Travel Fatigue — Causes, Consequences and Cures

Chance is you never exper­i­enced what I call travel fatigue (and I don’t mean jet lag). And that would be a good thing, believe me. Accord­ing to the ticker on my front page I have been trav­el­ling just short of 600 days, or a bit more than 19 months. This is a long time to be away from friends, fam­ily and your nor­mal surroundings.

What is it?

Travel fatigue goes a bit bey­ond being home­sick. Hav­ing to con­stantly take in new exper­i­ences, new cul­tures, new people and a new envir­on­ment can just be a mis­sion some­times, when all you actu­ally want is some com­fort food, your own room with a TV and a DVD player and a key to lock your front door. Pretty hard when you stay in dorm rooms, where your bed neigh­bours change on a daily basis and people come and go as they please at all times dur­ing the day/night.

What are the effects?

As a con­sequence I feel com­pletely unmo­tiv­ated to do any­thing, like write blog posts, go out on day trips or even talk to people. You could say I have a mild case of travel-related depres­sion. I find myself sleep­ing long into the day, stay­ing up long past mid­night and bury­ing myself in work. Some­times I only go to bed at five in the morn­ing. I do this so I have some time on my own (well almost) and some peace and quiet.

What can you do about it?

I know what you’re think­ing. Why doesn’t he just go home, if he doesn’t like it any­more? The thing is that I know I do not want to go back home just yet. In my case, I think, going home would just about accom­plish noth­ing. Never go home if you know for sure that you don’t want to. I still love trav­el­ling, but at the moment I don’t want change. I want sta­bil­ity and a con­stant routine. I just want to live some­hwere for a while and not travel around.

There are a few things you can do if you get hit by travel fatigue:

  • Instead of going home rent your­self a room some­where for a month or two. That way you can get some kind of routine back into your life.
  • Find some­thing to do. Chance is, if you’re trav­el­ling long term, that you have some kind of skills that allow you to earn money on the road. Get your­self a job. This will struc­ture your life even more.
  • Make the effort to go out and make some friends in the expat com­munity. There are expats even in the most unlikely places and see­ing famil­iar faces will help you find your travel feet again.
  • Don’t be hasty. Take as much time as you need. Only once you’re ready to head back out into the wild again, do so!
  • Don’t close your­self off and keep an open mind. Some­times, even if you don’t feel like it ini­tially, you can have a great time by just say­ing yes, when asked by fel­low trav­el­lers to come out for a drink or two or go see a temple or something.

What will I do?

In my case I will have to wait until I get to India to do some­thing about my travel fatigue (although New Years Eve gave me a big boost). I am in KL at the moment and work on a few web pages. These might turn into quite big pro­jects for me, so I guess I will be look­ing for some­where to stay for a month or two in the Goa area (that’s where I fly into) and fin­ish them there. If you have any recom­mend­a­tions then I’m all ears!

What are your thoughts?

Have you ever exper­i­enced travel fatigue? If so, what did you do? Let me know in the comments!

I wish every­body a Happy New Year and hope you don’t find this art­icle too depressing :)

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About Boris

Boris used to be a bulldozer operator, dive instructor, furniture importer and airport worker. He currently works as a web developer and is about to outsource himself to India. He is passionate about travelling and his favorite country right now is Pakistan.