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Travel fatigue, it's a thing: How to prevent and fix it

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

Travel fatigue is a real thing that happens when you've been on the road too long, your itinerary is too ambitious, and/or you're physically overextended. It's being jaded by the whirlwind, and under-appreciating monumental sights and opportunities. Or it's overcommitting to a trip beyond your financial means, and being distracted by the looming burden to save money and cut costs every step of the way. Maybe it's bickering with your spouse while walking on a famous glacier (ahem), or sometimes its just generally feeling down mid-bucket list for no specific reason. It happens, and when it does, you may feel guilty, ungrateful or like your once-in-a-lifetime experience is being ruined. It's not, and it will pass with a little help from some self-awareness and intention.

Here's how to deal with travel fatigue.

  • Own it - Admit you're fatigued, irritable or moody, and refrain from reading too much into it or letting it spiral into an emotional rabbit hole. It helps curb an argument if you can just take a breath and say "I'm feeling shitty right now." It may open up a dialogue with your travel partner(s) to help you talk it out, and maybe they can relate and commiserate. If nothing else, it frees them from taking personal offense to your lame attitude.

  • Take a break - Spend an hour, afternoon or day doing something relaxing. Read, sleep in, take a nap, watch a movie, get some ice cream, find a way to laugh, recalibrate yourself. Adventure and sightseeing mode at 100% 24/7 is not sustainable for longer trips. It is not a waste of time to spend an afternoon on the couch if it's recharging your batteries and enthusiasm.

  • Pace yourself - And to build on the above, prevent burnout by keeping a realistic pace that gives you time to enjoy and soak in the journey. If you're intent on covering hundreds of miles in record time, or seeing 3 museums in a day, you're shortchanging yourself. Its all about quality here, not quantity. If that means skipping on a city to give a little breathing room to relish the destination before it, it's worth it.

  • Prioritize sleep - It's important to (try to) keep a healthy sleep regimen on the road. And its harder if you're sunrise hikers and photographers like us. Nothing kills energy and enthusiasm like sleep deprivation. And to be somewhere incredible and have one of those stress headaches from lack of sleep is the actual worst. Some people can charge through a 700-mi voyage in one day, but I am not that person. So just know yourself and your limit, and be real about what you can handle.

  • Save the best for last - I've learned and re-learned this one several times over. If you see the most amazing sight/destination at the start of the trip, everything after that is a little less impressive. It's fun to keep high anticipation throughout the journey. And if your perspective is based on the most amazing sight up front, I have a tendency to compare things thereafter to that amazing thing from day one. And that's a bummer.

As much fun as travel is, it's hard work! Like my favorite saying goes, protect your assets. Which here means your mental and physical wellness, and most importantly, your passion to explore. Take aim to design an itinerary that is mindful of how you best operate while keeping you balanced.

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