Emily Valentine had nothing to do with Brandon’s decision to take the road trip. He took the road trip to escape these Lucinda mess. He literally says that before we ever see Emily.
He found Emily’s picture while he was packing. Again, after he already was leaving.
He’s already on the road, heading nowhere in particular. Then he sees some blonde with a beret from the back. He thinks that’s Emily. It’s obviously not, but now he’s got Emily on his mind.
He goes to her parents house. They moved and he assumed she moved with him. Then he decides to sightsee in San Francisco since he’s in the area.
Where he runs into Emily by accident.
They spend a week together. Both are in different places. She’s healthy, therefor removing the factor that killed them on round one. Brandon jokes about fire starter Emily. Emily says she loved him, but Brandon never said he loved her. Brandon agreed and says maybe he’s never been in love before.
Emily says she loves him.
Then, and only then, does Brandon say he loves Emily. After spending a week together bonding and him finally falling in love. The feelings were there before, but he wasn’t in love.
That is how the story went. Em wasn’t the reason Brandon took the trip, he didn’t go searching for love, and never did he say that he loved Emily all along, or was quietly pining for her.