How to avoid travel burnout
Travel burnout? I hear you cry.
What a very privileged concern to suffer from.
But let me set the record straight. There is such a thing as the well documented ‘rat race’ in the real world, so of course it exists in the travel world.
‘How could I ever get sick of travel?’
Yep, that’s a good question. I’m not necessarily saying you’ll get sick of travel. What I’m saying is that travel, particularly long-term travel can become utterly exhausting. For some, travel burnout may take years to hit, for others it could take merely weeks.
Whether you’re on a gap year, travelling for fun, passing through time zones on your annual vacation or hopping in and out of countries for work purposes. Travel burnout is alive and real, and believe me, it threatens to leave you thoroughly washed out, unwell and homesick.
It’s true, surely if you’re doing something over and over again it’s going to become tiresome.
Those tuk tuks, dorm rooms and early mornings may seem exciting at first, for a while even. But months of no routine can, and will hit you hard.
How to spot travel burnout
It’s easy. The very first sign of travel burnout is when you start to lose enthusiasm for travel. All the things that were once crazy exciting, all of a sudden become a bit of a drag. Not because you’re not interested, more because you’re feeling tired, drained and you need a break.
Other tell-tale signs include missing friends and family, seeking home comforts in your food and drink and wanting to scream at the sheer thought of packing up and moving on to your next destination.
Have I convinced you that travel burnout is a thing?
Don’t panic. It’s OK to feel this way. It’s normal in fact, and it can be dealt with.
You’re not alone.
I’ve suffered travel burnout on more than one occasion. The first time, on an extended trip through South East Asia. I woke up one morning on a beautiful island in the Philippines thinking that if I had to eat one more sardine then I’d cry. Or if I couldn’t get Wi-Fi today, I was going to throw my phone against the wall.
How did I deal with this?
Well, putting things into perspective helps. I chose to slow down and book myself into a really chilled guesthouse with a pool and pizzas. I ended up staying there about a week. Read books, lazed in the warm waters. And it worked, because I didn’t go home. Instead I planned to head over the waters to Japan to mix up the pace and explore a new culture before heading back to South East Asia to continue my trip.
On that note, here’s some tips on surviving and fending off the dreaded travel burnout.
Slow down and take time out
Slowing down and taking time out is by far the easiest way to cope with travel burn out. Simply staying in one place for a week or so can really help you to wind down.
Spend a little more money if you can afford it and stay in a private room at a hostel. Scout out great hostels with more relaxing vibes on Hostelworld.
Even better, rent an apartment. Splurge the extra money if you can and check out Airbnb. The perfect way to enjoy alone time, take warm showers, read a book and cook.
Actually cook your own food! Oh, the novelty. The perfect place to stay in for the day, wind down (maybe watch some TV) and take some time to address the things you’re feeling anxious about.
Look after yourself
Don’t underestimate the power of looking after your physical health. Taking time for a run or doing some yoga is a great way to make your body feel stronger.
Pamper yourself a little. If you’re feeling run down, go get a great Thai massage or an Indian head massage. The perfect way to indulge in culture the relaxing way.
Find a routine, get some sleep and quit over indulging for a while. These simple changes are bound to have you on the mend in no time.
Stay in touch with home (or even disconnect from home)
It’s so easy when you’re on the road to let ‘normal’ things and ‘normal’ feelings slide. When homesickness hits, things can get really tough.
Take some time out in a spot with decent Wi-Fi to make some calls to home. Even a quick 10 minute catch-up can do wonders for your morale.
Send out some emails, or even postcards. Let people know you’re doing OK and tell them what you’ve been up to. Reflecting on your travels in this way also works as a great reflective tool when you’re feeling blue.
Likewise, if you’ve been overly in touch with home, let them know you’re going to have no Wi-Fi for a week and utterly disconnect.
Make new friends and network
The number one way to combat loneliness on the road is, of course, by meeting new people. Hostels and dorm rooms are a great way to meet new and like-minded people. Some of the best people I know, I’ve met whilst travelling. Over hostel breakfasts, in bars, on short tours, in cooking classes…. the list is actually endless.
It sounds cliché, but the people you meet whilst travelling, almost always are like minded, have similar goals and outlooks on life and this makes for great long term (and long distance) friendships.
Meeting new people, laughing and being surrounded by endless positivity can really help beat travel burnout.
And, who knows, maybe you’ll ditch your itinerary and join them onto their next destination.
Remember why you love travelling
And, last but most definitely not least. For the love of god, remember why you’re here!
However, disheartening the feeling of travel burnout is, remember, you’re pretty lucky to even be experiencing it in the first place.
Look at your photographs, write your journal, imagine what you’d be up to if you were at home right now.
Remember what it took to get to where you are today and why you wanted to be here in the first place.
Whether you’re out there chasing dreams, or you’re on the road long term, sit back and take time to be present. Enjoy what you’ve created, what you’re achieving and where you are today.
The most important things of all!