About 1,5 months into our travels I started to get super tired and lost all interest in exploring. All I wanted to do was to be inside and hide from all stimuli. I was constantly exhaust and everything felt really difficult, trying to communicate with people not speaking English, eating food I’m not used to, trying to cross busy roads.. it was all just too much. All places we’ve visited started to float together and I couldn’t remember which place was which anymore.
I realized quite quickly that this was some sort of burnout. I did go through a burnout and depression recently, so I recognised the signs. After a quick google I saw that this is very common. And not only for travellers just starting out, also for travellers that’s been out for a while. It can happen on short and long travels.
I am very sensitive to stimuli and can get extremely tired when I constantly are in new situations and do too much in a short amount of time. Like sensory overload. I really need my time to relax and have some quiet around me. We did travel quite fast for a couple of weeks and saw a lot of different places and that really hit me. I was ready to go home to Sweden at this point.
How to Deal with Travel Burnout
The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to just stop for a while. Somewhere where you get energy, so you can recharge and get back to feeling like yourself again. I would strongly suggest stopping somewhere in a smaller place, close to nature. We, however, stopped in Tirana, the capital of Albania. It might not have been the best place, as I felt stressed about not exploring. If you’re in a small place you can explore everything quickly and then just take it easy.
But even though we stayed in Tirana, I managed to slowly restore some energy. I slept in, stayed in a couple of days, or just taking a long walk or go out for lunch. Nothing that would take too much energy from me. When I started to feel better we did ”normal” things, such as going to the cinema etc. Things that we would normally do at home. This really helped me and I started to get more energy and also wanting to go out and explore again.
How to Prevent Travel Burnout
After this experience we have changed our way of travelling. Or rather gone back to how we did in the beginning. We had a three night minimum rule when we started travelling. So we didn’t have to move too much and pack and repack all the time. We don’t set a minimum now, but we make sure to take our time. Right now we’re in Ohrid Macedonia, there’s not much to see and do but the vibe is really nice and relaxing. So instead of hitting Bitola for 2 nights we stayed here 2 nights longer and skipping Bitola to go directly to Skopje. It’s easier for us to stop for a while as we don’t really have a time limit. But if you are on a time limit it’s even more important to realize that you won’t be able to go to all places and do everything you want. You need to prioritize and choose. Even we need to prioritise and choose where we go.
I am aware that some people might be able to handle stimuli better than I am. Sam for example doesn’t have the same issue as me. However, I do think anyone could hit this point regardless of how high your limit might be. So to prevent travel burnout it is important to take your time and try to not squeeze in too much in a short amount of time. And also be ok with not hitting all the places you had on your list before starting to travel. Be happy with what you do experience instead of focusing on what you missed.
If you do experience any of these symptoms, please take a moment and make sure you do what you need to do. If it is going home for a bit, just stopping for a while, or whatever, just do it without feeling bad about it. It is nothing wrong to take a break for a bit to take care of yourself. Do what makes you happy, your health is the most important thing you have.