How I Beat Travel Burnout
At the six-month mark in my travels, I hit my sophomore slump. I was exhausted, burnt out, and homesick. But I wasn't ready to go home. I still had a lot of places I wanted to see and I knew that I just had to give myself time to get out this travel funk. But it wasn't going to happen on its own - I had to put effort into making sure I was taking care of myself and enjoying my travels.
But now I've been on the road for seven months and I'm feeling good! Here's how I did it -- I hope it helps you out, too!
- I changed locations. I had gone back to Koh Tao, a familiar place to me, but the island life just didn't seem to be doing it for me. So I switched it up and booked an overnight bus to Chiang Mai -- I had never been to northern Thailand. The new city, which was less chaotic than Bangkok but still had plenty to do, agreed with me instantly.
- I chose a social hostel. I have this thing where I flip back and forth between staying in quiet hostels and more social hostels. I knew I had to get out of my antisocial bubble, so I booked a hostel that had raving reviews for its atmosphere and staff. Thai Thai Hostel helped me regroup and got me excited again about traveling.
- I tried harder to meet people. When I was burnt out from traveling, I got really lazy about meeting new people and didn't want to put forth the effort to start up conversations. Which didn't help when I was feeling bored and lonely. So at Thai Thai, I inserted myself into conversations, said "yes" whenever somebody invited me to do something, and eagerly gave advice to other backpackers who were visiting countries I had already been to. I went back to my usual, non-stop talkative self!
- And then I traveled with those people. A part of my burnout was just being over traveling alone and doing things on my own. So I tried to plan activities and trips with other people! You want a buddy to Pai? I'm your girl. You want to split a taxi from the airport? Yup, choose me. You want to see the sunrise over the temples? Ugh, I guess I'll get up early. I've realized that even though I really enjoy traveling alone, at this point in my travels, I seem to find more enjoyment when I'm experiencing things with other people.
- I stayed busy. I thought I needed to slow down, but that doesn't mean staying in bed binge-watching Netflix and not talking to a soul was the way to do it. Instead, I needed to stop jumping so quickly from place to place and instead stay busy with people and things to do. The days flew by -- there wasn't time to miss home when I was too busy watching a Muay Thai fight or wandering the night markets!
- I finalized future travel plans. When I started doubting my future travel plans, I doubled down instead and locked them in. In Bangkok, I paid the $50 for my Myanmar visa and the $25 for my Vietnam visa. I booked flights. I googled things to do. I knew I was just going through a phase, so I didn't want my current burnout to stop me from my future travels.
- I looked for a piece of home. Instead of heading to Indo after Myanmar, I booked a ticket to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where my cousin has been working for the past two years. Her and I are both from the Midwest - she grew up in Ohio and I grew up in Indiana. Knowing that I would soon be seeing a familiar face made me excited to trade travel stories, experience the life she's built in Vietnam, and feel at home without actually being at home.
- I treated myself. I spent a lot of money in Chiang Mai and it was worth it. I did everything I wanted to do without regard for my budget (well, kind of). I visited an elephant sanctuary and did a cooking class. I went bungee jumping. I paid extra for a luxurious Thai oil massage and got my nails done. I booked a hotel room the night before flying out. After six months of watching my budget closely and doing each country for as cheap as I could, I let go in Thailand because I needed to.
- I looked back. I reminded myself how far I had come. I flipped through my very first journal entries: "I can't believe I'm actually on this plane right now. TO AUSTRALIA." "Ahh, I've been gone for two weeks already. I feel like time is flying by!" "I'm about to get on a boat for three weeks with three strangers… What's adventure if you don't at least try?" I realized that this phase would just be another speed bump in my journey, but I had already overcome lots of other speed bumps!
- I switched up my plans for going home. I miss Western conveniences. It's just the truth. So I kept thinking, How can I keep traveling but also be in a Western country? I didn't feel like blowing my budget in Europe, so I've made tentative plans to finish up my trip by flying Hong Kong to Vancouver to explore Canada, then make my way to the United States' Pacific Northwest. It won't be cheap, but I really want to do it. Fingers crossed!
- And finally, I trusted myself. I knew in my heart that if it was time to go home, I would listen to myself and go home. I have done a lot in the time I've been gone. I've met a lot of people. I've experienced a lot of things. And there is nothing wrong with going home. So, I accepted that I would go home if I felt that was what my gut was telling me. And I've been comforted by the fact that it's just not time yet - I'm still going!
Do you have any tips that have helped you overcome travel burnout or homesickness? Share them in the comments!