Traveling is a gift. One that we’re blessed to have. But sometimes we feel less than blessed and more…well, fed up with the whole thing, to be perfectly honest.
If you’ve been on the road for a few months, the towns can start to blend into one. The sights seem less impressive, the food less exciting, the locals less friendly. Suddenly, you go from being the chatty, story-sharing person at the hostel to the one whose face is fixed resolutely at their laptop screen, fit to explode if one more person asks you where you’re from.
Welcome to Traveler’s Fatigue. Population: More than you think.
We’ve all been there. Look around your fellow travelers and half of them are probably going through the same thing. Because this nomadic lifestyle ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s tiring, taxing and tedious for a pretty hefty chunk of the time. And when traveler’s fatigue sets in, it gets harder and harder to pick out those glorious moments – the moments you left home for – from all the overnight buses, dodgy stomachs and nightmarish lodgings that you’ve had to put up with.
So here are my top 3 ways to avoiding a case of it in the first place:
1. Stay Still
Ok, you might think that this goes against the whole idea of travel in the first place. But shouldn’t it also be about taking time to get a true feel of a place, rather than just ticking destinations off?
Traveler’s fatigue often kicks in when we move around too much. Because in the stress of deciding where to go next – before you’ve even stopped to appreciate where you are – the novelty wears off, fast.
Just imagine, having 2 weeks or longer in one spot without having to plan your next bus or train out. Or packing your bag and lugging it around in search of accommodation. Instead, chilling out in your new ‘home’, having time to lounge in roadside cafes, watching the world go by without any concrete plans for the day…bliss.
Oh, and you if have a couple of months to spend in one place, other benefits will stack up, too. You might get a cheap room to rent, saving you lots of accommodation. You’ll get to know the area more; where the best local food can be found, for instance, and maybe even start to make friends with the people who hang out there.
You’ll also notice that with more routine and less moving around, you’ll start to sleep a whole lot better. Sleep deprivation has all kinds of negative effects, which are particularly nasty if you’re traveling, and can make your traveler’s fatigue a whole lot worse. But more on that later…
2. Give Back
One of the pros of travel is that you’ve no routine whatsoever. Every day is a weekend.
Of course, this can also be a con. Because all that freedom can actually be pretty exhausting! With no goals to set and nothing to fill your day except thoughts of where you’ll eat later, each hour that you wile away can seem longer and more monotonous than the last.
Suddenly it becomes hard to get motivated about anything; that perfect sunset, that pristine beach – none of it seems as rewarding if you haven’t been working up to it.
Now I’m not saying that you need to turn your holiday into a stressful work zone. That’s probably what you left behind, after all! But your appreciation for travel can be renewed if you volunteer somewhere for a stretch of time. You’re getting the benefits of stopping still – which we’ve already talked about – plus, you’ll get a sense of purpose, a reason to be in a place. You’ll actually feel needed. Yay!
There are lots of ways in which you can volunteer. Checking local jobs boards is one. Workaway is another. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an online platform that puts you in touch with people who need your help overseas; you simply find opportunities that suit your skillset in the places you want to go. Usually, both food and accommodation will be covered in return for your work, and your help may only be needed for a couple of hours a day.
Meanwhile, you’ll be contributing to a cause while meeting local people and learning about the culture, too. Wanderlust: 1, Traveler’s Fatigue: 0!
3. Sleep Well
Back to the sleeping thing. It may surprise you but a lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, is pretty much the main reason why we feel down when traveling. We’re often up at the crack of dawn after a crappy night’s ‘rest’, expected to find our way to the next place and to deal with sweaty transport, language barriers and pushy touts en route. When all we want to do is curl up in a duvet and snore our woes away.
Of course, it isn’t easy to get a decent night’s sleep when traveling. But using an eyemask and earplugs can make a massive difference. As can treating yourself to a nice hotel room once in a while. Because, as we all know, a night’s sleep in a dorm is about as effective as a chocolate teapot. Not very. And far less tasty.
For more tips on getting a proper snooze on, whether you’re at home or away, see what the sleep experts have to say. Once you learn how to become more rested on the road, your energy will improve and you can say goodbye to all sorts of fatigue.
So keep traveler’s fatigue at bay – and get bitten by the travel bug instead.