Traveller burnout: Don’t be afraid to say no
When you first pack your bags and head off into the big wide world on your travels, it’s a pretty exciting time. It’s been a long time coming and you’ve lost count of how many times you fantasised about being on that beach thousands of miles away from the stresses of home. It’s easy to get swept away in the excitement and say yes to everything, to everyone who invites you for dinner, sightseeing, or just to hang out. And why shouldn’t you? Hell you should grab every opportunity with both hands, make new friends at every turn and have an amazing time because you’re no longer holding yourself back. I certainly did – I’ve now been travelling for about four months by myself and it has been a truly amazing four months spent exploring Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and now Cambodia – it’s been more than I ever dreamed it would be.
Travelling by yourself means you have to give 100% every single day, you never have anyone else to pick up the slack if you’re hungover or tired, so it’s that much more exhausting than travelling with someone else. I know, how can laying on beaches be tiring – well consider the time that goes into travelling between places, the organising of transport, accommodation, the arguing with tuk tuk drivers, having to find new friends at every destination… The list goes on. There’s a lot more to travelling than just laying on beaches – I write this after travelling through the length of Laos and Vietnam in one month – that’s really not long and trust me I’ve barely slept for the whole time. Between late nights hanging out with friends in Laos and sleeper buses/trains throughout Vietnam, plus the constant movement, sightseeing, exploring, and all the physical activities like mountain biking and canyoning – it’s bloody knackering! I’ve actually had to take a little holiday from travelling and am spending a few days catching up on sleep on a beach in Cambodia.
What’s my point in all this? Well, it’s suddenly struck me that if you are travelling for any length of time last a few months, you really need to take this into account when you plan. You need to realise that at one point or another you will hit a wall if you go full pelt every single day, you need to allow your body time to recover and to relax as well as trying to fit everything in. This is something I’m learning as I go, and to be honest I’m not great at – I just get so excited about everything that I want to do everything at once and don’t want to miss any opportunity! I’m the sort of girl who does three festivals in a row and works two jobs in-between instead of allowing time to recover – and I need to learn to change my ways. I’ve noticed lately that I’m getting tired so much earlier in the day and it is my body telling me to rest instead of organising the next stage of my journey – so as I’m coming to the end of my time in Asia I have plenty of R&R time booked in. I’ve made the decision to stay on this beach for a few days before heading to a yoga and meditation retreat for a week, followed by a few days of shopping, being pampered, going to the gym and relaxing by a pool in Bangkok before heading to Australia. Then I can arrived refreshed and ready to take on a new world of travelling.
Have you got traveller burn out? My top tips for how you can beat it:
Don’t be afraid to say no. Travelling solo means often you feel obliged to take up every invite extended to you but that’s not always the wisest move – this can mean you’re too busy to really appreciate any of what you are doing. Sometimes it’s best to pick out what you really want to do instead of following the crowd on everything – after all, that’s why you came away by yourself.
Spot the signs. Feeling achy or getting ill? Tired for no reason, not sleeping well, can’t be bothered to socialise? All signs you’re getting burnt out and need a break – listen to your body, it knows what it’s talking about! Give yourself time to relax and unwind, eat properly, drink lots of water and don’t feel guilty!
Know that time spent alone is time well spent. I find it hilarious that actually in the time I’ve been travelling I have usually had to fight to get time alone rather than being surrounded by a gang of people – Cambodia is actually the first country I have predominantly been alone! But that does mean that often you lose the fight and end up spending all your time with other people, getting locked into a pattern where you feel like time by yourself is wasted. It’s not, it’s very important. If you can’t be happy in your own company, you never will be with others, so take time to get to know yourself and your own thoughts.
Get your priorities in order. Sightseeing is not the most important thing and if you don’t end up seeing some temple because you needed a lay in, fancied a leisurely breakfast or just wanted to lay by the pool – that’s okay! You don’t have to see every historical landmark, every temple, every bridge and every pretty viewpoint. Pick wisely and see just what you want to see, that will give you time in-between to chill as well – often if you try to see everything you end up not enjoying anything and that is why you are there! To enjoy yourself!
Remember what you did to get there. Think back to the time you were working five jobs to find this trip, to when you cried in the toilets at work because you were so stressed out over something that just didn’t matter, or to when you had spent 20 out of the past 24 hours working and we’re seeing double you were so tired. Now ask yourself why you’re pushing yourself so hard and demanding so much – you came here to relax and be happy. So do it and don’t feel like you have to achieve all the time. You’re free of that damned rat race and you need to enjoy it before you get sucked back in.
Have you had traveller burn out? How did you beat it? Any other tips for getting back on track?