When travelling loses it’s appeal. The ugly truth about travel fatigue
Disclaimer: The following post is most definitely best summarized by the hashtag ‘first world problems’. However the risk of being unpopular has never stopped me vocalizing anything to date so why start now?
Anyone who has travelled for a long period of time continuously will know exactly what I am about to discuss. For those who have yet to or perhaps never will this post will seem like nothing but a whiny series of complaints when I should really just be grateful for the fact that I am travelling the world. However that gratefulness started fading sometime over the course of the last few months and I have hit a travel wall. I have started to lose interest, lose enthusiasm and become one of those lack lustre travellers that seems inherently ungrateful. But it isn’t ungratefulness, I swear! It is a total saturation of the senses which means not only are my standards far too high, but I am physically and mentally exhausted. There are only so many times you can be ‘wowed’ by something before it starts to lose its effect. Yep, there I said it … I have become a travel snob!
OK OK if you can resist the urge to slap me through the computer (or phone) screen and read a little further I promise this will make a little more sense. Perhaps you may even obtain a slightly better understanding of the life of a traveller beyond the filtered, positive captioned pictures… or perhaps you will still want to slap me, which is totally fine by me.
When I started my journey I had not a plan in the world instead what I actually had was the sense of too much freedom. So when committing to meeting up with people in various countries some 6 months in advance, it seemed like that time would never pass. Instead what it created was deadlines. I need to be in X city in Y country by Z date and all other travel needs to nicely coincide with this. In many ways I unwillingly gave away my freedom and have become a slave to the calendar. Now instead of wandering through countries at my own pace (which is very slow), I have spent the last 3 months rushing through like a maniac to ensure that I still see all I want to but with only the minimum amount of time to do so. My life now goes a little something like… arrive into a city, find accommodation, get info on what I need to see, feel depressed at the thought of rushing around without a break, bury that thought, see aforementioned sites, get annoyed at myself for not gawking at it like the travellers around me, bury that thought, go back to hostel, get little sleep in uncomfortable bed/foreign surroundings, pack bag and worldly belongings for the nth time, strap said belongings to myself and head to yet another bus terminal, god awful bus ride, arrive in new city … and repeat. Without really seeing it coming, my life has actually become hard work. I barely get a second to myself and I am essentially running on empty. Worse still I get annoyed at myself for not being sprightlier… I mean, who is spritely after living out of a backpack for 10 months?
So where to from here? I type this from the room of a very lush hotel in Bogotá City (having returned for a flight deadline tomorrow) and essentially have checked myself in for a mandatory rest stop. Just me and that big fluffy bed and all the room service you can possibly imagine. During this time I aim to reflect on what I can do to get my travel enthusiasm back. I don’t want to be dragging my feet around the world or what the hell is the point? Instead I want to explore and feel that same sense of joy and wonder I felt some 6 months ago. What I know from past experience is that a change is as good as a holiday and please excuse the lame saying – but it fits the scenario perfectly! A change in scenery, a chance to marvel at something new I am hoping will cure all travel woes and leave me feeling a little more recharged. Secondly I am forgoing a number of countries I hoped to rush through and instead slowing the pace right down to include fewer countries, but done well.
Essentially it doesn’t matter what you are doing, be it travelling the world or running in the rat race. We all feel exhausted and unhappy at various times. What isn’t important is whether this is a socially acceptable reason to feel the way you do but to understand within yourself why you feel this way and to resolve it. For me, it means putting myself back into first gear and taking it slow at the expense of seeing less of the world. Will I regret not having pushed myself around miserably to say that I have been to ‘X’ number of countries in ‘Y’ months and wear it like a badge? Nope, not for one second. Happiness is always my number one priority and listening to yourself is the best way to achieve happiness.