood: I need a fresh start

Destination: An overseas school

As self-help books love to point out, every ending is also a beginning. Now is the time to decide what sort of person the new you is going to be. There's bound to be something you have always wanted to try but have never gotten around to, whether it's yoga or photography. Why not give it a go in a scenic spot that you have always wanted to explore? 

Golearnto.com has hundreds of different holiday courses on offer, from Chinese lessons in Beijing to making mosaics in Spain. Double up with a holiday that combines a couple of different activities, such as a week in a French farmhouse focused on jewellery making and French cuisine. With visits to local producers and wine tasting, as well as jewellery workshops and cooking classes, you'll leave your holiday feeling fresh and inspired.