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If you read as many travel blogs as I do, you’ll start to see the term “travel burn-out” pop up from time to time. At first, I had no idea what that could possibly mean. Travel is exciting! Every day is an adventure! How on earth could you get burned out from something as stimulating as travel?
The first time I got a glimpse of travel burn-out was on my Guatemala trip. I had never traveled for more than two weeks at a time, and I crushed that record in Guatemala. What started out as a fun and interesting trip turned into a vacation I needed a vacation from.
And so I did the unimaginable.
I took an entire day and did absolutely nothing. I stayed at my hostel, mindlessly watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy while eating Doritos. I was in a beautiful location full of cultural intricacies, interesting people, and new and different attractions but I didn’t care. Eventually, I took a walk to the main square, but only to buy a hot dog — yes, a hot dog — for dinner.
The next day, revitalized, I went back to my usual travel style: hiking in the middle of nowhere, getting off-the-beaten-path, and generally following my 100-meter rule. A few days later, I committed to another local homestay and I was good to go for the next leg of my trip.
I learned a lot from that experience.
Even though I love exploring new places and learning about new cultures, it’s important to recognize that travel can be mentally tiring. Busy days and long bus rides are physically draining. Being away from the comforts of home and your family is difficult and there’s no shame in admitting you need a break.
It’s important to embrace local culture but craving normalcy doesn’t make you a bad traveler. Tweet this.
We all travel differently
My idea of a perfect trip won’t be the same as yours. The amount of “new and different” that I crave is probably different than yours. We all need familiarity to varying degrees. That’s okay.
For me, I’ve learned that I need a chain hotel every once in awhile. I want it the most after an overnight flight when I’m jetlagged and exhausted from pulling an all-nighter. I know how to check in at a Hilton hotel and I know the pillows will meet a certain standard. I’m willing to compromise on comfort later in the trip for a local experience, but not when I’m already feeling grouchy.
And yes, I’ll always think American-style coffee is better than any other version and will pay for the privilege of drinking it.
Every trip is different
If I’m going to Canada for a week, I can rough it. There’s not much culture shock there, so I have the mental energy to go sightDOING from sunrise to sundown. There’s more adrenaline and excitement to pump me through.
The minute I hit Egypt, though, I need time to decompress. That can be as simple as an hour of air-conditioning and checking my emails on my laptop. Maybe it means a full day at the resort pool for every five days of exploring. What I do know is the longer I travel for, the more breaks I need to add in. My Energizer Bunny status starts to wear thin after about 10 days.
Like anything else, travel is about balance
Step out of your comfort zone to try new things and experience a new way of life, but don’t expect to keep that up 24/7. If you’re having a tough day, go hang out at the tourist bar for an hour instead of butchering the local language. It’s okay to give in every once in awhile so long as you’re open to broadening your horizons at other points on the trip.
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Do you give in to your cravings while traveling? What guilty pleasures re-energize you along the way? Share your stories in the comments!
6 thoughts on “The Truth About How I Travel”
I love this post. And I totally get the “travel burnt-out” . My girlfriend and I don’t travel full-time yet, but there’s occasions where we just want to have “lazy days”. It’s pretty much what you said, watch TV and eat.
By the way, I like your blog very much. I just found it.
@Angel, Thanks very much for leaving a comment! I’ve enjoyed taking breaks even on shorter trips — an hour or two on a week-long trip can actually make a big difference.
I usually only travel for 2-4 days at a time (I have almost no vacation time) but I still feel burnt out afterwards, especially since I’m trying to cram so many things into each day! I’ve learned that the day I get back, I need a night to zone out alone, watch TV and go to bed early after I get home from work. Also, this type of hectic travel style has me realizing that the sim card is always worth it (so I can access GPS/travel guides on the go) and staying at an upscale hostel or modern hotel is definitely preferred!
@Anna, I agree that it has more to do with HOW you travel than how long you travel. Sounds like you’ve figured out a good balance!
Can I share our new found cravings? It’s Indian food. Back when we lived in India, we would go abroad and be super excited about trying every new foreign cuisine. Now after a few days, we check if there’s a well rated Indian restaurant and pig out at least once during the trip! As vegetarians there’s only this much pizzas and pastas that we can deal with. that said, we would not exchange local cuisine for anything else but a few days into the groove, we know we want to hunt for something Indian. And surprisingly, these Indian restaurants have been quite good! Totally understand where you’re coming from. Must be signs of traveling too much — Supriya
@Supriya, I am the EXACT same way — definitely crave certain flavors after awhile (usually it’s vegetables – restaurants are heavy on the carbs which is very different from how I eat at home). Glad you’ve figured out how to get your taste of home 🙂