You are travelling the world and having a fantastic time. You are meeting cool people, seeing beautiful places and everything is a new and amazing adventure.
Of course, you want to make the most of your time. So your days are jam-packed with sightseeing and excursions and your nights are filled with booze and dancing.
You are having the best time of your life, until… you’re not. Slowly, those long days and nights are catching up to you. You’re tired, burned out and getting numb to all the beautiful things around you. It is the unavoidable “man with the hammer” of backpacking: the dreaded traveller’s fatigue.
Because while travelling is absolutely incredible, it is also exhausting. Especially if you’re backpacking low budget, sleeping in crappy hostels, eating cheap food and, simply, not really taking care of yourself. This travellers fatigue is a common problem that we don’t talk about enough.
It’s actually happened to me a couple of times before, with the lowest point when I was so tired that I started crying in a shower in Thailand. So, I took a step back and realized that I had been asking too much of myself, and I was actually spoiling my own fun, by having too much fun. Or trying to have too much fun and not thinking about what I needed from a mental and physical health perspective.
We have created this idea of travel that is just not realistic. It can’t be 100% all the time, you need to take of yourself even when you are on vacation.
Practicing self-care when you travel is hard enough, let alone as a digital nomad. Between work and exploring, the lovely ladies from Female Travel Bloggers give some health advice specifically for travel bloggers.
It is so important to practice self-care when you are travelling. So, learn from my mistakes and use these tips to either avoid or remedy travellers fatigue:
Take a day off
First and foremost, if you are feeling tired and burned out, listen to your body. There is no point in forcing yourself to go out and do activities if you are not going to be able to enjoy them. There is absolutely no shame in taking a day off and just staying in. Usually, that´s what you do at the end of a work week as well, so why not when you´re travelling. In fact, I make sure to have at least one day every week without anything planned.
Just hang out in bed, go to the beach, read a book, watch tv, listen to music, whatever relaxes you. Give yourself some time alone, without social interactions, to recharge and relax. You’ll feel so much better that you’ll be jumping at the chance to go out and explore the next day. Or take another day off if you need to.
Relax with a massage
It is easy to underestimate the physical strain of backpacking. Lugging all your belongings around, sleeping in hostel bunkbeds and night buses can wreak havoc on your back. Even when you make sure your pack fits well, pack light and do stretches, you might still end up with a stiff neck or sore shoulders.
So once in a while, get everything sorted out by a professional masseur. In South East Asia massages are often very affordable so this is something you could easily fit into your budget.
Alternatively, if you’re travelling somewhere more expensive, check to see if there are any deals on Groupon or through your accommodation.
Get a good night sleep
Getting enough sleep can be a challenge. One moment you’re dancing the night away with your new friends and the next, your alarm is going off at 7 am for a cool excursion. Or your roommates have a 5 am flight to catch and forgot to pack the night before. I love hostels, they’re generally really fun, but you’re never guaranteed a good night sleep. It is worth investing in some good earplugs and an eye mask that will help you sleep through even the loudest roommates.
Luckily, naps are also very socially acceptable for backpackers. Especially when you are travelling somewhere warm, a siesta is the perfect way to catch some extra zzz’s. Or once in a while, say no to partying and go to bed early. And instead of all those early mornings, try sleeping in from time to time.
Yes, I know… boring, boring, boring. But it’s true! Taking care of yourself includes the things you put in your body. When you’re travelling, and you’re surrounded by tempting food options like spring rolls and gelato, eating out and trying to save money, it can be hard to make good food choices.
I make sure to always have some healthy snacks like nuts and fruit in my bag, so I don’t splurge on fried snacks. Or I’ll eat a salad for lunch instead of another loaded sandwich. Making sure you’re getting enough vitamins and fiber is essential to keeping your health and energy up, so lay off the alcohol and pizza for a night and opt for some veggies instead 😉
That amazing dish that you’re craving, those cute sandals you spotted, a fancy cup of coffee, a night in a fancy hotel? Go ahead, get it! Every once in a while, give yourself a little gift.
I’m a budget traveler, always looking for the best deal, but occasionally I say “fuck it” and get that slightly over budget thing that I really wanted to have or do. Life’s too short to spend all your time worrying about money. Being frugal is great, but what is the point of saving money if you’re not spending it on things that make you happy.
Treat yo self!
The one thing missing on this list, as you might have noticed, is exercise. For the simple reason that I don’t do it and I only recommend things from personal experience. I’m an incredibly lazy person and the only types of exercise I enjoy are all travel related: walking around cities, hiking in the mountains and swimming to cool off on a hot day. Well, that and the occasional naked work out 😉
But, if you are used to working out, a lack of exercise while you are travelling can really bring you down. Luckily running is something you can do anywhere, so bring a set of work-out clothes and running shoes and you get those endorphins even while travelling. Or check if there are any gyms around that offer day passes.
Do you ever feel burned out while traveling? How do you practice self care while traveling? Hit me up in the comments with your tips and recommendations.
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11 thoughts on “Tips for Selfcare When You Travel”
very interesting article, I´ve never heard the term traveler´s fatigue before but I sure have felt it 🙂 All the sights blending into one. And you´re so right – there is no point in forcing anything, we need to listen to our bodies and rest sometimes. Actually, this reminds me of that quote “when you get tired learn to rest, not quit”, not sure who said it first. Also it makes me wonder: how do you feel about Slow Travel?
Thank you, I think it’s one of things we all known but don’t take our own advice enough 😉 I definitely support slow travel, taking the time to really experience a place instead of just blazing through the highlights. It’s good to be concious of the places you go and contribute, instead of only take.
I absolutely agree with this. It is crazy because you sort of forget to do this when you travel!
Exactly, until you get to a point where you’re just not enjoying yourself anymore. Such a shame
Love these tips! I am a total planner and so, I often fall into where I’m so exhausted on my trip that I don’t think I’m even enjoying it anymore or absorbing what I’m seeing. Love these tips!
Thank you, I’m so glad you like them and I hope they can help you avoid that exhaustion on your next trip!