Has this ever happened to you?
You dream about a trip for days, weeks, months, possibly even years. One day, something happens and you finally get to take the plunge and book flights. You pack days (or weeks) before you need to leave, just because you are so excited. You count down the days. You go to sleep each night thinking about how amazing your trip will be. Eventually, the day comes when you finally get to fly away on this adventure. The first few days are an excitable blur. The first week, you can’t really stop smiling. The second and third weeks (or months) provide continued high levels enthusiasm. You fall in love with seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new foods.
But then something changes.
Suddenly seeing a new castle just doesn’t thrill you. Having the same hostel conversations becomes monotonous. You feel fatigued and tired. You might find yourself sick of living out of a backpack. Maybe you miss something from home. Maybe you just feel like you have lost that spark, that energy, your lust for exploring.
Before you know it, you are saying hello to a rip-roaring case of the Travellers Blues.
What exactly are the Travellers Blues?
Unlike the Post-Travel Blues which arise after a trip has ended, the Travellers Blues can spring up at any time, in any place, in even the most seasoned of long term travellers.
In a day to day non travel life, it is normal for people to have good days, bad days and days where they just want to do nothing and veg out on the couch while watching Law & Order SVU for 12 episodes straight.
However, when people travel, even for extended periods of time, there is this thing in the back of your mind telling you to seize every opportunity and make the most of every day. Now this may sound totally wonderful, and don’t get me wrong, it can be! But after a while, making the most of every day can start to take its toll on you. Exploring can start to feel like a chore. You may even start to resent being on the road. But because you don’t want to waste any precious time, you soldier on, day after day, until finally, you find yourself completely and utterly burnt out.
Is there a cure?
Absolutely! Most cases of the Travellers Blues last between 1-5 days and almost all sufferers can expect to bounce back and make a full recovery.
What is the treatment?
Like many illnesses or diseases, there are numerous treatment options, and not all will work perfectly for each sufferer. So, curing TB (not tuberculosis, the other TB) may require some trial and error. But don’t fear, you will find something that works for you.
Popular treatment options include:
The Couch Potato
The couch potato method is exactly what it sounds like. It involves taking a day or two to do literally nothing! The simple action of taking the time to do nothing but veg out can reinvigorate your travelling spirit.
I once cured a case of TB by heading to a movie theatre, watching three films in a row and eating more skittles than anyone should ever consume in one day. The next day, I was seeing everything through fresh eyes again and as a traveller, I felt perfectly renewed and refreshed.
The Change of Scenery
Sometimes curing a case of Travellers Blues is as simple as forcing yourself to change it up. For example, backpacking through Europe is amazing, but after a while can kinda start to blur together a bit – putting you at greater risk of developing TB. So, if you start to feel like that ‘blue’ feeling is creeping in, nip it in the bud early by heading somewhere so special, so amazing and so different that you can combat your TB in its early stages.
The New ‘Do
Get a haircut. I have no idea why, but something about a new look can just seem to work wonders. This treatment should be used in conjunction with the ‘Slice of Home’ (see below) for best results.
The Slice of Home
Sometimes you just need something that reminds you of back home to really bring you out of a funk. For me personally, nothing does this better than devouring some vegemite on buttered toast. Find something that reminds you of home and indulge in it.
The absolute best cure for TB is a massive rush of adrenaline! Skydiving and bungee jumping are the absolute best options, so find out where the nearest bungee or skydiving base is and make a beeline for it. The massive dose of adrenaline that will course through your veins afterwards will give you a lift you didn’t even know was possible, and this flows on to your travel enthusiasm – it gets lifted up too.
Sometimes you simply gotta make like ET and phone (or skype) home. Hearing about the life you left behind can help to remind you of why you went travelling in the first place; plus, a good conversation with an encouraging friend or family member can do wonders.
How can you reduce your risk of developing the Travellers Blues?
There is no exact science when it comes to preventing TB, but there are a couple of steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak occurring.
Mindfulness can make a really big difference. Take the time each day to think about why you are travelling, and what you want to gain from this particular trip. Ask yourself what you want to achieve or experience. Increasing your awareness can improve your appreciation of your time to explore, and can help you to stay motivated.
Try to have semi-regular ‘chill out’ days and on these days, do whatever it takes to recharge your batteries. It may be that you spend the entire day sleeping, or binge watching foreign Netflix, or even just reading a book in a pretty spot, do whatever works for you. Regular recharge days are the key to longevity in extended trips abroad.
Now go forth, take care of yourself, take the time to slow down and travel the way that suits you!
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