Sunset clouds sky
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Is Travel Wearing You Out? Don’t Worry — It is Normal

s travel wearing you out? I ask that question because there have been quite a few articles authored by colleagues of mine who have been admitting that they have either been losing interest in traveling; or that travel is wearing them out in general.

“I was in the middle of a vacation in Tuscany and lacking my usual ‘oooh! look, an old rock!’ level of enthusiasm. I found myself wondering and worried as to whether all my travels were making me underwhelmed with the world.” Keri Anderson of Heels First Travel then adds to this article: “And then I realized I wasn’t jaded. I was just exhausted. Even staying in beautiful locations and flying in first and business class.”

Caroline Lupini of Point Princess wrote in this article that “It had been an especially rough couple weeks at home with the funeral of a close friend’s father and just general not being able to get a good hold on everything that was going on. On Thursday, I was setting of on an Amtrak to Chicago in order to catch a flight to Barranquilla, Colombia the following morning. I had been really looking forward to this trip as it was going to be my first time visiting South America since I booked the ticket a couple months ago. As Thursday drew nearer, I could feel myself getting less and less excited to go, but I had used this flight to position myself to Washington DC to meet up with some friends before heading to Iceland, Germany, and then another couple weeks around Europe. All in all I was slated to be gone for a month. And I wasn’t feeling it.”

Citing a recent report on how frequent travel can be harmful, Christine Krzyszton of Frugal Travel Guy — she is clearly not a guy — wrote in this article that “At first I thought this was crazy talk, but as I read further, I started to recognize some familiar and uncomfortable symptoms that I must admit I’ve experienced.” She goes on to say that “I must admit that while traveling 350,000 miles a year, I have experienced several of these conditions including, but not limited to, severe dry eyes and gastro-intestinal problems, both requiring ongoing medical attention.”

There is no need to be concerned. It is quite normal, actually. At one point or another, travelers will eventually feel that way.

If you stop and think about it, travel is very disruptive by nature. You prepare for a trip hoping that you did not forget anything, as there is little you can do once you leave. You travel to the airport — sometimes in traffic. You wait in line as you are processed through the airport security checkpoint at the airport by agents of the Transportation Security Administration — even if you do have credentials which allow you to be expedited faster. You wait — either at the gate or in an airport lounge. You then board the airplane with dozens of other passengers — regardless of to which cabin you are assigned to be seated — and you are hurled through the air at 35,000 feet above the ground in a seat in close quarters.

Upon arrival at your destination, you are in surroundings which are either completely unfamiliar; or at least usually not as familiar as where you are based. You might be in a different time zone, which could confuse your “body clock” and cause jet lag. If you are at a foreign destination, you are processed again — this time through immigration; and my experience in Bahrain was not the most pleasant, as an example.

You might cough because you are not used to being around smokers; go hungry as the food may not generally be to your liking; find that products and services are expensive due to the exchange rate; or be uncomfortable sleeping in a strange bed in a strange room in a strange building thousands of miles from home — and probably thousands of miles from the nearest person whom you know…

…and I have not included such factors as irregular operations, inclement weather, disruptive fellow passengers and other anomalies which could threaten to further deteriorate your travel experience — such as driving a rental car in Cairo, for example; which I will never forget for the rest of my life.

The funny thing is that the worst travel experiences often make the best stories — but they can still take a toll on you. Often, when I impart my travel experiences to others, they simply shake their heads and wonder how I do it. That is easy: it is because I have a passion for travel

…but what if I were to tell you that every time I am about to go on a trip, I do not want to go or do not feel like going? Yes, I admit it. I get really excited when I research and book my trips; as well as once I am on my way — but I just do not like the actual leaving part. I experience a similar feeling when it is time to return to where I am based. I suppose some of the aforementioned reasons are why I can feel this way. To me, it is similar to public speaking: I look forward to it whenever I am scheduled to do it; and I am on a roll and in my zone once I am doing it — but boy, am I nervous and hesitant right before it is time for me to do it despite the fact that I enjoy it.

There are also times during my travels where I wish I could just blink my eyes and instantly be back home — such as when I changed a flat tire in the hot sun on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere in South Africa. That would have been bad enough without having to also wait at the Lesotho border for four hours just to enter the country and drive for hours to get to a hotel whose front door was locked. That and more all happened in one day after flying as a passenger all night on an airplane. You can read more about my experience here.

Despite all of that, I am usually ready with bag in hand for my next trip; and I enjoy traveling on some of my convoluted itineraries which usually have many fellow experienced frequent fliers scratching their heads at me wondering what was I thinking — but regardless, too much travel is simply no good.

My “secret” may not work for you, but it works for me — especially when I strive to earn elite level status for the following year: I travel in “clumps” — meaning that I may travel several weeks at a time to different destinations; and then I decompress when I am home for weeks or months at a time…

…and because I enjoy being at home, I try to ensure that I am as comfortable as possible while at home — which is why I personally would rather usually save money by traveling as a passenger seated in the economy class cabin instead of the premium class cabin and use the money I save for products and services at home of which I will get more value and use.

Using the example of $1,500.00 in cash cited in this recent article — which includes an active poll — I could use that towards a comfortable chair in which I can sit and use for years instead of on a seat in the business class cabin which I can only use for 18 hours at the most…

…and before you disagree with me, I have my exceptions as well. I will splurge once in a while experiencing premium travel in hotels, as I have a number of trip reports where I stayed in suites in recent months; aboard airplanes, as I was fortunate to be a passenger on Concorde operated by Air France during its last week of operation in May of 2003; in landmark buildings; and even on a roller coaster.

“Any traveler will tell you that the more you travel, the bigger the world becomes”, Sean Coomer of Miles to Memories wrote in this article pertaining to places which you must see before you die. “In other words, your list isn’t long enough. It will continue to grow with all of the amazing places you see and hear about. When my family and I set off on our original 18 month journey in 2007, there were probably 20 main things I wanted to see. Now I have seen most of those things plus hundreds more and the list is longer than ever. Honestly, I can’t afford to wait until I’m old. The world is simply too big and amazing.”

The key to travel in general — whether it is how often you travel; to how many destinations you travel; or how often you splurge on premium products and services — is balance. This depends on how well you maintain perspective in life and adjust your expectations; and it also depends on your optimum threshold of balance. Regardless, too much of anything is usually no good — even pertaining to the most aspirational premium class travel, which should be more of a treat than something always expected, in my opinion…

…and if travel wears you down or you find that you are not excited about it, don’t worry: the feeling is usually temporary if travel is indeed your passion. That is your body’s way of telling you that perhaps it is time to stay home for a while…

…at least, until the travel “bug” bites you again — and for most people, it will…

The light of the sun peeks through stormy clouds somewhere over northwestern South Africa east of Ramatlabama near the border to Botswana, representing how turbulent travel can be — but there is a ray of hope that travel will once again be enjoyable. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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