After Suzanne Nilib's divorce became final five years ago, it took a year before her friends were able to pry the forty-something stressed Florida mom away from work and the responsibilities of caring for four kids, then ages 7 to 20.
Time to herself, especially for fun, was simply nonexistent during her marriage, but after nearly a week of skiing and celebrating her freedom in Park City, Utah, Nilib decided to make getting away with her friends an annual event.
"It was five days of pure mindless fun, especially after they took my cell phone away from me on day two," Nilib says with a laugh. "When you are suddenly single and live in a world that feels like it is designed for couples only, it can be depressing. It's nice to get away and feel alive again. It's great therapy for your soul."
Karen Schaler agrees.
"Traveling is an ideal way to reboot and refresh after a divorce because it gives you a chance to physically and mentally get some distance from your ex, and look at things in a whole new light," says Schaler, author of "Travel Therapy: Where do you need to go?"
Schaler, who once spent five nights in a Vera Wang-designed honeymoon suite in Waikiki with her mom after deciding that her boyfriend at the time was not worthy, says taking the right trip after a breakup is all about inspiration and garnering the power to create a fresh start "so that you're looking forward, not backwards."
In addition to missing out on a super-romantic trip, Schaler says her then-boyfriend also lost his airfare. Meanwhile, she gained a personal travel ritual: "It turned out to be one of the best trips I've ever taken and a new tradition for mom and I to do a special trip together every year."
If you're looking for a change of scenery to inspire a shift in mindset, consider these five ways to say hello to the rest of your life.
Take a dare
Six months after a nasty breakup, one 39-year-old woman from Boston (who asked not to be named) found herself flying, literally, in an indoor wind tunnel.
At the suggestion of a friend, she signed up for a bodyflight lesson while on a business trip to Salt Lake City. "I didn't realize how much I was still holding onto until I was forced to concentrate completely on something else," she said.
Indoor tunnels are used by professional skydivers around the world to improve or practice their skills, and they offer "flying" experiences (usually one or two minutes long) for anyone who wants to feel the thrill of skydiving in a protected, controlled environment.
Schaler is a big fan of taking the leap to leave your past loves behind. Her recommended "dare list" includes trapeze school and driving a few laps on a professional racetrack to help leave memories of an ex in the dust.
Trying anything you've never done before can work: Schaler and her mom took surfing lessons during their "romantic" Hawaiian holiday. It was a challenge she couldn't resist, since the lessons were included in the hotel package, plus, surfing was on her mom's bucket list.
A cruise vacation is one way to send the blues sailing, and it's a top choice for the newly single, "ready to mingle" crowd, according to travel industry veteran Bob Diener, co-founder of Hotels.com/Getaroom.com.
For those on the fence about how much to mingle, cruises offer a cornucopia of activity, or the option to stowaway in your cabin.
Diener says sites that cater to singles such as www.singlescruise.com are a big reason vacations at sea are gaining popularity with the freshly divorced, and he expects to see more programs developing to serve the demographic.
With sunshine, sand and solitude often high up on the must-have list for post-breakup departures, Diener cites Cancun, Hawaii, Jamaica, the Caribbean and South Florida as destinations popular with the suddenly single, whether by cruise or otherwise.
Help someone else
Nothing ends a pity party faster than coming face-to-face with those less fortunate. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have proven track records and opportunities all over the world; or choose something dear to your heart, whether it's volunteering at a school in Africa or working with animals at a local shelter.
Sometimes you can combine a thrill ride with a charity mission, such as the annual "Klicks for Chicks" event at Montana's Triple Creek Ranch. On this all-girl getaway, women saddle up for a three-day, 100 kilometer (62 mile) trail ride into the wilderness and the ranch donates a dollar to Parkinson's awareness for every kilometer completed.
Ranch manager Leslie McConnell says the Klicks for Chicks weekends are ideal for emotional healing, because riders take on a "physically demanding, emotionally purgative wilderness adventure where one is focused not on one's deep-seated problems, but instead on one's seat in the saddle."
Hopefully, a divorce departure is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, so if you have the funds, go ahead and splurge (and skip the guilt trip). Check in at a destination spa such as Canyon Ranch or Miraval, where achieving precious "me" time is a priority, and the search for life balance is conveniently woven into everything from meals to massages.