15 Signs You May Have Travel Burnout
Travel is something that can spark the imagination, provide inspiration, and set you up for life-changing experiences. It can also be a major drag. And largely that depends on you—or how many enhanced pat-downs you’ve recently had to endure.
What happens when traveling stops being fun and starts getting a bit too real? What’s it mean when the rewarding aspects of travel outweigh the negatives? You may just have travel burnout.
Travel burnout can result from traveling too much, extending yourself for too long a time on the road, or simply because you pushed to travel when you really just weren’t in the mood in the first place.
When you stop gaining insights from your getaways and only come away more frustrated than before, then it’s high time to take a break from taking a break. Think of it this way: even the tastiest bar of chocolate will give you a stomachache if you eat too much.
From the compulsion to overplan to the aversion to meeting new people, or when the slightest hiccup can send you into a social media rage, here’s a handy list of warning signs that you might have travel burnout. Decide now if your next vacation should be a staycation.
If You Overplan Everything
Do you really need to plan where you’re going to eat breakfast every day? Must you prepare an itinerary that would make a Fortune 500 secretary weep? Part of the joy of travel is discovery, and it’s hard to discover new things if you’re just going through the motions and not allowing room to explore. If you find yourself planning a trip down to the minutiae, you might have travel burnout.
If You Can’t Laugh Off Frustrations
We’ve all been there. It could be something as simple as a flight delay, a lost hotel room key, or bad service at a restaurant, but there will be a moment where a bump in the road feels like a bump to your head. But when you get angry easily and can’t brush it off with a chuckle—or go into full-on, ground-the-plane rage—it might be time to step back to see if you’re really traveling the way you want. (Or consider some breathing exercises.)
If You Stop Adapting to Local Cultures
It should be a given that travelers make an attempt to try and adapt to local cultures and customs. (And if it’s not, stop being that Ugly American.) Whether you’re in China or Norway, it’s probably not a great idea to assume you’re going to get everything your way, how you’re used to it. Savvy travelers know this, but when they start to get burned out, they just might stop caring and can revert into the obnoxious outsider frame of mind. Or start eating every meal at McDonald’s.
If You Procrastinate Booking a Trip
Some of us are born procrastinators, so this doesn’t always mean that procrastinating booking a trip is a sign of travel burnout. (It just means we’re spontaneous and easygoing!) But for those of us who used to get excited about booking a trip early and often, and are now waiting until the last minute to finalize the details, consider it a sign.
If You Can’t Get Excited About an Upcoming Trip
You should be excited about traveling. It should never be a chore or something you don’t look forward to. Travel host, gothic fashion guru, and constant traveler La Carmina has hit her travel burnout wall before. “Last spring, I flew Vancouver–Japan–Vancouver–Maldives–UAE–Vancouver–Montreal–Vancouver in the span of two months. I then had a week off before I had to go to Hong Kong. Although HK is one of my favorite places, I could barely put together my suitcase, and even considered canceling the trip.”
If You Lose the Desire to Hunt for Deals
Nothing beats a good bargain—especially in a favorable foreign currency—except when you start finding you just can’t be bothered. La Carmina has been there, too. “I’m usually savvy about taking public transportation. However, at the end of a grueling trip, I’ll just pay for a 30-minute taxi ride if it means I can go to my hotel and sleep as early as possible.”
If You Are Not Excited to Meet New People
If you look back at your best trips, you’ll likely find the ones that left the biggest impression were where you met interesting people and made the effort to do so. When you stop giving a damn about tapping into the local scene and instead crawl into your own isolated hole of just-can’t-be-bothered, then yes, you probably have travel burnout.
If You Don’t Want to Leave the Hotel Room
This bed is just so comfortable. The room service really is divine, isn’t it? Look, you can see the Eiffel Tower out the window! Why bother to leave the room? Because it’s Paris, that’s why. If you’re holed up in your room for no good reason (honeymooners, okay, that is a valid reason) and there’s not a hurricane or protest outside the hotel entrance and Montezuma isn’t exacting his revenge, then this is a problem.
If You Do Too Many Touristy Things
There’s value in tourist traps. The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and the Empire State Building are all super touristy—and awesome. But when a trip consists of lemming your way down a well-trod checklist, think about everything you could be missing (and cliffs you could avoid). If you’re accustomed to venturing off the beaten path and suddenly find yourself on a tour bus, that’s probably not a good sign.
If You Stop Being Adventurous
Adrenaline! Adventure! Indiana Jones-ing to faraway lands and riding rapids, turning left instead of right, eating that mystery meat! Meh…. If you find yourself checking Facebook instead of facing the next challenge, you might want to consider taking a short break from taking breaks.
If You Can’t Wait for the Trip to End
“Is it over yet?” Uttering that phrase or any version of it—unless your trip somehow involves a scary movie or you’re a 10-year-old child annoying your parents on a road trip—usually means you’re burned out on travel. When La Carmina was in Tokyo for a month working on a TV show, it became travel death by a thousand cuts. “Small annoyances about the people in the crew, like how one guy pronounced sake ‘sack-ee,’ kept building up. When this guy licked a paintbrush in an art store, and then put it back into the rack, we were ready to take the next flight home.” (Side note: don’t ever lick the merchandise.)
If You Can’t Deal with Crowds
Not everybody can deal with crowds, but if you normally can then suddenly find yourself avoiding them like the plague and there hasn’t been a zombie apocalypse, that’s a bad sign. New York, Beijing, Mumbai, Mexico City…all require sharp elbows and a bit of resolve to navigate. And yes, some brains.
If You Use Twitter or Your Blog for Angry Rants
We all need to vent, but there’s a time and a place, and that usually isn’t in the red ink of the Internet. Think about it: how many people honestly want to read about your poor dining experience in a restaurant they’ve never heard of? If you’re not Anthony Bourdain and your Twitter feed looks like a therapist’s dream after a trip, you might have a little bit of travel burnout. (Or may just be an awful person.)
If You Eat the Same Meal Over and Over
You’ve eaten that hotel burger three times and you’re going back for more. That’s a sign. You’re on a plane and you know exactly what the meal is going to taste like before it hits your lips. That’s a warning shot to switch it up quick. Attorney Stephen Barth of HospitalityLawyer.com has been there. “When I was served the exact same in-flight meal for the 10th time in a two-week period, I knew my travel fuse was burning out fast.”
If You Can’t Enjoy a Sunset
With travel, what can really make a trip can be the simplest things. Fancy dinners or a five-star hotel sure are nice, but sometimes the highlight of a vacation can be something as simple as kicking back and watching an amazing sunset (especially if it’s while eating a fancy dinner on the terrace of your five-star hotel). But if you find yourself not even noticing things that would normally inspire wonder, you might be afflicted with travel burnout.
Then again, if you’re at home, you really may just need a vacation.