Feeling sluggish, globe trotter? Here’s some news that might perk you up: newfound energy is never really out of reach. You just need to know what you’re dealing with before you can actually deal with it.
Whether you’re feeling mentally drained, physically strained, or all-around depleted, I come bearing good news. It’s possible to overcome travel burnout before, during, and after it strikes. Above all else, prioritize resting and recharging, especially if you’re taking longer trips. Not being well-rested is not your friend.
Before we discuss how to handle travel tiredness, let’s talk about how and why it typically happens.
Common Reasons for Travel Fatigue
There are plenty of reasons to be tired, especially while traveling. And it’s natural to become wholly exhausted while globe trotting. In turn, identifying some causes can point us to the true solution’s direction.
Here are some reasons why traveling might be making you so, so tired.
- Your mood. Our psychological state impacts our energy level. If you’re stressed or anxious, it can manifest into fatigue.
- Lack of stimulation. Boredom contributes to tiredness. If your brain or body craves more action, you may feel flat.
- Shifts in altitude. Traveling by plane, you’re getting less oxygen. Lower oxygen levels = more work for your brain and body.
- Dehydration. Drink plenty of water, especially while flying. Due to reduced levels of moisture, airplane dehydration is common. Without proper hydration, fatigue is inevitable.
- Jet lag.
- An intense itinerary.
- Poor eating habits.
- Drastic shifts to your daily routine.
- Pressure to stay active when you’re already drained.
Eager to get back on your feet and brave the world with gusto? Backed by science, here are 11 ways to avoid and alleviate travel fatigue.
Take a Nap
Sometimes the correct answer is the simplest one. Make time to take a nap. You probably need one if you’re doing too much or spreading yourself too thin. Plus, if you’re drained while you’re out and about, are you really making the most of your trip?
Prioritize rest. There’s no shame in taking an afternoon siesta on vacay, even for just 20 minutes. Chances are, you’ll wake up refreshed. You’ll definitely be more energized than if you keep running on empty.
Get a Solid Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation is no joke. Traveling messes with our circadian rhythm, and our sleep routine often suffers the most. For the first couple of nights, set a sleep schedule and stick to it. No matter your plans, proper rest is in your best interest. So pay attention to your needs.
The better we sleep, the fuller those good times while globetrotting can be.
Do you sometimes suffer from FOMO? You may suffer from chronic fatigue too. Don’t let your desire to do it all cause you to dismiss your need for rest, relaxation, and solitude. Remember, your trip is what you make it. And on vacation, chilling can be part of the fun.
I’m not saying to throw out your itinerary, but make your activities about quality, not quantity. Sometimes, passive activities can prove just as enriching, and a balance of both makes a well-rounded trip. You’re probably headed for a crash if you’ve been going nonstop. Decompress. Allow your system to reset with not missing out in mind.
Pampering yourself is about more than indulging. If you can afford it, book a massage. It’s a great way to cope with travel fatigue. Some trips require us to walk for hours on end, climb, hike, and carry around our overpacked suitcases. Give your body a break before it takes one via fatigue.
And if you want to go all out, make it a spa day.
Obviously, food is a major energy source, and we are indeed what we eat in some ways. Heavy, nutrient-lacking foods mostly just make us feel heavy. However, sticking to our diet staples can be tricky while traveling. And if you’re anything like me, one of your favorite parts of any trip is tasting the local flavor. Still, adventurous eating doesn’t have to include throwing every healthy habit out the window. And experts say you really shouldn’t.
Dieticians will tell you: a poor diet is a recipe for fatigue. So be mindful of what and when you’re eating. Indulging doesn’t have to be off the menu, but fresh fruits and vegetables should be on it too, when possible. If you love to indulge at dinner, opt for healthier snacks in the day, shop at local markets, and cook meals between outings.
For a Full Day, Take It Easy
Once in a while, we just need to do nothing. Don’t be ashamed to say, “I’m too tired for any of this.” On vacation or not, your well-being comes first. And if you want a natural boost in energy, accepting where you’re at, rather than fighting against it, might be precisely what you need.
Take the whole day off with tomorrow in mind.
Don’t Take Your Plans Too Seriously
There’s nothing more tiring than turning your dream vacation into a task. Sometimes, a rigid itinerary can leave us feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. Stop cramming. If you’re sick of sightseeing or too tired to hit the next plotted point, doing it anyway isn’t what you really want, no matter how fun in theory.
It’s okay not to do everything you envisioned. Again, save your energy for the things that matter most. Let everything else be an option, not a must. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans, right? Leave room in your schedule to mix things up. You’ll likely live it up in some unexpected ways.
Try Something New
Speaking of mixing things up, fatigue can be a sign that it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re burnt out on museums and the world around you feels flat, give yourself some new stimuli.
Seize the day and see where it takes you. Take an aimless walk with an open mind. You never know what’s around the corner, and that’s often the point.
No matter where we travel, we can’t escape ourselves. Our problems and responsibilities often travel with us, even if we attempt to leave them all behind. And some issues become magnified when we’re given enough breathing room to reflect.
Trying to “flee” our current state can lead to crippling fatigue. Getting away from it all may be ideal, but attempting to abandon our ongoing reality can have the opposite effect. That’s why it helps to keep in touch with loved ones while traveling, especially if we’re going through something heavy. Connecting helps us stay centered and less bogged down with whatever weighs on us. On top of that, sharing travel anecdotes can be incredibly energizing.
Our energy levels benefit from balance. If you’re in a situation where you can’t reach out, don’t isolate yourself. Look within and start writing things down. Make an active effort to productively clear your head. Meditate in a scenic spot or keep a travel journal. Remember to take a deep breath. If you’re lonely but off the grid, write a letter to a friend. Staying connected can help us feel lighter and less fatigued.
When in doubt, keep moving. To truly combat travel fatigue, it’s often crucial to move around, no matter how counterintuitive that sounds. Yes, you need adequate rest, but you need exercise too. When we get our blood flowing, we release energizing feel-good chemicals, and take care of ourselves in the process.
Like our diets and sleep schedules, self-care shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Exercising may sound like a drag if you’re feeling sluggish, but it could be the pick-me-up you need. It doesn’t have to be strenuous; just get moving. Being sedentary is a slippery slope that can lead to ongoing fatigue. Sitting around nonstop, your energy may drop too low to do anything. And where’s the fun in that?
Embrace the Moment
No matter where it stems from, fatigue is often a vicious cycle. Left unaddressed, it can become an ingrained part of our routine. In turn, we don’t always realize just how tired we really are. Do a personal check-in right now.
If you’re fatigued 24/7, travel fatigue will likely be inevitable. Ensure you’re taking care of yourself regularly, especially right before your trip. And talk to your doctor if your fatigue just won’t go away.
No matter your travel plans, combatting fatigue often starts with embracing what’s right in front of you. Whether you’re hitting the road or on the way to Bali, live in this moment. By putting a little less focus on what you intend to do or should be doing and focusing on the present moment and your surroundings, you’ll free yourself up. And feeling free can help significantly.
Embracing where you’re at, inside and out, can be uniquely reinvigorating. Best of all, it doesn’t require much out of you.
Read More: How To Cope With the Post Travel Blues