Avoiding Travel Burnout – Mental Health On The Road

Travelling is action packed, seeing spectacular sights, meeting interesting people, long travel days and lots of time spent on your feet. Although the exploration and experience is positively enjoyable, sometimes it can become overwhelming and difficult to maintain. It is important not to let these things take over your enjoyment. So avoiding travel burnout is vital to the lifestyle.

So what is travel burnout?

Travel burnout is a very real and frequent experience for all types of travellers. You almost certainly have heard of it, and may well have experienced it. The signs are clear, once they begin they’re increasingly difficult to hide from. Picture it, you’re adventuring somewhere you’ve dreamed of for a long time, everything is as good as you could ever dream it to be, but you’re tired, irritable, anxious and lacking enthusiasm. Is it normal? Is there something wrong? You can relax! Because it’s something most travellers will experience at some point in their adventures and is extremely common!

So what to do if you find yourself feeling this way? Or better yet, what steps can be taken to prevent this frustrating feeling? Read on for my top tips on avoiding travel burnout and where to focus your energy to get back to feeling adventurous and enthusiastic all over again!

1. Take it slow

Most travellers are limited in at least one major capacity. Generally either limited on time or budget, possibly even both (I know I have been there). Because of this, a lot of travel itineraries are often jam packed, trying to squeeze as much as possible into a limited period.

Aim to spend less time looking out of plane windows and more time at your destinations.

Transiting is exhausting

While it may seem like a great plan on paper, it’s a sure fire way to burn yourself out quickly. If your travel plans are packed out on a daily basis and you are moving from one spot to another on every other day, you will more than likely be spending half the time on your trip in some sort of transit. You will find you never quite get to settle in and enjoy a spot before it’s time to get moving again. Don’t forget how long and tiring travel days can be.

Even just 1 travel day based around a 2 hour flight, in your head its easy to just consider the 2 hour flight time, when in reality the day will consist of much more: checking out of your accommodation,  transit to the airport 1-3 hours pre flight, airport check in, flight time, bag collection and transitting from airport to new accommodation, its an exhausting day. If you’re moving every few days you will find yourself burning out. Fast!

Missing the finer things

As well as this, short sharp visits to each location means you may only get to see a few highlights. You may never quite get to capture the true experiences that are on offer! Think broader; local restaurants & bars, walking trails, museums and traditional experiences are all things you could be skipping over and missing out on! So as tempting as it may be to squeeze as many locations into your itinerary as possible, don’t forget the exhaustion that can come with it.

I, among many other experienced travellers would strongly recommend you slow it on down baby! Take your time, pick some spots you would like to travel in depth and explore. With travel, sometimes less is more. This way you’ll be experiencing more and avoiding travel burnout. Your mind and body will thankyou for it!

2. Look after Physical Health

While living on the move, your physical health can really be left off the priority list. Lack of sleep, lots of “unhealthy” food, increased alcohol intake and forgetting what the inside of a gym looks like, sound familiar? Well it goes without saying that living like this is certainly difficult to sustain. This can quickly lead to a negative spiral and is terrible for avoiding travel burnout.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the last thing I will ever advise is to be meal prepping, hitting the gym each day and turning in for a nice early night while you’re out exploring the world. BUT, a little can go a long way to helping maintain your health not only physically, but also mentally. Especially if you already live a healthy active lifestyle before travelling.

A few simple yet effective things you can do to keep your physical health up to speed:

  • Make use of hostel/ hotel kitchens and cook yourself a nutrient dense meal at least once every few days, get some vegetables in and thank me later. Not only is it beneficial to ditch the restaurant or fast food and get some high quality food in your system, you’ll also find it quite budget friendly if you’re watching your spending!
  • Put aside 15 minutes for a quick workout just a few times a week. You’re not featuring on pumping iron here, keep it simple. Find a bit of floor space in your room, better yet somewhere outdoors. Pick 3 body weight exercises, do each one for 30 seconds with a 10 second break between exercises. Repeat this 5 times. Simple. Not only will it benefit you to get your body moving, the endorphins release will boost your mood and contribute to keeping you enthusiastic and ready for your next activity.
  • Get some rest! If you feel like you need some sleep, you probably do! Take one night off every now and then, get an early night, have a sleep in (or do both, you deserve it). You’ll find you’re able to enjoy all your activities significantly more if you’re not half awake for them all.
A quick visit to a fruit & vegetable market in Sorrento, Italy.

So in short, we’re not aiming to break any personal records or goals here, but making little efforts when possible can help prevent hitting the wall and help sustain your energy for your travels.

3. Schedule some down time/rest days

Some personal time to relax and catch your breath is significant in avoiding travel burnout! Long days, late nights, jet lag and thousands of steps per day. As much as it is for leisure and experience, travel is exhausting. Not scheduling any time to sit down and relax will run you down very quickly.

If you think of travelling like a work schedule (although I’m sure we all know what we’d rather be doing) it’s easier to comprehend, a lot of travel schedules consist of activities all day every day for 12+ hours a day with little to no time to relax. Now if you think of being on a work roster of 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, even in a job that you absolutely love its an unpleasant thought, not to mention impossible to sustain. So picture your travels the same way.

There’s a few favourite ways I have to slow down the pace and relax. Don’t give in to the travel guilt, take it easy, you deserve it.

Do Nothing

If you’re wanting to recover and recharge the social and physical battery a little, it can be very simple. Have a night in doing nothing, mindlessly scroll your socials, watch your favourite netflix show, facetime some friends or family. Don’t let travel guilt get the better of you, sometimes a night away from the action is exactly what you need. It will help you stay refreshed and continue on exploring afterward!

Slower pace activities

Personally even I struggle with sitting still too much even if i know its beneficial. Consistently needing to be moving and exploring can be a blessing and a curse. But luckily there is other ways to slow down a gear, relax and still enjoy yourself.

Adapting your choice of activities based on where you are can be a way of making the best of both worlds. If you’re in Hungary – visit some thermal baths, if you’re in Thailand – get a spa and massage treatment, in Australia – set yourself up a quiet picnic on a beautiful beach. I’ll stop before the thoughts get too dreamy. Finding relaxing activities where you are can go a long way to keeping you relaxed and in a good mental space.

Finding a beach to have a rest is never a bad way to spend a day, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia

4. Journal

Keeping a travel journal can be majorly beneficial in so many ways. It’s no secret that journalling can be a great way to keep your travel memories stored. Favourite places, people and experiences, as well as reliving all the emotions you encountered at the time as you reread them in the future. But what isn’t as well acknowledged is how useful a journal can be at the exact time of the experience.

Its not unusual to be overwhelmed with different feelings and emotions during travel. Sometimes these can be hard to process and properly express. Journalling can help channel these feelings and help you to understand them on a different scale. Staying in rhythm with yourself on this emotional level may help in soothing anxious thoughts and keep you feeling yourself.

Many travellers I have interacted with have shared how useful journalling has been for their mental health and helping them in avoiding travel burnout. It’s also harmless and simple to try. What’s the worst that can come from it? It doesn’t have to be a perfectly designed schedule in a pretty pink little notebook (although if that is your style then you go for it). Personally, most of my journalling takes place in the notes section of my phone, or scribbled onto the back of a brochure while cramped up in an economy plane seat. It doesn’t have to be glamorous or well written, in fact, sometimes it’s better to be barely coherent ranting. It’s for you and you only at the end of the day. Just start writing and I promise you might be surprised at how much will pour out!

Utilising a bus trip for some reflective writing time, Aswan, Egypt.

5.Stay socially connected

While travelling is loaded with happiness and adventure, it can be lonely. Sometimes reaching out can seem hard to fathom or even selfish if you’re struggling while on the move. But excluding yourself and not communicating can be just as bad for you while away from home as it is when you’re in an everyday routine. Realistically it may be even worse, especially for solo travellers. The people that know you the best can’t see you and people can tend to assume that all is always going to be as good as ever while you’re away from home exploring. It is incredibly important to stay connected. Stay connected with your closer circle as well as other travellers to avoid landing yourself in a mental rut.

Connect with friends and family

Stay as connected as you can with friends and family. The people that love you still love you and are always going to make an effort. Different time zones and lifestyles can be difficult, but adjustments can always be made. Video chat, call and message your close contacts as often as you can. They probably can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to and consistent contact will remind you that you’re not alone. Even if you’re not travelling solo this is beneficial and will keep you feeling connected.

Connect with other travellers

Other than the people who care for you most, like minded people are also great to keep in contact with. One of the main reasons I created this blog was to be in contact with other similar people and to share my experience while hoping to positively contribute to others. Avoiding travel burnout is something many other travellers are familiar with and exchanging personal tips is always beneficial.

So read travel blogs, join Facebook traveller groups, reach out to people you’ve met on your travels. Stay connected with the right people. Of course I am always personally reachable via socials or email too! Other travellers can empathise with the things that you are feeling and may pleasantly surprise you with how much people care!

How you feel is always valid.

Don’t forget that your mental health is just as valid while you’re out travelling as it is when you’re back home. Listening to your body and listening to your soul when it needs rest are the simplest ways to keep it all together while living such a busy lifestyle. There are many other things that can be done to maintain a good mental health balance and for avoiding travel burnout while away from home. I hope you can find some benefit from these major ones i have listed!

Thankyou for reading and I hope you have taken something positive! Always feel free to comment here your thoughts, things that resonate with you, or ask any questions. Or contact me directly via my social links or email in the About Me page. Much love!

20 thoughts on “Avoiding Travel Burnout – Mental Health On The Road”

  1. So relateable! These are amazing tips to keep you grounded while living nomadically. I’ve certainly experienced both the highs and lows and know how important it is to listen to your mind, body and soul and stay grounded whilst travelling solo. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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