You’re here because you have travel burnout. I’ve been there. I almost cancelled four days of island hopping in Panama because I missed my dad’s scrambled eggs.
Travel burnout articles suggest everything from throwing yourself into local culture to holing up in a hotel room. The advice is meant to liberate: shake up your itinerary, ignore your budget, and skip the museum. These suggestions worked as a quick fix but they missed the underlying truth: travel burnout is a natural reaction to a chaotic lifestyle. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at traveling or have to go home. It doesn’t even mean you need to splurge on a bottle of red and skype friends.
Feeling worn out after months of hostel kitchens, sunburns and night buses isn’t crazy, it’s expected. Backpacking is a privilege, that doesn’t mean it’s always fun.
Travel culture pressures you to constantly be “doing.” Burnout is a sign that you’ve done enough.
Now’s the time to observe and let happen. Melancholy is part of being human. Mixed emotions will catch up to you wherever you are. When you’re ATVing around the Himalayas your discontent can seem like ingratitude. Give yourself a break. You’ve been adventure-sporting for months. Excitement isn’t meant to last forever.
Rather than fight the burnout, welcome it.
Frown for a couple days.
Enjoy that you don’t care if you meet cool people at the bar or if there is good beach weather today or if the bus-ride comes with a movie. You expend so much energy deciding, anticipating, and planning in travel.
Accept that you’re sick of ruins.
Don’t read the reviews of the hostel, don’t introduce yourself to other travelers at breakfast — hang up a towel around your bunk-bed so no one interrupts your moody daydreaming.
Feelings are meant to be felt. It sounds obvious and yet our first reaction to ennui is to will ourselves out of it. This adds frustration and guilt to the dissatisfaction. Be mopey.
You’re not an ungrateful princess or overzealous pilgrim.
You’re a person far from your home, social supports and daily routine. You’ve been introducing yourself to new people everyday and saying goodbye to them just as quickly.
You’ve eaten more fried food than your skin can handle, drunk enough national beer to last a lifetime, and you live in a state of itchiness. I’m not going to tell you to watch Netflix or call your friend or eat a brownie because that’s just another thing you’ll have to do and that’s the problem. Stop doing. Be exhausted.
It’s a natural reaction to your adventure-seeking lifestyle. Positive emotions don’t last forever, neither will these negative ones.