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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84 thoughts on “How to Survive a Case of The Travellers Blues”
I love this post. I definitely agree that after traveling for long periods of time, it does get a bit old. Sometimes all we need is a little bit of home to help you bounce back 🙂
Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I totally agree 🙂
Very nice advice. I’ve never been gone for more than three months (one vacation through Europe and two months working in a kid’s camp), but I did find myself missing home, or the normal life. I hope to do a several month walkabout in a few years, and definitely will not try to do everything every day.
Good to hear – taking the time to veg out will do you a world of good 🙂
Thank you for the post! I haven’t experienced TB yet, but seeing what your described I know it will come one day and now I have the treatments at hand.
Thank you for reading! I hope you will be well equipped when you do first encounter the dreaded TB! 😉
This is really great advice. I haven’t done too much backpacking, but living in a foreign country I can definitely relate to feeling like I need to “make the most” out of each every day, and then feeling guilty when I’m just not motivated to do anything. So far the couch potato approach has been my favorite way of dealing with it.
The couch potato and the adrenaline are my personal favourites – but the couch potato is definitely the easiest and cheapest way to deal with it!
This made me laugh so much :’) Taking a chilled day every once in a while is definitely a must when you’re away for longer periods of time – I do so much walking and exploring when travelling that I always seem to return wearier! I think it’s a classic case of “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I may as well just carry on at 100 mph to see everything”
That’s exactly right! I have done it myself way too many times. Thanks for reading 🙂
I have had this feeling, on occasion. Sensory overload is a wake-up call, which I handle in a variety of the ways you mention above. Traveling without a strict agenda (often imposed by friends and family) is a good way to minimize such a burden.
Totally agree! Travel plans with no wriggle room will intensify the down feeling
I don’t have traveler’s blues, per se, but I am into my fourth month of serving in the Peace Corps and feel like I’ve hit my first wall. I think some of your suggestions could work perfectly well in my situation, too! Thank you for posting. 🙂
Wow – how is life in the Peace Corps? I hope you get passed this first wall soon 🙂
Thank you. Life in the Peace Corps is full of ups and downs. I’m grateful to be here, though.
Good to hear 🙂
This entry is just what I needed to read today! Thanks for writing it. I never can let myself relax, so I think couch potato would be good for me!
The couch potato is definitely one of the best fixes. It’s tough being a ‘go, go, go’ kinda person – definitely makes it hard to slow down.
I so look forward to my first case of Travelers Blues… and now I will know just how to handle them!
I first went to sea at 18 and my Dad told me that I would be home sick (TB?) at least once in the first few months. He’d been at sea during the war. His cure was to have a beer, a good meal and to go to bed early, and in the morning the world will look a lot more positive. From experience this worked for me :-o)
Keep the blogs coming . . .
I think your dad and I have very similar views on how to cope with TB/homesickness. The beer is an especially good touch! Thanks for reading 🙂
Yes it seems it is the 4th week of our trips that my late wife and I started to miss home and felt BLAH. For us it was just the hectic visiting of sites we wanted to see. We liked to just find a nice park and relax and every once in a while we tried to find a familiar restaurant to have a bite to eat. In Oslo of all places we found a restaurant chain we have at home and went in and had a lovely meal with time chatting with our waitress and bar tender. We left so refreshed, the next day we found a nice park that was known for its statues and just enjoyed a picnic and quiet walk. WONDERFULLY refreshing. Have more great adventures.
Brilliant post! I’m quite familiar with TB. Thanks for your suggestions to combat it.
I just want to say how much I enjoy reading your blog! The last few posts you have made with some travelling tips, and especially this post, have really helped me with the culture shock I’ve been experiencing during my stay here in the Philippines. I’ll be here for about 6 months (maybe longer) for an internship. I am 3 weeks in and have experience all kinds of emotions. This post really helped me realize its okay to couch potato in a foreign country
Binge watching movies and eating skittles sounds like the perfect way to cure TB lol. Nicely done. Looking forward to being much more active on your great site!
I have n idea whether it was a traveller blues, but I once experienced of laziness while travelling to a city. for about 4 days, i did nothing but spending time in hostel reading my books between sleeping and eating. ehm…
Sometimes you just seriously need that chill out time!
Some really helpful thoughts and tips to keep in mind for when my partner and I start our backpacking adventures (8 weeks to go!). Although, we’ll have each other to be ratty with, which should help take the edge off of the blues 🙂
I’ve been on the road for a year with my partner and I think it makes it more likely you’ll succumb to be honest! If one of you feels like a rest day the chances are the other one won’t, and there’s this vague sense that you’re ruining the other person’s trip if you insist on watching movies and eating skittles instead of seeing a sight or whatever. Silly obviously, resting is important, but we’ve noticed ourselves doing this. Loads of positives to travelling together as well obviously, but this has been a pitfall in our experience!
How exciting! Where will you be heading on this adventure?
We are heading to Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and possibly Java and Bali, over around a five month period. Six weeks till take off – cannot wait!
That will be incredible! I cannot wait to read about Vietnam 🙂
I think your advice also applies to every day life. Sometimes you just have to take a break and do something different. Getting lost in a good book always helps me, whether I am on the road or at home. Good blog. –Curt
Absolutely! Got any good book recommendations?
Ha, lots… Peggy and I have a library of about 3,000. But maybe some of the great travel books would be most appropriate to re-inspire… For something light and humorous, Bill Bryson’s trip down the Appalachian Trail or John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. If you don’t mind a bit of cynicism, anything by Paul Theroux, but he is an acquired taste. One of my favorites: Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Classics: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen and Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. Enjoy. –Curt
I have made a note of all of these and will be downloading them onto my e-reader pronto! Thanks so much Curt 🙂
Welcome! 🙂 –Curt
This is so true! Everyone thinks it’s fun and easy to be abroad for long periods of time but sometimes it’s exhausting and monotonous. Good recovery ideas!
Absolutely! I remember thinking that long term trips would be easy, but often they really aren’t! Thanks for reading 🙂
Reblogged this on The Young Sydneysider and commented:
Beautiful article that covers the dreaded “Traveller’s Blues” and describes methods that wonderfully deal with such an illness. Great travel advice and life advice!
I definitely get that sometimes, however when you step it up a little in your adventures, things change a lot…
I haven’t yet had the pleasure of being on the road long enough to experience this! Though I do get tired by the end of a 10-day trip (we vacation HARD). I’ll keep these tips in mind for when we get to that point, though!
And I did actually try vegemite once… I’m all for sausage rolls and Fizzlers, but I seriously don’t understand you Aussies with that one… 🙂
Okay but HOW did you try it? Cause if you did the old spoon full job then of course you’ll think its disgusting! Vegemite consumption is a fine art ha
We spread a very small amount on toast. Fortunately we didn’t have mean Aussie friends convincing us to take a spoonful of it 😀
Was the toast white bread? And was it very heavily buttered first? Makes all the difference!
Oh my! It’s been so long, I don’t remember! Perhaps I’ll have to give it one more go the next time I find myself in Oz 🙂
I reckon that ain’t a bad idea!
Study Abroad programs should definitely make this required reading so students don’t feel so freaking guilty when they hole up for a whole day watching Netflix and eating nutella out of the jar in their Florence apartments! 🙂
Hahaha I love this comment! Please feel free to share this post with anyone you know doing a Study Abroad 🙂
Lovely post with different prospective.
Thank you very much 🙂
I can totally relate to this. Except for me, it doesn’t always take a few months, more like a week or more haha I am headed to Asia next year for a few months and I KNOW I will get the Traveler Blues.. but I will for sure be “couch potatoeing” lol
Check out my blog for travel posts, I know I’m going to be following yours!- https://courtneylivin.wordpress.com
Where in Asia are you heading? And I will check out your blog right now! 🙂
Really enjoyed this post! Although I’m not travelling full-time, I think it can sometimes be too easy to build expectations of a trip in the planning process, and then almost miss the moments when you’re actually there. If I am ever travelling for a long period of time, I’ll definitely remember these tips!
Thanks for reading, I totally know what you mean! Do you have any trips coming up?
I’m intending on studying in Adelaide for the most-part of next year, so hopefully a few trips in Australia and New Zealand (amongst doing work)!
Where in Adelaide will you be studying? Radelaide is my home town!
I’m studying at the University of Adelaide for my semester abroad. Will be sure to have a look at any of your Aus posts then -any tips of what to see/do there from a local would be more than welcome!☺️
Awesome! Adelaide is a small city that doesn’t look like it has a lot to offer at first glance, but once you make a few friends and have been there longer than a few weeks you will surely grow to love it! There is a lot more there than meets the eye 🙂
Thank you, I can’t wait!
I’ve definitely had it but found it was easy just to keep busy and then do stuff that you might usually do when you were at home.
I so loved this post. Thankyou for acknowledging this. I sometimes have to have a day of sleeping in, then reading, then eating, then contemplating my navel, then god forbid watching TV just to disappear and then usually feel fired up and ready to go again the next day. Great to not need to feel guilty anymore :).
Definitely no need to feel guilty! As for the contemplating your navel part – reading that had me in stitches ha!
I was looking for new reading material and I stumbled upon your blog. Great post. Well written and inspiring. Looking forward to coming back and explore other ones you have.
When hit with the travellers blues I recommend walking to the loneliest but most beautiful place and then just sit and wait for it to disappear.
This is a great post, thank you! 🙂 It’s nice to read about travellers blues from someone else, as I haven’t seen many people write about it.
As a long-term traveller, I think that it’s almost impossible to avoid the occasional TB. I just had one bout last week. Besides a change of scenery, it helped to get inspired. I checked places I want to see around the world, read about other people’s trips and realized how much I actually prefer traveling to staying still. 🙂
Fantastic! I love hearing about different ways people cure their TB! I will keep your method in mind 🙂
Have definitely been there and have big regrets now. We had been traveling almost daily for over 2 months when we went to New Zealand for the first time. I was so burned out I didn’t enjoy it much at all. Big regrets now of course.
That sucks 🙁 Hopefully next time you go on a big trip you are better equipped to handle the burn outs <3
Nice! Being full-time employees and having a family, we do not have an opportunity to engage in long-term travel. Thus, we rarely experience travel blues. But sometimes, especially during multi-day adventures up in the mountains, we do long for home. 🙂
Great article. So important to look fter yourself. Thank you. DL