When I first read about other people who talked about travel burnout I thought that would never happen to me. At no point did I feel like I’d rather be home than where I was, and I enjoyed all the things I experienced so how could I get burned out?
Well, it did. At some point my mind and body just needed to experience nothing. It took me quite a long time to realize I was burned out, so I tried to keep going, and wanted to do things, but at the same time didn’t really have the energy or the motivation to do it.
Most of the people I met were only traveling for a few months so they had to do something every single day in order to cramp as much stuff into their available time, as possible. Keeping up with that kind of schedule was not possible for me. Even though I traveled slow compared to most people, and even though I had a lot of days not doing anything, I still burned out.
When people talked about going to see a temple, and someone invited me, I said yes, but at the same time I thought, who cares about a temple anyway? It’s just a building. I realized I couldn’t care less about a temple.
The idea of taking another bus somewhere and trying to figure out where to take it from and where to stay at the next place seemed so exhausting, and really not worth the trouble. At the same time I felt like I had to, I couldn’t just lie around doing nothing, what would be the point of that? Everyone else was doing all kinds of things and arranging all kinds of events and they were getting drunk, hanging out, partying and having fun. It all seemed so exhausting and demanding to me. I felt I should be doing something. But I didn’t really want to.
I eventually found out that I was just too tired, I was filled up with experiences, at least for now, and I would scream if I had to travel anymore with slow, local transport where I couldn’t communicate with anyone only to go to a new place where I had to figure out a bunch of things. I had had enough of logistics, communication problems, which was more like communication failures, having to pack and unpack everything again. I had to stay in the same place without having to do anything about anything. I was burned out.
When I eventually gave into the reality of things and just cuddled up in my bed and start writing without feeling guilty about not exploring everything around me, now that I had the chance to do so, I started feeling so much better. Other people would love to do what I was doing, and would be all over the place, but other people hadn’t been through the 6 months of logistic and communication challenges and hadn’t been moving constantly for half a year. They would come in with new energy, trying to escape their daily life. That was just not the right way to look at it. This was how I lived my life, not about how other people lived theirs.
But this was the time when I realized how much I enjoyed writing about my experiences. Something I had never imagined, since I always hated writing anything in school. It was always a struggle when I got homework where I had to write 2 pages. On page two I would typically write with much bigger letters and make the spaces much wider in an attempt to fill out the page as fast as possible so I could go do something fun instead. Since 10th grade, at age 15-16, I never really wrote anything. But now, I was enjoying myself just lying around in my room writing all day only to go out when I was hungry. The only decisions I had to make in a day was where to go eat. It felt like I could continue doing this. Hey, this was actually awesome. If I could live like this, traveling around slowly, writing about my experiences and not have to worry about money then I would be happy. Then it didn’t matter at what pace I did things. That seemed like an excellent way to live, at least for some time, until something else would show up as a better way for me.
While giving my self plenty of time, and also considering if I should change anything about the way I traveled, I eventually got the energy and motivation back. But I would travel with less haste, more focused, and I would spend a bit more money every now and then when it made sense to do so. I would also skip some of the things I originally wanted to do or see, because they were of less importance, at this stage. Once you have seen a thousand interesting buildings, mountains, people, countries, whatever, the number 1001 would not be quite as interesting as the first one. So, quality became a lot more important than quantity.
I would never be able to see everything, and not trying to would be better for me. I don’t need to see everything in a country, and I don’t need to see every must-see sight, because frankly, some of them are really not worth it, and not what I would consider “must-see”. I asked myself, what was the most important for me. I don’t expect to see every country in the world, that is not a goal of mine, although I would love to, it’s just not a priority for me. So, since I wouldn’t be able to see everything anyway, it wouldn’t matter if I missed something that would be considered “must-see” because then I would maybe see something else that mattered more to me.
Also I found it wasn’t just about sights, but for me it was more a way of living. A way of just being. Just being in different cultures and in new environments could be rewarding, inspiring and fascinating. There was absolutely no need for me to be in physical contact with the culture all the time. Being in my hotel room to write when I felt like it, and then go out to eat and travel around when it felt right, was perfectly right. I still got a sense of the culture and the place. Besides, the essence of the matter, to me, was that I wanted to do something I enjoyed, and then it didn’t really matter what that was or how I did it. I was inspired, I was free, I could go anywhere I wanted, I could do anything I wanted, there was no need to change that. I would no longer be free if I had to do all kinds of things all the time, just because I felt like I should experience something, mildly interesting, simply because I had the chance. I had to have a passion for what I was doing, and that may change every now and then.