Our first night in Hvar was one of the few nights left of our short, two-week trip, and I was staying in. This behavior, I should explain, is atypical for me. Especially since I found myself on an island filled with rich Europeans and a nightclub (Veneranda) in the ruins of an ancient monastery.
However, reality had hit me like a brick wall. We were on our fourth city in under two weeks and had been on the go constantly. I found myself completely exhausted and racked with a summer cold. My night of taking it easy may have been forced, but it was still much needed and quite effective. At some point, every vagabond gets tired of traveling. The following are the best strategies to deal with your travel burnout.
If you’re feeling road-weary, get off the road. The biggest hassle and most stressful part of traveling is the traveling: idle time and delays in airports, long flights and train rides, and even planning your transportation when you don’t speak the language. Avoid these issues by hunkering down in one location, even if only for a few days.
When you’re not constantly on the move, you can gain a better perspective on your current location and downshift into a more leisurely lifestyle instead of sprinting to catch that next train.
Slow down the pace of your life, not just your travel schedule. Instead of covering an entire city on foot and seeing a half-dozen sights in one day, spread your itinerary over a week. If you try to speed up an experience to a breakneck pace, you won’t learn anything that you couldn’t read in a guidebook.
Go about your day mindfully, and you’ll start to pick up on the little details that can endear you to a new city. This attentiveness will help you get a true feel for a place. You’ll leave with a much better understanding of what makes a city unique, aside from the statues and buildings on everyone else’s checklists.
Maybe the partying backpacker lifestyle, not traveling, has you down. In that case, escape the mentality of a backpacker for a few days. Instead of getting hammersmashed (that’s hammered and smashed) on yet another pub crawl, stay in and read or get to know your fellow travelers in a more relaxed setting. Staying in can give you the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t have met on the bar and club circuit. They’re often even more interesting and have better stories, which don’t involve vomiting.
Much as the partying lifestyle can wear one down, so can the frugality of long-term travel. Some hostels have terribly uncomfortable beds and some don’t have hot water. Plus, you can only eat Cup Noodles for dinner so many times.
Taking a day to pamper yourself can be refreshing and can completely reset all of the frustration that’s been building up inside of you. Depending on your tastes, you can:
- Leave the hostel and spend a night or two in a nice hotel with fluffy beds and maid service included
- Indulge in a fancy (or just big) dinner at a real restaurant, not just a shack on the street
- Relax with a day at the spa, baths, or hot springs
Depending on where you’re at, dinner at a restaurant, a trip to the baths, or a massage can be a relatively cheap way to melt away your “problems.”
Reconnecting with loved ones back home or abroad can also help you beat the travel blues. Regardless of how much fun you’re having, you may still miss the people who are not there experiencing everything with you. Thankfully, you can easily contact them through email, Facebook, or, my personal favorite, Skype.
Talking to your friends and family not only helps conquer homesickness but also is a great reminder of how lucky you are. How often have you talked to someone back home while traveling and they told you how jealous they are of you? When surrounded by other backpackers, we often get caught up in the minor irritations of traveling instead of looking at the big picture and appreciating the incredible journey we’re experiencing.
If you’ve tried your best and are stil unhappy on the road (and not just in one place), don’t be ashamed to cut your trip short. Remember, you’re traveling for you. If you’re not happy, change your circumstances. You’re not traveling to live up to someone else’s expectations. No one can fault you for doing what makes you happy. Just take care of any obligations you have, like working or volunteering, then live to fight (or travel) another day.
Have you experienced travel fatigue while on the road? Tell us about it and how you conquered it in the comments.