What is travel burnout, and what causes it?
I will never get burned out by traveling you may say. I could travel all my life if I had the chance.
But no, you will burnout eventually. Fortunately, you will also get past it.
Traveling independently is hard work. That may sound crazy to some, but the nice pictures and the exotic locations does not give the full picture. Traveling in countries where every simple thing we are used to do automatically back home suddenly becomes complicated and problematic.
When you cannot communicate with anyone and have to figure out how to get to your next destination, but end up in a wrong bus or train and have to go back again because of miscommunication (if any communication at all). When you have to figure out where you can sleep, have to navigate touts and scams and watch out for thieves and pick pockets. When you have to figure out everything before it gets dark, because you happen to be a foreigner/tourist and therefore are assumed rich and an easy target. When you don’t know the way to your next accommodation, or if they even have a room for you. Meeting new people daily but never for long and sometimes no one to speak to for weeks, then nothing is ever routine.
Nothing is ever automatic and everything forces you to be on top of the situation, be aware and be proactive. Eventually it will wear you out. Traveling in countries where this is something you have to deal with on a regular, perhaps even daily, basis, is taxing for both the mind and body. It can be stressful for extended durations and that is what it is.
Now, of course these things are also part of the excitement and the adventure, but it’s still stressful nevertheless. When moving around long enough, the body eventually needs rest. Just like with anything else, after too much of something you eventually need a break.
Travel burnout is stress. Too many inputs, too much going on, too much movement, too much logistics and problem solving.
How to Prevent Travel Burnout
Traveling independently long term is hard work despite what one may envision it to be like. So eventually it will happen. However, there are some things you can do to prevent it from happening, or at least prolong it. To completely avoid it; don’t travel! But I guess that’s not really a viable option.
Don’t try to keep up with the short term travelers, they have a completely different mindset, a completely different way of traveling, and will not have to keep up the intense itinerary for very long.
If you travel fast for whatever reason or even if you travel slow, take a break for a while. Before you exhaust yourself, stay in a place you like for a couple of weeks or a month or more. You have time anyway, there is no need to go to 19 countries in 9 days. Beside, slow travel is cheaper and can keep you going for longer.
Go on Tours
Sometimes it might be worth spending some extra money on a tour and enjoy not having to figure out how to cross a country by a complicated public transport network when you don’t speak the language and they don’t speak yours. Making things easy for yourself when it makes sense to spend the extra money and the tour is acceptable for the price. Personally I don’t like tours much, but there are times where it can turn out to be worth spending a bit extra. Sometimes it can even be cheaper.
Travel with a Group
Hook up with other people who want to do the same thing as you. It can lessen some of the practical stuff you have to figure out on your own. Perhaps they already got it all planned out or you may only have to do some of the “work”.
Book Accommodation online
Find a nice, cheap place online before going somewhere new. Especially if you’ve had a long trip or arrive late.
Book Transportation at Your Hostel
Arrange pickup before arriving in a new city or airport. That way you don’t have to worry about scams or your belongings upon arrival.