Travel Burnout: What is it and How Can You Deal with it?

So you have been traveling long-term around the world. You have come across various museums, quaint streets, pristine oceans, lush hills, and coffee shops. All of those are things that you expect to see during your travels. But one day, all of the excitement started to fade, and those beautiful seascapes, the scent of the ocean, and the nice attractions do not impress you anymore. Exploring the neighborhood sounds like a chore. You spend more time lounging on your bed or, the hostel’s couch, and you start feeling drained. You prefer talking to your friends and family back home than exploring new places. There are loads to visit in the city, but you just do not feel like checking them out anymore.

The disappearance of the feeling of excitement is the first sign of travel burnout. If not managed well, it may cause frustration and even anger over unexpected issues on the road.

I have had travel burnout several times during my travels.

I once stayed in the hostel lounge area all morning just to watch Netflix and talk to my friends on Facebook. I still remember this one volunteer at the hostel looking at me baffled; and then said, “Go to the beach!” I had already been to the same beach five days in a row and felt a need to take a break.

The only thing I did that day was to have lunch out in the neighborhood. I had left the harsh winter climate of Canada at the end of December for the tropical, balmy Cancun. I was in Cancun, for heaven’s sake, while my friends were battling ice storm and blackouts in East Canada during the Christmas holidays.

However, I accept what I felt at that moment. I did not push myself to bum at the beach. I did not create a follow-up list for how I would make up for the day I stayed at the hostel. The next day I went to the same beach with a group of new friends. We stayed on the beach from 10am to 4pm, and we had a great time and a great laugh. Wondering how I pulled it off? Here are some tips.

Dealing with travel burnout

Acknowledge your burnout feelings

The first time travel burnout hits, your first thought might be to get over it; otherwise you will feel guilty. While most people dream of traveling around the world, you are not excited about hitting the road anymore, and that makes you scratch your head and wonder how this even happened.

In fact, you are not alone. Travel burnout happens to almost everyone who travels for an extended period of time. If you do the same thing for too long, you will eventually get sick and tired of it, regardless of what that thing is. If you are constantly traveling, you will get exhausted. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that you hit the burnout point.

Slow Down

Too often, travel becomes collecting passport stamps, checking off bucket lists, and darting from place to place. A good piece of advice is to slow down and give yourself time to settle and explore a new place. Cramming too much into a short time drains your energy. I would rather spend days or even weeks just getting to know a place rather, than moving around several countries.

Do something

Actively participating in local activities will alleviate the burnout. Something as simple as getting a job, finding some volunteer work, taking language or dance classes, or going to local meetups allows you to connect with locals and other travelers and also to have fun. My most memorable experiences have been when I blended into a new place by doing something, like volunteering in Hawaii, dancing salsa in Toronto, and doing a French immersion in the city of Quebec. I was living as a local, connecting with people, and not feeling like a traveler.

Splurge

One of the most effective ways to pull yourself out of a travel burnout is to splurge a bit. Treat yourself to a nice meal at a nice restaurant, or check yourself into a luxury hotel. Three weeks into my one-month train trip on the mainland USA, I spent two nights at the Hilton Hotel in San Jose; it cost me my entire accommodation budget for the week, but I did not mind. It felt refreshing to have my own room with two queen-sized beds, pressurized showers, and a hot waffle breakfast buffet, and that banished my exhaustion from sleeping on the train and at the hostel over the previous three weeks. I have been obsessed with waffles and craving hot breakfast ever since

Read a book, go to the café, or simply sit on the street to relax

Reading a book at a café, writing in your journal, or simply people watching (not in a creepy way) on the street helps you to gain a different perspective of the local environment and your travels. During my last two days in Mexico, DF, I spent hours around lunchtime sitting in front of my favorite place, Bellas Artes, just people watching and talking to locals. You will be amazed at what you find out by watching people and vehicles passing by, and that will help you develop exceptional observation skills.

Start moving

If you have been staying in the same place for a long time, simply choose a new location and start traveling. It is amazing how a change of scenery and culture can rekindle your curiosity and excitement.

Stay put

Stay at your accommodation and take care of chores and work. In Vancouver I had a day where I just stayed at the hostel and wrote my destination features, talked to my family and friends, and finished my laundry. I think the key to preventing burnout is giving yourself a break and doing what you are supposed to do if you were not traveling. Believe me, the next day I was too crazy to stay at the hostel again. I could not wait to explore the city.

Have you experienced travel burnout? How did you overcome it? Comment below

Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

7 thoughts on “Travel Burnout: What is it and How Can You Deal with it?

  • October 1, 2016 at 6:29 am
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    I really agree with the “stay put” suggestion especially since we travel with our son. Having break for a day (or sometimes two) really does wonders for recharging travel batteries!

    Reply
    • October 1, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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      Travel with kids involves more tasks and energy. Have fun and it is great you got time to recharge.

      Reply
  • October 1, 2016 at 10:15 am
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    Oh, wow, great post. I definitely have my share of travel burn outs. Actually this past week! It’s because I’m flying from one place (Australia) to the next (Nepal). It just feels weird that after ten months away, I’m not going to fly home, but to a new destination!

    Thanks for the tips and I’ll definitely keep it in mind.

    Reply
    • October 1, 2016 at 10:03 pm
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      Thanks Lisanne. I am glad these tips are useful to you. Ten months is a long time! Have fun in Nepal.

      Reply
  • October 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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    This is some great advice all of which I can relate to even though I am still to experience a travel burnout!

    Reply
  • October 8, 2016 at 4:26 am
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    Great tips, Julie! I am on the move all the time to see my children and holiday with them in 4 different countries, and I must say, it can become quite hectic getting visas, and flying around a lot.

    Reply
    • October 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm
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      Travel with children requires more energy as they are usually excited and easy to get bored. The visa process can get ugly if you travel in a group too.

      Reply

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