7 Steps To Get Over Travel Burnout
We’ve had a conversation about post-travel depression here in the past, but what about when you’re actually on the road and feeling a bit.. bleh? Have you ever had the realization that the things you used to love about traveling were only weighing you down? Have you stopped feeling inspired and excited about the places you were going and instead, don’t feel much of anything? Or you’re feeling constantly exhausted and couldn’t really care less if you were in that beautiful destination or at home? If so, you might have been experiencing something called travel burnout.
For many of us, the struggle comes when we stop traveling. The normality of life at home, the realization that nearly nothing has changed in the time you’ve been gone, can cause a lot of us who love being on the road to feel a bit blue.
We preach that travel cures everything: broken hearts, mid-life crisis, uncertainty about what to do in life, time between high school and uni, family feuds, literally any emotion you can feel equals a decent reason to travel.
What I never really realized was that sometimes, you can experience travel burnout. Yes, it happens! For some, it can happen in a matter of weeks; for others, it might take years. But chances are, you’re going to feel it at some point – especially if you ever travel solo. I’d never had that happen before and when it did, I thought I was losing my mind.
Spurred by a number of factors including being tired, boys, constantly hopping from one place to the next and spending too much time alone, I realized that I was seeing things and doing things but not really enjoying most of it. I was feeling more overwhelmed by the chaos of it all than excited.
I was going through the motions, doing things because it was what was expected in that particular place. I actually forgot why I was traveling and considered flying home. Thankfully, I have great friends who verbally slapped some sense into me, reciting back to me the words I had always told them about why I love traveling so much, why I wanted to do this and helping me remember that I didn’t actually want to go home.
Now, I’m in Peru and I feel like a new light has been ignited in my belly. I’m no longer feeling the effects of travel burnout as strongly – I am bursting with excitement for what the next few months hold and I feel like I’m just radiating happiness. So, what changed? I started focusing on a few things to help bring me back to a place where I feel at my best.
The biggest thing for me was letting myself slow down and just be. I decided to set myself up in a “home base” for the month and went on a hunt for an apartment in Cusco, Peru. I found a small, cute little apartment right next to the popular neighborhood of San Blas, shared with a woman from LA, where I could just live normally for a bit.
As much as I am a traveler, I’m also a homebody and having a sense of home, even for a short time, was enough to help me recharge and I didn’t feel the pressure of having to do something new and exciting every single day like I sometimes felt in hostels.
Go Somewhere New
On the other hand, if you’ve been stuck in one place for a long time, not really doing much of anything, get out of there! Pick up and go to a place that you’ve always been excited about. For me, I’d always wanted to visit Machu Picchu but at the same time, was not excited about moving on to Peru at all. I pushed through and got there anyways and I am SO glad I did. Spending a few days in nature and witnessing the beauty of Machu Picchu left me feeling brand new.
Focus On Your Wellness
We all have our routines at home – little things that we do each day or each week to make us feel like we’re bettering ourselves. For me, that’s journaling, meditating, yoga, cooking healthy vegetarian meals, going on brunch dates with friends, taking baths, and having an at-home fitness routine. OK, so I do a LOT of “self-care” related things at home, but many of them were hard to continue on the road.
This month has only just begun and I’ve only just started focusing on a self-care routine again but it’s already made a world of difference. Whatever you like to do to keep yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually well, make time for it.
Be Around People
For me, I was spending a lot of time alone. As a somewhat shy, introverted person, I’m usually ok with this. But after having my brother visit me in Ecuador for a week, I realized that I was craving some real, meaningful human interaction. Not speaking the Spanish language, I had gone days (dare I say, more than a week), without having a true conversation with another person. You know, one that wasn’t just the “where are you from” convo, or asking for a batido de coco at the local smoothie place.
Lucky for me, Peru has been the total opposite. I’ve run into friends that I met back in Colombia, made new ones and have been having a great balance of people-time and me-time.If this is happening to you, find people! Join a Couchsurfing meet-up, attend a local class, start putting yourself out there again in hostel common rooms.
Give Yourself Space
Being around people again helped me but maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe you’re feeling drained from constantly being around other people traveling. In that case, give yourself permission to say no, to do nothing, to give yourself space.
Splurge just a little. Get yourself a private room, go get your hair done or your beard trimmed. Enjoy a nice meal out – an actual nice meal, not just another bowl of spaghetti and pesto in the hostel kitchen.
Skype With Family and Friends
You’ll probably feel a bit more homesick than usual when you’re experiencing travel burnout. Tell your friends and family and make the time to get in touch. Skype your parents, call your grandparents, see your family pets over FaceTime, have a virtual wine and movie date with your best friend from home.
Apparently, travel burnout is a common thing, but one that I never knew about because I had never experienced it myself. Every depiction of travel from travel bloggers and photographers shows only the good side: the beautiful destinations, the luxury spots, the iconic sites, the happiness, excitement and idealistic lifestyle. I mean, travel is all of those things, too, but it’s important to talk about the other side and help each other get through it when it hits. Have you ever experienced travel burnout? What helped you cope?