travel tips: how to deal with traveler’s fatigue

For the second time in my life, I’ve been having traveler’s fatigue. This is not a nice thing to happen to you, but it will almost inevitably happen to pretty much anyone who’s traveling, whether it’s for one or two weeks, of for several months.

For those who don’t know, traveler’s fatigue is a phenomenon where essentially everything catches up with you, and you don’t feel like traveling anymore. Your feet hurt, you have no interest in yet another castle or temple, you don’t want to sleep in yet another hotel, and basically all you want is to just sit down and sleep and do nothing. Which is when the guilttrip kicks in because there’s so much to do and see and you’re missing it all.

So yeah, getting to that point isn’t fun.

I’ve been having this, and today kind of reached a peak point. I suspect, looking back on things, that I’ve essentially been crashing down straight to this for a week or so, but no point in dwelling on that now.

But don’t worry if you get it! Let me give you some tips on how to deal with it that have worked for me.

1: it’s okay to not be outside for 15 hours a day, but instead spending an evening in your hotel room.

No really. The most important part of traveler’s fatigue is that you relax and get rest. Most of the time, wanting too much in too little time is the most important cause of traveler’s fatigue. There is just no way your body and mind can actually keep up. Be okay with missing some things, remember you can’t possibly see and do everything in your stay anyway, and make the most of what you do see and do. Remember that not even the locals get to do everything there is to do, because there’s just too much. Besides, this gives you reason to come back again another time.

2. Relax

Find whatever works for you to relax. For me, it works to revel in comfort for a day: no big plans, just sitting at a Starbucks for a couple of hours with a book and one or several cups of tea. Eat your favourite food, splurge on things you don’t strictly need, go around making photographs of random things. You can also get a massage or go to a spa or take a walk in a park or forest. The important part is the lack of obligations, even to yourself. These things are also stories and experiences!

3. Listen to your body

If your legs start aching the moment you step out of your hotel’s door, that might be a good sign to take some rest. For me, I had some very clear signs the past week: I was grumpy, nauseous, my legs hurt, my feet hurt, I’ve lost all appetite, didn’t feel like eating anything, didn’t feel like going anywhere. As a result, I ended up not enjoying where I was going, and wandering around because I felt I had to. Avoid that. Really. Make sure you rest regularly, eat healthy (and regularly), nd tru to keep up eith your normal diet. Stomachs don’t often appreciate a sudden switch in diet. It can be difficult when abroad, and I definitely recommend trying new foods, but keep things in your diet you eat at home as well. It can cause extra, often unnecessary, stress otherwise. Which brings me to my next point.

4. Food

Comfort food is called comfort food for a reason. Use it. If you’re not feeling up to par, find comfort food. It’s okay to indulge once in a while, and not everything has to be new and exciting all the time.

5. Remember that this is your trip, and you don’t owe anyone anything.

That includes sightseeing and food and generally everything. Remember that just because people tell you you should check out this place or eat that local food, does not mean you actually have to. Your trip, your rules. Don’t feel forced to do anything. This links back to the “you can’t see everything there is” and “listen to your body” points, which is why I probably sound repetitive: this is important, okay guys? If you don’t feel like seeing a particular castle, even if it’s the biggest and prettiest in the world, you don’t have to go and see it. Chances are I missed loads of things on this trip, but instead I got to spend time with (newfound) friends or books, and that’s worth a lot, too. If you want to go to a mall to the shops you have in your hometown as well, go there. Whatever you buy will still be a souvenir, and probably a much better one than that overpriced, crappy, useless one from a souvenir stall anyway.

So in summary: take rest, remember you can’t see everything, do what you feel like doing, no matter how silly, but above all: remember that traveler’s fatigue is fixable and shouldn’t ruin your trip. Don’t let it.

(I’m doing much better myself as well. Aside from a blister on the sole of my foot, I feel much more ready to face tomorrow.)

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