11/14/2013 05:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Traveling That Sucks: When Travel Burnout Happens

It all looks the same.

Is anything new anymore?

Cobblestones, squares, kebab shops, palm trees, fountains, another freaking cathedral.

After months and months on the road, there is no denying that great sights start to blend together and lose their once-dazzling sheen.

You are no longer giddy with excitement and there is an absence of that jaw-dropping awe. I knew it happened to me when I was standing in the desert, looking up at the Great Pyramids, and thought, "meh."


For those out there traveling long-term or going on frequent trips, there is no denying that some kind of burnout is inevitable -- even if you are still excited, but just so damn sick of packing and unpacking your bag.

So what to do to keep burnout at bay? Here are some ideas for you.

Travel Slower

This is probably the best advice that seems perhaps the most counterintuitive. Maybe you feel homesick and want to speed up your travels so you can get "home." But why not simply make your life out in the world more like "home"? Stop rushing through cities, towns, and islands and kick back and stay a while. Unpack your bag and stay in one place to really get to know it.


Do Something

Get a job, volunteer, take a salsa class or find some other way to connect with people (other travelers and locals). My most memorable experiences were when I immersed in society and did something -- like working in a café in Melbourne, or volunteering at Crisis UK over Christmas, or doing an English immersion "camp" in Spain. I was living life, connecting with people, and didn't feel like a tourist at all. I was part of society and had a structure and purpose.

Get Online and Then Go Offline

The Internet is an amazing resource to find local activities, meet-ups, Couchsurfing groups, Meal Sharing, expats groups, etc. Without it my trip (and life) would be entirely different. This is just another way you can connect with locals and build a little community for yourself in your new home. I am always amazed at how easy it is to find "new" friends where I never had any before. There are great sites and tools out there, you just have to use them. Once you make these virtual connections, get offline and go meet face to face. That's the best part.


Get Keys

Whenever I've either house-sat, or used Couchsurfing or got a short-term apartment rental, there was something much less transient about it. I lived in a real neighborhood. I had a kitchen. I could unpack my things. I could sit on my couch and chill at night if I didn't feel like going out just for the sake of it.

I think the biggest keys (yes, besides those house keys) to prevent burnout are all about becoming more local. Insulating yourself less from your new "home" and meeting the people and living like a local. Whenever I did this, I made wonderful new friends (with very little conscious effort) and made memories that I cherish much more than seeing any museum or "tourist" site.

Give Yourself a Break


As much as people may be jealous of your long-term 'vacation' or frequent travels, we know full well, it's not a vacation. Traveling full time or living location independently can be hard work. It can be daunting and exhausting thinking about where you will 'live' every week or so. So besides taking a literal "break'... give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook for feeling tired or down. Although our photos tell a different story (don't forget, everyone just shows their "highlight" reel), not every moment on the road is roses and sunshine. It's life intensified and you will feel it all. So let yourself.

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Does that mean I've found the cure to travel burnout? Of course not. In fact, I fear that it will never feel the same again, that I've simply lost that childlike wonder and sense of awe. When I take short trips, I still find it hard to immerse and do what I have suggested above if I'm only traveling for a week. And I still haven't recaptured that thrill and excitement of my 'round-the-world trip, but maybe like a good relationship, it has settled into a comfortableness -- a love and respect for travel and for the world itself.