How to cope with travel fatigue

So here it is, the big trip. The thing you’ve saved for, for months, maybe even years. The first few months of your travels whizz by in a whirlwind of excitement and every day is a joy. You’ve made loads of new friends and seen some beautiful places; backpacking is everything you imagined it would be. But, one day you may wake up feeling exhausted. The colours lose their vibrancy and the food is no longer appealing. You try to get up and make the most of the day, but all you can think is ‘no, please, no more travelling.’

Sound familiar? You’re probably experiencing a bit of travel fatigue. It can be super frustrating, and when everyone has only ever told you about the good parts of travelling life it can come as a bit of a shock. When I was struck down with exhaustion on the road I scoured the internet to try and figure out what was wrong with me. Was I becoming disillusioned? Was I not enjoying it anymore? Was I in the throws of some hideous tropical disease that not even the strongest of booster jabs could defend against? Nope, I was just a bit tired. If you’re on the road and need a bit of a boost, here are five easy steps to pick yourself back up from travel fatigue.

travel fatigue - map reading

📷 Fancycrave 

1. Call your best friend (or mum, or brother, or partner, or dog…)

Travelling can be a whirlwind of new faces and constant socialising. This will lead to meeting some of the best people you’ll ever come across, but sometimes you don’t feel like being on top of your social game. Arrange a family Face time and have a good old chat with your people. Something about watching your dad burn the dinner over Skype or listening to your bestie babble about her boyf can be really soothing. Things at home tend to be constant and unchanging, so the familiarity of faces and voices will earth you again. New friendships are bloody amazing, but a gentle reminder of the permanence of life at home could be all you need to get your mojo back.

travel fatigue -call home

📷 Artem Bali

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2. Invest in a little privacy

Dorm life is great. Moving from place to place with potential pals around every corner is one of the great joys of travelling, but it’s important not to lose your connection with number one. Sometimes all you need is a bit of space and a hot shower, and the beauty of hosteling is that it doesn’t break the bank to indulge every now and then. Splash out on a private room for a night or three. You’ll be able to get your 8-10 hours of undisturbed sleep and watch Netflix without earphones – imagine that! After you’ve washed away all your sins in a power shower and caught up on your zzz’s, you’ll have all the energy you need to climb up to that top bunk again.

travel fatigue - private room

📷 Puri Garden Hostel – Ubud, Bali

3. Duvet day

If you’re anything like me, your travelling will involve cramming as much into each day as humanly possible. You get up at the crack of dawn and by lunchtime you’ve already climbed a mountain, seen five temples and joined a meditation retreat with some Buddhist monks. Okay, maybe not an entire mountain, but doing so much every day takes its toll on your energy. Running on empty is a very real thing and when you burn the candle at both ends you can completely lose enthusiasm in your trip. Travel fatigue sucks the magic out of the experience, and the last thing you want is to be sat looking at an incredible view thinking ‘why am I here and not in bed?’ To rediscover the magic, a simple formula of napping, movie marathons, aaaaalll the Pringles and zero guilt works a charm. It’s really hard not to feel guilty for spending a day indoors, but your body will thank you! Take a rain check and respond to the call of your bed.

4. 50 shades of beige

Part of the joy of travelling is indulging in all the delicious food. If you’d have told me before I left home that I’d be eating carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 months straight, I’d be kissing the ground you walk on and asking what I did to deserve such a blessed life. In reality however, being on the road often means grabbing the most convenient thing you can find. ‘WHERE ARE ALL THE VEGETABLES??’ you cry as you stare into your 234568th bowl of fried rice with a side of noodles and bread sprinkled on top. Fear not. Get on Google and find some familiar food. Having a happy tummy is good for the soul and a balanced meal could be all that you need to pick yourself up. Or a fat burger… they have lettuce in, right?

travel fatigue - porridge with banana and fruit

📷 Alexandra Andersson

5. Treat yo’self

Maybe it’s because I have no self control when faced with a mall full of shops, or because my default drunk setting is to frantically online shop, but I think there’s absolutely no shame in a bit of spending therapy. I know money is tight on the road but in so many of the world’s markets you can shop to your heart’s content and only spend about a fiver. I’m not saying that developing a shopping habit will cure your tiredness, but a new pair of fake Fila trainers might…help…slightly? I am aware, of course, that spending hard-earned pennies on new clothes isn’t what everyone would deem ‘self care’, so if shopping isn’t your thing why not get a fresh trim? Or work out the knots in your weary backpack-carrying shoulders with a cheap massage?

travel fatigue - christmas tree

📷 Heidi Sandstrom

So there you have it. I bet you’re feeling a new lease of life just from this list alone. If so, get off your phone and go and take a nap, then watch Netflix whilst swaddled in a duvet post-45-minute shower. Then eat a salad in your new trainers while on the phone to your mum. Only joking. But try a few of these handy tips and say goodbye to your travel fatigue. Here’s to feeling re-energised and getting back on the road!

Keep reading 👇🏼 

⭐️ Guide to eating street food

⭐️ Mental health benefits of travelling

⭐️ Best adventure destinations


About the author

Abbi is a freelance writer, peanut butter enthusiast and travel lover. At the moment she’s haphazardly finding her way around the Southern Hemisphere with a full faced snorkel and 4 unnecessary pairs of shoes in tow. She is the author of The Ten Pound Traveller, a budget travel blog on what you can get around the globe for a tenner. You can find her on Instagram @abbiconnor.

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