No matter how energetic or seasoned a traveler might be, we all deal with travel fatigue at some time or another. When we inevitably hit that wall, it can feel nearly impossible to bounce back. Thankfully, it isn’t.
Whether you suffer from mental drain, physical strain, or a depleting combination of both, I come bearing good news. There are plenty of ways to deal with travel burnout before, during, and after it strikes. Above all else, you need to make time to recharge your batteries, especially if you’re taking longer trips.
If we aren’t well-rested, we’re going to feel tired. The laws of fatigue are as simple as that. But before we get into ways to handle travel tiredness, let’s talk about how and why it typically happens.
Common Reasons For Travel Fatigue
There are plenty of legitimate and typical reasons to be tired while traveling. On particularly long trips, it’s only natural to become physically and mentally exhausted here and there. But knowing the source of the problem is often the first step in finding the solution.
Here are some reasons why traveling might be making you so, so tired.
- Your mood. Our psychological state directly impacts our energy level. For instance, if you’re stressed out on the road or anxious about sticking to plans, you’re going to feel drained pretty quickly.
- Lack of stimulation. Boredom leads to tiredness. If your brain or body doesn’t have enough to do, you’ll start going to sleep sooner than you planned on.
- Shifts in altitude. If you’re traveling by plane, you’re receiving less oxygen than you’re used to. Lower oxygen levels in the brain and body = increased exhaustion.
- Dehyrdation. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water while you’re in the air. Due to reduced levels of moisture, airplane dehydration is common. And if we’re not properly hydrated, fatigue is inevitable.
- Jet lag.
- An intense travel schedule.
- Poor diet.
- Drastic shifts to your usual routine.
- Pressure to stay active from your travel companion when you’re already worn out
Ready to get back on your feet and brave the world with gusto? Here are some key ways to avoid and alleviate travel fatigue, backed by science.
Take a Nap
It might sound too simple, but sometimes the right answer to a problem is in fact the most simplistic one. So take a nap. One of the biggest causes of travel fatigue is doing too much and spreading ourselves too thin in an effort to make the most of our time. But if you’re completely exhausted while you see the sights, are you really taking them in how you should be?
Make room for rest when and how you can. There’s no shame in taking an afternoon siesta in your hotel, even for just an hour. Chances are, you’ll wake up with newfound energy and get even more out of your vacay than you could’ve if you pummeled through it all while running on empty.
Get a Solid Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation is no joke. Traveling often throws our routine out of whack and no routine suffers more than our sleep routine (even though it’s followed closely by our day-to-day diet.) In the first few days of your trip, do yourself a huge favor by setting and sticking to a sleep schedule. Otherwise, you’re going to feel worn out no matter how much or little you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter what our plans are; sleep is always crucial to our overall well-being. So don’t run yourself ragged. The better we sleep, the better those good times while globetrotting will be.
Read More: 8 Tips For Better Sleep While Traveling
Do you suffer from FOMO? If so, you probably also suffer from fatigue periodically. Don’t let the need to be involved in all the action cause you to overlook other, more pressing needs, like rest. Not to mention, your trip is what you make it.
Sure, there are points on the itinerary you absolutely must hit, but you can get just as much out of doing a little less. In a place you’ve never been, passive activities can often prove just as enriching. Traveling is about getting the full experience, after all.
Go to a nearby cafe and people watch. Lounge by the pool with your eyes closed and take it all in: the smells, sounds, and feelings that wash over you. If you’ve been going, going, going, you’re headed straight for a crash. So take a moment to decompress and allow your system to reset.
Pampering yourself isn’t just about indulging. If you can afford it, getting a massage comes highly recommended as a means to cope with travel fatigue. Throughout our travels, we’re sometimes walking for hours on end, climbing more stairs than usual, and carrying around a camera with a zoom lens or an overpacked suitcase from point A to B.
All of this added physical stress can lead to wear, tear, and travel fatigue. And so, you’re treating yourself to something you probably need. Whether it’s an hour-long massage or a foot massage, take some of the physical pressure off yourself. And if you want to go all out, make it a spa day.
Read More: The Most Sought-After Spas on The Planet
Sticking to our usual diet can be borderline impossible while we’re traveling. And if you’re anything like me, one of the best parts of a trip is trying the local flavor and new or exotic foods. Still, adventurous eating doesn’t have to include throwing all healthy habits out the window. And a poor diet is a fast track to fatigue.
Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Indulging doesn’t have to be completely off the table, but fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to come by pretty much anywhere you go. If you’re planning on decadent meals, opt for healthier snacks that are loaded with micronutrients. Shop at local markets and cook dinner for yourself for a few nights.
It goes without saying: food is a major energy source, and we are what we eat. If we’re eating heavy, nutrient-lacking meals consistently, that’s how we’re consistently going to feel.
Read More: 5 Tips For Eating Healthy While Traveling
Take It Easy For a Full Day
When all else fails, do nothing. There’s absolutely no shame in saying “I’m too tired for any of this.” And if you want your energy back, accepting it, rather than fighting against it, might be the first step to get there.
Take the whole day off with tomorrow in mind. Chances are, you’ll wake up energized and ready to do more than you previously thought possible. And if you don’t allow yourself time to rest, recover, and reset, you’re going to end your vacation in need of another one.
Don’t Take Your Itinerary Too Seriously
There’s nothing more tiring than turning your dream vacation into a task. If you’re too rigid about sticking to the itinerary, you’re at risk of this common misstep. When you’re sick of sightseeing or simply too tired to hit the next plot point, everything can start to feel like a chore, no matter how fun in theory.
It’s okay not to do everything you envisioned doing. Save your energy for the parts of your itinerary that matter most and let the rest become options, rather than musts. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans, as they say. So leave some room in your schedule for the unexpected. You’ll be ten times more likely to live it up.
Try Something New
Fatigue is sometimes just a sign that it’s time to mix things up. So shake yourself awake, globe trotter. If you’re burnt out on museums and the world around you is starting to feel flat, give your brain some new stimuli. Wander the streets aimlessly for the afternoon. Hop a train and see where the day takes you.
Above all else, step outside of your comfort zone. You never know what might happen when you do, and that’s the point.
No matter how far away we go, we can’t escape ourselves. In turn, our problems or responsibilities back home can travel with us, even if we attempt to tune it all out. And oftentimes, those issues become amplified when we’re given enough breathing room for clarity.
Atop of all the reasons to become fatigued, avoiding what we’re experiencing and trying to “flee” our current state of being is a big one. Yes, getting away from it all can be exactly what we need. But attempting to detach from our personal reality can have the opposite effect.
Keep in touch with family and friends while traveling. Connecting with loved ones will help you stay centered and less bogged down with anything that weighs on you. Plus, telling travel anecdotes can be energizing.
Above all else, we need support and emotional balance, especially when it comes to our energy levels. If you’re in a vacation situation where you can’t reach out, look within. Meditate in a scenic spot or journal your thoughts. Take a deep breath and pay attention to only that for a second. Write a letter to a friend.
When you feel connected, you feel lighter.
Every day, find a way to stay in motion. It might sound counterintuitive, but to truly combat travel fatigue, it’s essential to move around. When we move our bodies on a daily basis, we’re getting our blood flowing, releasing energizing feel-good chemicals, and taking care of ourselves in the process.
Like our diets and our sleep schedule, self-care often falls by the wayside. And when we’re already feeling sluggish, exercising while traveling can be the last thing on our minds.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but you need to get moving. Otherwise, being too sedentary will become a slippery slope. At some point, you will in fact be too tired to do anything. And where’s the fun in that?
Live In The Moment
No matter where it stems from, fatigue is often a vicious cycle. And so, it can easily become an ingrained part of our routine if we let it. Traveling or not, it’s scarily easy to feel tired all the time and we sometimes don’t realize just how tired we really are.
Do a personal check-in right now. How do you feel? If you’re fatigued more often than not, being fatigued while traveling might as well be inevitable. While all of the tips on this list can be applied to combatting travel fatigue, this one might be the most critical in its own right.
Whether you’re about to hit the road or in the middle of Indonesia, live in this moment. One of the best ways to prevent and diminish travel fatigue is to put less focus on what you plan to do or should be doing and pay more attention to what’s going on in the present moment.
Take in your surroundings and your place in it all. Being at one with your surroundings can be surprisingly reinvigorating. Best of all, it doesn’t require much out of you.