25th March 2014
If you have ever spent more than a few days on the road, then no doubt you have dealt with travel exhaustion of one type or the other. As I wind down my fifteen day tour of Kerala, I am reminded of just how important rest is to the traveler.
Can you remember when you visited somewhere and you were exhausted? Is your memory of that place a fond one? My guess would be probably not. Why spend the time and money to travel halfway around the world only to be miserable once you get there? Here are some of my tips to deal with travel exhaustion.
Unless you are going to sit on a beach for a week, chances are that you will be exerting yourself more than normal on both a physical and mental level. The sites and sounds of a new place can be exciting, but they also can be mentally draining. Touring a new and exotic place also involves a lot of walking. Without rest, you will begin to break down.
The length and number of breaks is largely dependent on your itinerary. When we were living on the road during our family around the world trip, I tried to plan a break every 3-4 days. While this might seem excessive, remember that living on the road is a very different lifestyle than vacation traveling. During our eighteen month trip, we also took two one month breaks to learn about the local culture while building our energy back up.
Most people don’t travel for eighteen months, but rest is needed on shorter trips as well. For a two week trip, I often find one day of rest and relaxation in the middle is enough. Every person or family will have their own unique dynamic, but everyone needs some sort of rest.
I used to be the person who was going all of the time because of my excitement for travel. My energy was seemingly endless and when I was tired, adrenaline carried me through. Today I am often just as excited, but I have learned to slow down quite a lot. Maybe it is the fact that I am getting older, but more likely it is just a change brought on by experience.
Back when I began traveling, I thought that I had to see everything. Now that I have been traveling extensively for so many years, I am able to find deeper satisfaction and enrichment by doing less. I never visit a place and treat it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. I always try to see the sites of most interest to me, but have the belief that I can and will return when and if I want to.
Comfort is one of the most important things to seek out when traveling. This doesn’t mean that you should stay in luxury five star hotels. (Although if that is your thing then go for it!) Comfort is something that is uniquely defined for everyone. For some people basic amenities and good conversation at hostels is preferred, while other people want to be pampered at every moment.
It is impossible to recharge your batteries without comfort. I have stayed in so many uncomfortable and dirty hotels/hostels/guesthouses/pensions/ratholes just because they are cheaper. While this strategy is alright in a pinch and sometimes helpful to use for awhile, you will eventually need a comfortable space or you will burn out.
When we were living on the road, certain rooms just felt like home. If we found a place that felt just right, often times we would stay there for awhile. In Bangkok we stayed at the A-One Inn, a budget hotel with rooms just big enough to fit the bed. The place went for around $15 per night and the three of us were tightly packed on a queen sized bed, but it felt like home. We stayed there during each of our three visits to Bangkok & I would stay there again.
Comfort can also come from choosing the right shoes, making sure your clothing is appropriate for travel and taking the right luggage. The choices for all of these things are different for everyone, but you will quickly learn what you like and don’t like. Listen to yourself.
This one seems a little out of place, but I have seen so many good trips turn bad because of personality clashes. Make sure that the person you are going to travel with is compatible with you. If not, you will spend your entire trip bickering and the resentments formed will not only spoil your memories from the trip, but will also loom over your friendship as well.
When I visited the Eiffel Tower for the first time, it was sunset on a cool September evening. The wind was blowing through my hair and the city’s mostly white lights began to dominate our view as nature’s light dropped away. Visiting the Eiffel Tower was the realization of a lifelong dream. There I was with my wife and son, visiting a bucket list destination and it was MAGICAL.
Having a connection to your travels will fulfill you in deep and profound ways and thus help to keep you engaged and energized. This is something that so many people fail to do. Don’t forget to put the camera down for a second to narrate the experience out loud in your head. Believe me, it works!
Getting rest is so important in life. When you are traveling it isn’t any different. In fact, travel is more taxing in so many ways. It is also important to realize that a tired traveler is an unhealthy and disconnected one. In my opinion a disconnected traveler might as well stay home!
It is now time for me to take my own advice! Two days off to rest should do it!