How to Deal with Travel Burnout
About a year ago I realized I had enough money saved to either make a down payment on an apartment or travel for a year. I was doing well in my amateur climbing career, but the long hours and immense pressure as manager in a multinational media company, in addition to the stress of living in a big city seemed to pull me in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be in life. I really wanted to travel long-term and climb around the world.
After thinking about my options for a few months, I quit my job and a month later began my journey, initially planning to stay in Peru for four months, and then decide on other destinations.
Not having a plan or a return date was certainly one of the most exciting aspects of the trip, but the last thing that I thought would happen when I started the journey was to eventually be fed up with traveling. I knew I would be on the road for a long time, but never did I imagine that I would come to dread it.
During the first months of my trip I met a Venezuelan girl who had been traveling for almost two years, and told me she could not stand to be in dorm rooms surrounded by noisy teenagers anymore. Though I no longer considered myself a “partier,” I could not begin to understand how someone could get tired of the traveling vibe — until it happened to me.
Not having a plan or a return date was certainly one of the most exciting aspects of the trip, but the last thing that I thought would happen when I started the journey was to eventually be fed up with traveling.
I became tired of noisy and busy dorms, of packing and unpacking bags, of catching trains, buses, and airplanes, of feeling like I had to explore every city to its core every time, tired of socializing nonstop, and of having to retell my travel story a million times.
Travel burnout is real and luckily there are ways to deal with it. First, it’s important to understand that every long-term traveler goes through feeling burned out, which means it’s completely normal. Second, it does not mean you have to go home. On the contrary: you’ll realize that tending to your cravings for everyday conveniences or your homesickness makes long-term travel possible. Here are a few tips on how to deal with these issues.
How to Deal with Travel Burnout
If it is just an occasional feeling: Splurge on what makes you feel good
This one is easy to solve. Do a Skype session with friends and family when you get homesick, book a single room, treat yourself to a fancy meal, or stop at a fast food chain from your home country. Instead of buying a local souvenir, splurge on something you would normally get at home. Upgrade your transportation class. Sleep in. Spend a few days doing nothing and seeing no one. Watch a movie and get popcorn and soda. Whatever it is, remember: traveling is as much about discovering as it is about pleasure, and if it makes you feel good, even if it doesn’t feel like a “local” experience, just do it.
If it lasts more than a few days: Think of travel as a routine
You get tired of going to work, then the gym, then Thursday night happy hours, and so on, because they repeat themselves, over and over again, and hardly anything new happens. This is why most of us start traveling in the first place: to see new places, new people, eat new foods, have new experiences. One way to overcome the travel blues is to think of parts of your trip as routines, broken up by exciting events and people.
This means that deciding on where to go next, planning how to get there, packing, and considering expenses all count as the “travel routine,” but what you experience when you arrive at your destination will still be brand new and exciting. This mindset has helped me overcome some short periods of travel burn out and has reminded me why of why I started traveling in the first place.
If it lasts more than a week: Stay in one place longer than usual
This is another trick that does wonders, especially when you are longing for your own room, your own bathroom, a kitchen in which to cook your own food, privacy, and a sensation – even if superficial – of being rooted somewhere. It works especially well if, like me, you enjoy slow travel. Choose a base: a place you like or a place where you have friends.
Tending to your cravings for everyday conveniences or your homesickness makes long-term travel possible.
I establish local contacts by joining a climbing gym, participating in International Couchsurfing Meetups or Facebook events I find in the area, whether they’re clothes swaps, concerts, or language exchange sessions. Talking to hostel workers and other travelers also helps me discover people who are stationed somewhere short-term and could become my local buddies.
I also explore surrounding areas as if I were a local. This makes me feel more like I belong. During my travels, I explored the northern Cordilleras of Peru from Huaraz, visited many villages in southwest Bali while in Canggu, visited most of Basque Country while based in Pamplona, and traveled around the south of Spain while based out of Murcia. By the time I was ready to move again, I felt recharged and ready.
If it is unbearable: Go home
If the day comes to make that decision, remember that it does not have to be indefinite. If you are so homesick that it is interfering with you having fun and enjoying yourself abroad, why not buy a round trip ticket home? Spend some time with friends and family, and then go on with your journey from where you left off. A friend’s death in the mountains of Peru last year affected me so much that I wanted to quit traveling, but a month at home surrounded by family and close friends filled me with the joy I needed to keep traveling.
There’s no rule prohibiting you from going home during long-term travel. You will be surprised at how much this option helps to renew your energy and how much you will want to keep traveling after you’ve been home for a while.
How to Deal with Travel Burnout
Have you experienced travel burnout? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.
How to Deal with Travel Burnout photo credits: Clarissa C. Join Pink Pangea’s Writing, Hiking & Yoga retreats.