The Truth About Travel Burnout & How To Deal With It
I’m sure all of the long-term travellers on here can relate to travel burnout at some kind of level. Whether you know it by that term or something similar, like travel fatigue, travel boredom or maybe you just think you’re not that into travel anymore. Let me tell you, I hear you! Travel burnout is real and it can strike at any time.
I, myself am no stranger to this feeling and it seems that the older I get the shorter the trip I like to take. A couple of weeks ago, at our Workaway in Switzerland, I couldn’t find the time or energy to do anything after we finished work for the day. Even though Switzerland had been one of the countries I was most looking forward to.
Travel burnout can be a real problem for long-term travellers and it’s not always easy to get over. Here I will share with you the tips I use to get passed it myself.
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What is travel burnout
Travel burnout can take on many forms. The main one being a loss of interest in seeing and exploring the country you are in. If you’re the person who likes to get up early and get out exploring, you may find yourself exhausted and craving more time in bed instead. You’ll lack excitement and energy to visit places you would normally find interesting.
For the solo travellers out there, you’ll find yourself being antisocial – no longer the life of the party at the hostel. Instead, you’ll be the one who’s ecstatic to find your hostel bed has a blind. Woohoo, some privacy! Or you can be found at the most uninviting table in a corner hoping no one strikes up a conversation with you.
You’ll probably recognise the terms, ‘templed out’, ‘castled out’ or ‘Old Towned out’ depending on where you are travelling. In the end, every temple, castle or Old Town starts to look the same.
Is travel burnout a problem
Travel Blogger Emily Luxton mentions this as the ultimate first-world problem, but you know what, it still is a problem. With more people choosing to live the life they want as opposed to working for the man (Go you!) you need to recognise these feelings as something that is inevitable and definitely not a cue to give up on your dreams.
I am a huge advocate for slow travel. For reasons that I get to see the country in-depth. I love to experience the food, the culture and the customs, but even so, I experience travel burnout. Right now, I’ve never been more excited to go back to Australia and spend some very ‘unguilty’ hours doing nada, zip, nothing!
Because hello, there’s that word: guilt. No matter how hard I try to have the very necessary rest days, in the back of my mind I’m always feeling a little guilty.
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Who can get travel burnout
Anyone can get travel burnout, although it’s most common among long-term travellers. I’ve read some articles saying you only get it if you are a solo traveller or a budget traveller. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true.
When we first start travelling, we are full of excitement and new emotions. For people who don’t travel as frequently or for such long periods of time these emotions create a constant state of wonder and newness.
However, for long-term travellers, we are frequently placed in new environments and adapt quickly to our surroundings. Everything soon begins to look and feel the same. The luxuries of modern travel like GPS, map apps, booking apps and Google Translate, make travelling easy and without the previous issues that had to be overcome.
How to recognise signs of travel burnout
- You are no longer excited about your current trip or future trips
- You sleep more than usual
- There is no drive to get out of the hotel and see new things
- You are more antisocial
- You get easily agitated or irritated by people around you – things that wouldn’t normally bother you are becoming issues
- A desire to go home – you miss people and things from home
Tips for dealing with travel burnout
If you recognise the symptoms above, then you need to act on them and know that your feelings are valid. Try these tips below to get back to your normal travel-loving self.
Leave the travel guilt behind
Easier said than done, but it’s important to stop feeling guilty for having down days. Imagine life back home. You don’t do fun and exciting things after work every day do you? So you can’t expect to sustain that full-on lifestyle while overseas.
Take a step back, book a hotel room and spend the day in bed binge-watching your favourite Netflix tv series.
Stay in one place
Something I find that really helps me is to stay in one place. Moving around and living out of my backpack gets tiring really quickly. If you find yourself getting exhausted from all the movement you are doing, slow down your travels.
Each person is different as to how much time you need but start with a minimum of a week. Book an Airbnb where you can unpack your bag and enjoy some quiet nights in.
I find having a couch is a big plus. I never used to think of myself as a big couch sitter but it’s something I miss. Going from hostel bed to hostel bed or hotel room to hotel room, you tend to find yourself doing everything on a bed or on a hard chair. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit on a couch and lounge.
My personal favourite way of travelling slow and staying in one place is by doing volunteer programs like Workaway, HelpX and Worldpackers. These programs are great for budget travellers as you exchange work for accommodation and food. Check out my guide on Workaway to learn more.
Get into a normal routine
Travelling puts a lot of stress on the body. You probably aren’t eating as well as you do back home and if you’re like me your exercise routine consists of walking around a new city or going for a hike. I seriously commend all of you who can keep up your exercise routine while overseas.
So, once you have unpacked, try and get into a bit of a routine like you would back home. Trick your body into thinking you have returned home, if only for a few days.
Make sure your Airbnb (or similar) has a kitchen or cooking facilities. Pop down to the supermarket and grab a load of groceries. Putting some proper nutrients back into your body will do wonders. Have you been missing yoga or running? Make sure to add these to your daily schedule. Something that always makes me feel better is going to a local yoga studio and doing a class.
Maybe these things aren’t your ‘normal’, but do something that is. I love going to the cinema at home and have even found a lot of European countries will play English movies.
Enjoy some time to yourself
Maybe you have been travelling from hostel to hostel and are constantly surrounded by people or maybe you’re travelling with someone full time? Prior to this trip I always considered myself a very independent person, I loved spending time on my own and believe it’s important to do things by yourself sometimes.
Only now travelling full time with my boyfriend I haven’t had a day to myself in almost a year! I think this is absolutely crazy… As much as I love my boyfriend I cannot wait to have some space and take a day apart when we get back to Australia.
I know you may not be able to afford a hotel room on your own but the benefits will be totally worth it.
If you are new to Airbnb, you can use my referral link and get a $55 AUD credit for use on your first booking.
Do something different
Maybe you need the opposite of everything above. Have you have been in one place too long? Do you need to break out of your current comfort zones? Try new foods, go somewhere you don’t know the language, try a new sport or extreme activity. A little extra adrenaline is always good for the soul.
Some of the amazing experiences I have done include paragliding in Turkey, bungee jumping in New Zealand, skiing in Lake Tahoe and glacier hiking in Alaska. I always feel on top of the world after spending a day doing something like this. If you are looking for inspiration you can read my guide to adventure activities around the world. P.s. Some are for the fainter at heart.
Call or message home
Sometimes the best cure for travel burnout is to speak with loved ones. Travelling can be extremely lonely. You are surrounded people every day, but no one who really knows you. You have the same small talk conversations with each person you meet and have told the story about where you are from and why you are travelling 50 times over… this week.
After I had been travelling for a year and arrived in Fort Lauderdale to start my yachting career, I felt so alone. I called my best friend who was back in Australia one morning before work and let everything out. It was one of the most freeing experiences and afterwards, I felt so much better.
Remember why you love travelling
While travel is tiring and not always easy think about how lucky you are to be in your shoes. Why not spend an afternoon sitting in the sun and reflect on what is it about travel that you love?
Write a gratitude list of everything you have done on your current trip, upload some of your favourite photos, message some new friends and embrace how different everything is to back home.
Think about what caused you to take this trip in the first place.
If all else fails, take a break from your travels and go home
A few years ago, home was the dreaded word for me. It symbolized the end, or the failure to live the nomad life I dreamed. Now, home is something I love and am excited to go back to.
Don’t think of heading home as a bad thing, think of it as hitting the reset button. Enjoy some time with family and friends. Get a job and start saving for the next trip.
Being back in your hometown or country will quickly make you appreciate both how great home is and how lucky you are to live the life you do.
Instead of going back to the same stagnant job you left why not try something new. Maybe some of these articles will inspire you to work on a superyacht, work on an island in Australia, do a ski season or teach English in Vietnam.
Whatever you decide, remember nothing is permanent. Travel burnout is a real thing and some people get it worse than others. What helps you fix it may be the opposite for someone else.
Remember why you travel – because you want to enjoy your life. Life is about living.
Have you ever suffered from travel burnout? Leave your best tips for dealing with it in the comments below. Hit the share buttons if you think it may help someone else.