Travel burnout is very real and while it most sound like the most first-world problem in the world, it can be a very big problem for long term travellers. I’ve been there many times, and so have a bunch of friends and fellow travellers. So below I’m sharing my top tips for dealing with travel burnout – aka backpacker burnout.
Long term travel may seem like nothing more than an extended holiday, but it’s not always easy. Especially if you’re backpacking on any kind of budget. All that motion – switching towns every few days, the long bus rides or frequent short-haul flights – it can become exhausting after a while. Especially if you’ve been trying to cram in as much as possible into your trip and to see and do everything everywhere you go. If you’re starting to feel frazzled or lose interest in the trip – it’s time to listen to your body and take a rest.
9 Tips for Dealing with Travel Burnout
If you find yourself feeling tired all the time, getting sick, or simply losing interest in your trip – you may have backpacker burnout. You’ll know it when you have it – and here’s what you can do about it!
If you’re still planning a trip, be sure to allocate a slot somewhere in the middle to stop for a long period of time and do very little. If you’re in the middle of your travels and starting to feel the backpacker burnout, find a place that feels right and just stop. Preferably, you want a town or a place where there’s not too much “to do” – one of those small, quiet cities or a tiny town by the beach.
In the middle of my five month trip in South America with my ex we reached Sucre in Bolivia and wound up spending ten days there. There’s not a whole lot of touristy stuff to see in the city, certainly not ten days worth, so it was perfect. We just hung out, took some Spanish classes, went to bars, and unwound a bit.
Stop for a week, or even longer if you’re on a super long trip. Unpack your bag, stop doing tourist stuff, and just relax until the travel burnout lifts.
Rent an Apartment for a Week
If you really want to beat backpacker burnout, I can’t recommend this option enough. Renting an apartment somewhere for a week or two is the perfect way to take a break from backpacking and reset.
It’s also not as expensive as you’d think. Right now, I’m renting a place in Merida for a week through AirBnb and it’s costing £15 a night – while my hostel dorm here cost £8. It might be outside your normal budget but I really think it’s worth the splurge – and you can find some pretty cheap options on AirBnb (there’s often a discount for week long stays).
It’s just so nice to be able to unpack! To hang up my clothes and have my toiletries stood up next to the sink instead of having to root through my washbag to get to them. I can cook for myself (which saves money) and watch Netflix and just be “normal” for a few days. Which honestly, I can’t get enough of.
PS – you can get £25 free credit for AirBnb when you sign up using my referral link.
Ditch the Backpack
A big part of backpacker burnout comes from the actual backpack itself. Carrying it from place to place, packing and unpacking it, digging through it to find some tiny object you’ve lost in the depths… ugh.
So leave it behind for a few days! Recently I headed to Miami for a week to meet my blogger bestie Wanderlust Chloe and take a holiday from my backpacking trip (another great tip for dealing with travel burnout). I packed a small backpack and left my beefy Osprey Fairview with a friend, and it felt so nice to be travelling light for a few days.
Leave your big luggage somewhere safe and take a mini break somewhere. Go camping or book into a nice hotel by the beach – and just take a bit of a break from backpacking.
Read Also: A backpack that opens all the way around is everyone’s best friend. Check out my top backpacks for travel here.
Drop the Dead Weight
Speaking of big heavy backpacks, take this time out to go through your backpack and get rid of anything you don’t need. If you’re lugging around a few souvenirs, consider shipping them home. If you have clothes your’re not wearing, donate them or swap with fellow travellers. De-clutter your backpack a little and not only will it feel lighter, but you will too. Deep, right?
There’s a famous travel quote about how adventure is dangerous but routine is lethal. That’s very true. But it’s also very true that too much of a good thing can be dangerous – and after a while too much freedom can make you feel a bit lost.
Taking classes somewhere can be a great way to stop moving and give a bit of routine and structure back to your days for a while, even if it’s just for a week. I spent a week taking Spanish classes in Bolivia and I felt so good after a week of routine. Consider learning the local language, taking up a new skill, or even volunteering. Anything to give your days a bit of structure and a change of pace. Taking a class is also one of my favourite ways to deepen your travel experiences!
Indulge in Some Home Comforts
Switch of the tourist button for a few days and just do some normal things instead. Go to the supermarket, buy groceries, and cook yourself dinner. Bingewatch a box set on Netflix. Go to a gym (if you’re weird and enjoy exercise). Just do something that feels “normal”.
My favourite home comfort when I’m travelling is to go to the cinema. It’s not usually hard to find a showing in English (it’ll say subtitles, not dubbed). Grab the popcorn, sit in a dark air-conditioned room, and switch off for a couple of hours.
Catch Up and Run Errands
Simple things fall by the wayside when you’re travelling. Case in point – my camera bag has smelt like wet dog ever since I dropped it into a swamp in Nicaragua – but I still haven’t got around to washing it. Things need repairing, batteries need replacing, shoes need cleaning (like my flip flops right at this moment), but you just never seem to have the time to do it all. Take the time to do all the boring small things that are niggling away at the back of your mind – like backing up your photos – and you may just find that an invisible weight gets lifted.
Get Some Me Time
If you’ve been hostelling it for a while, you may have forgotten what privacy feels like. Splurge on a cheap private room for a few nights and just take some time completely for yourself. If you’re travelling with friends or as a couple this can also be helpful – some time apart can be really healthy.
It’s nice just to be able to do things like walk around naked or fart in bed! Two nights on your own in a hotel room can be bliss after months of dorms – and it’s honestly worth the extra expense.
Top tip – search on Hotels.com for a great deal. They give you one night free for every ten nights you book through them.
However problematic it is, travel burnout is a pretty luxurious problem to have. It’s important to take some time to reflect on your trip and take stock. Remember why you’re travelling in the first place and look back at all the highlights so far. Going through your photos or uploading them to Facebook is a great way to do this – or sit down with a journal and write down all your favourite memories so far. Or just play the “what I would be doing if I was at home right now” game and remind yourself how good it feels not to be at work!
Handy Resources for Backpacker Burnout
Use my AirBnb referral link to get £25 free credit when you sign up.
Housesitting can great way to stay in one place for a while – for free! Check out my TrustedHousesitters review to learn more.
Another great way to stay in one place for a while without it costing too much is through a Workaway programme. Check out this guide to workaway and Helpx for loads more info.
Have you ever encountered backpacker burnout? Share your top tips for beating travel burnout in the comments below.