Travel Fatigue and How to Avoid It

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It sounds ridiculous, right? Travel fatigue? I can already hear many people groaning and saying, “Oh, cry me a river. I’d love to travel as much as you get to!”

And, I don’t necessarily disagree. Full-time travelers are fortunate.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t negative aspects to this lifestyle. There are pros and cons to everything in life, and travel is no different.

In fact, as a traveler, you begin to feel guilty.

I’m in Rome. How can I sit in my room and binge-watch all nine episodes of Squid Game?!

But, the thought of getting up and going outside, to wander the streets and interact with people, to take in the sights and sounds; it makes you tired just thinking about it.

There’s no reason to feel guilty, though. Pushing yourself day after day will catch up to you, and travel fatigue is bound to set in.

So, let’s dive into exactly what it is.

What is travel fatigue?

Travel fatigue is the exhaustion or lack of motivation that a traveler feels after having the pedal down for weeks.

Famous landmark three hours away? I’ve gotta see it. Hostel friends going out for the seventh night in a row? Count me in. Did you say a hike to the top of a mountain, then an afternoon skydiving? Who would pass that up?

The body is incredible, but it’s only going to tolerate being pushed to its limits for so long.

Pushed to the limits? The activities you named are leisure activities, you may be saying. And you’re correct, but travel in and of itself is an exhausting experience.

The daily act of navigating a foreign culture, handling an unknown language, as well as getting in/on cars, trains, buses, and planes will slowly deplete your battery.

And, as any experienced traveler will tell you, simple tasks are rarely simple when you’re in an unfamiliar place.

In addition, the crazy travel schedules that come with planes, trains, and buses are just the cherry on top of the travel sundae. And your body was finished eating before the dessert course.

Rarely will your body get proper rest. Studies have shown your brain doesn’t enjoy being in an unfamiliar area when sleeping. As a result, you don’t fall into a fully restful sleep. Now compound this multiple times over as you skip from place to place.

Dolphins do the same thing, in fact. They keep one hemisphere of their brain awake while sleeping, except they don’t have a flight in three hours and then a five-hour bus ride. They’ve just got some fish to catch and movies to star in.

But there are ways to ward off travel fatigue and keep yourself fresh—mentally and physically.

So, what do you do about travel fatigue?

As you travel, you learn more about yourself and how your body reacts to it. This won’t be the same for everyone. Some people can travel for months on end and feel no ill effects. Others travel for five days, and they’re ready to collapse on the floor.

However, when travel fatigue sets in, there are ways to cope with it to help you get back out the door.

Schedule longer stays

If you’re moving at a fast pace, hopping from country to country, it’s a matter of time before you’re going to feel the effects of travel fatigue.

The constant go, go, go of travel pulls from your body’s energy levels and increases its weariness.

When you’re beginning to feel travel fatigue set in, it’s a good idea to schedule a more extended stay somewhere.

Rest and relaxation are key to combat travel fatigue
Maybe a little R&R is in order when you feel travel fatigue set in.

Slow your pace down, and let your body recover. It may just need a few days to slow down and recuperate, then you can get right back to jetting off again with a fresh brain and body.

If a particular place abroad feels more comfortable to you, then scheduling time there would be a great idea. The comfortability will let your body fully relax, get proper sleep, and will have you feeling as fresh as a new haircut.

Focus on getting better sleep

Countless people say sleep is a waste of time, and they will skimp on it to experience more travel or just life in general.

But, humans sleep for a reason. Think of it as an iPhone. Try watching a video, playing a game, and having a video call all at once without charging and see how long your battery lasts.

Well, travel is the activities on your phone, and sleep is your charger. Plug in occasionally.

Sleep is the opportunity for the body to relax and ultimately repair. Whether it’s mentally, physically, or emotionally.

Go too long on a small amount? Illnesses, injuries, brain fog; these don’t appear out of nowhere. It’s your body’s way of slowing you down.

If you’re feeling a bit of travel fatigue set in, it’s not a bad idea to schedule some time for yourself to simply rest.

Eat properly and exercise

Let’s be honest. As kids, we can eat McDonald’s, candy, and other unhealthy foods for days on end, and it seems there are no adverse effects.

However, part of growing up is realizing what you put into your body will determine what you get out of it. And a five-day streak of cheeseburgers might not be the best idea.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional snack or comfort food. But it’s essential to fuel your body correctly to help it deal with the stresses from travel.

Exercise will be just as significant. Keeping your body in shape is crucial during travel. You spend a lot of time sitting and putting your body through wild changes in environment.

You don’t have to hit the gym for a beast workout or run 50 miles. A simple walk or short exercise will be enough.

Always remember, a short exercise session is better than no exercise. Treat your body right, and it’ll return the favor.

Ignore the fear of missing out

I’ve written about FOMO with running. However, it’s just as challenging to deal with when traveling.

Think of travel influencers. They’re posting pictures with miraculous views, then jetting off to a new place. And you start to feel like you’re not on their level.

You don’t feel like a true traveler, at least not like them. You feel fake.

This causes you to push yourself and your travels. 10 countries in two weeks? That sounds doable. But is that what you’re looking for? For some people, the answer is yes. For many, absolutely not.

Everyone’s different, as are their goals with travel.

You have to remind yourself that this is your experience, not theirs. A surefire way to regret your travel choices is to choose to do things based on how others will view them.

Travel at your pace, and ignore everything else. Our lives posted on social media are rarely representative of the experiences we’re having on the ground.

We post the best moments, not the moments we’re bent over a toilet and expelling our dinner contents into it.

Don’t let outside influences dictate your travel plans.

Schedule some time for familiar things

As travelers, we go out seeking the unfamiliar. We want to find the things that are different from us, our lives, and everything we know. We want to learn something from this experience. That’s what makes travel great.

But that’s also what helps travel fatigue set in. As mentioned above, your brain is taking in new things constantly. And it’s a lot for it to handle.

Family time might be just what you need to get your enthusiasm back.

So take some time to schedule more of the familiar. This will vary from person to person. Maybe it’s food that reminds you of home, one that you grew up eating. Or perhaps it’s a long video call with your family and joking around as if you were sitting in the living room with them.

The familiar eases our brain and lets it take a much-needed break.

Conclusion

Travel is one of the most remarkable experiences, in my opinion, and it’s something I think everyone should experience and benefit from. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to come with its own set of challenges and problems.

It’s essential to listen to your body and give it what it needs. By doing this, you can ward off travel fatigue and keep your body going so you can experience a country to its fullest extent.


2 thoughts on “Travel Fatigue and How to Avoid It”

  1. I can relate to trying to do too much in too little of time. That’s why I like taking at least a couple of weeks to stay in a place if possible! It’s nice to be semi-retired / retired and be able to live this kind of lifestyle. Keep posting Kyle, you have really good content!

    1. I applaud you for still traveling as hard as you do, Jay! I’m hoping I still have the enthusiasm and energy that you do when I’m older. Looking forward to meeting up with you again somewhere in the world.

      Thanks for the comment and nice words!

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