Cultural Experience | Resources

“I’m tired of travelling”: How to Survive Travel Burnout

You’re living the life many dream of, so why are you feeling like this?

With all those pictures your friends are seeing on Instagram, what you’re saying sounds like something straight out of the mouth of a spoiled child. “I’m tired of travelling.” You probably feel like you should be beating yourself up for feeling like this.

But when you’re living out of a backpack for months on end, sleeping nights on crowded train cars and are constantly unsure what the next day will bring, there comes the realization that backpacking isn’t as glamorous as it’s sometimes made out to be. Travel burnout is real and there’s a lot Instagram isn’t telling your friends.

It’s bound to happen

Austria backpacking

It’s hard to convince someone that travel burnout can happen. For many up and coming adventure seekers, the thought of being tired of travelling is unthinkable.

There’s this natural desire to see as much as possible when backpacking, especially in Europe and Asia. When there’s so many different cultures spanning so close together across these continents, travellers will always try to make the most of the time they have. There’s also the expectation that you should be trying to see as much as possible. In the end, you’re using up a lot more energy than the average vacation.

Everything is enjoyed in moderation and travel’s not an exception. Any task done repeatedly and with no break becomes mundane. Travellers with burnout will become bored. They’ll become impatient and find it hard to laugh off small mistakes whilst travelling. Chances are you’ll become homesick and, most importantly, less adventurous than you were in the beginning. Don’t worry, it’s normal and it doesn’t mean that these feelings are permanent.

Spoil yourself

Swedish Lapland Backpacking

Travelling is not a holiday. The adrenaline of that constant adventure is intoxicating and backpackers easily lose track of how much energy they’re really using. It’s a barebones lifestyle – there’s no other way around it. The essence of backpacking is living on the cheap. You’re wearing the same clothes on end, eating on a budget all the time, sleeping on a budget all the time. A budget is always at the back of a backpacker’s mind.

Remember, though: this is the trip of a lifetime. And, as essential as budgeting is to surviving long-term travel, let’s face it: you worked hard to get here. A night out at a new restaurant or booking a hotel room after a week in a 16-bed hostel isn’t going to hurt you in the long run. In fact, spoiling yourself might just be the motivation you need to keep you going.

You’re not the only one

Chamonix backpacking

It was something I never thought about when getting on my one-way flight to Geneva before my study abroad, but I got travel burnout like baptism by fire. As soon as I landed in Switzerland, I spent the next three weeks living entirely out of a backpack by myself. I hiked through three different countries, sleeping in old French cattle farms with 60 other people and drinking water from alpine glaciers.

I arrived in Amsterdam after my hike at three in the morning. As I was looking around for a hostel in high tourist season, I knew a day indoors was needed. Sleeping-in and watching a Quentin Tarantino movie one day wasn’t going to null and void my entire trip to the Netherlands. Either way, I felt guilty. So many people would do anything to be here, but my heart told me to rest. Instinct seldom lies.

The day after, full of energy, I was on a vintage bicycle roaming along the canals with a stroopwafel in hand, and it was glorious.

This is your trip. There are no set expectations on how many sites you need to see or how to travel the right way – whatever that means.

Pace yourself. This isn’t a race. Take a breather, relax out in the park, have alone time with a book. This isn’t going to stop the many travels that await in the many days ahead. You’ll appreciate all the new sites and people you’ll meet if you take a step back every once in a while. Never beat yourself up if you’re too tired because backpacking, in all honesty, is a lot of work.


Evan Przesiecki

Carleton University | 9 stories

Evan Przesiecki is a journalism student at Carleton University who studied abroad in the Netherlands and Denmark.

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