“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.
Anais Nin

What is Travel Fatigue?

I referred to the same problem as Backpacker’s Syndrome in previous posts. I changed the name when I realized that Backpacker’s Syndrome popularly means back strain students receive from carrying too many heavy books in their backpacks.

Travel Fatigue is one of the most common forms of travel burnout for Fifty Plus Nomads who travel for extended periods. Travel Fatigue is a sense of exhaustion from all the demands of extended travel.

Travel Fatigue generally manifests itself in the desire to stop any or all of the following:

  • Adapting to a new place.
  • Facing demanding vendors (common in the Third World);
  • Dealing with the logistics of planning your trip (finding a hotel/ place to eat/ etc.).

Instead, you want to retreat from the world for a while. At some time or another along the way, you may even wish you’d stayed home.

Fortunately, these trying times seldom last more than a few days or at most a couple of weeks. However, Travel Fatigue can get so frustrating that some travelers abandon their dream and go home earlier than planned.

Even if you have money and travel in a group on a multiple-day tour (or a cruise ship), traveling can be tiring.

Steps to Overcome Travel Fatigue

How can you get over the Travel Fatigue? Here are a couple of tips that have worked well for me:


  • If you get a minor illness on the road, spend money on a relaxing, quiet room. Make sure that the place has a comfortable temperature. Nothing is more miserable than trying to sleep in a hot or cold room when you don’t feel well.
  • Don’t travel if you can avoid it.
  • If you feel tired, spend a couple of days in your room watching TV, reading, and relaxing. Anticipate that you will need to spend one or two days a month just hanging out. Plan some downtime, particularly after traveling on public transportation or an airplane for a long time.
  • Do the same stuff you like to do at home. For me, seeing a movie is the best activity when I need to relax after traveling for an extended time. (Just make sure that the movie is not dubbed. Usually, only films for children are dubbed in most countries). It can also be an excellent way to learn about the culture. I have watched censored films in Singapore, stood to pay respect for a recorded announcement from the King in Thailand, and eaten fried octopus instead of popcorn in Hong Kong.
  • If you are addicted to the internet, reduce or eliminate it for a while. You are usually better off living in the moment rather than engaging all the time with people and things from your past.

Pamper Yourself

  • Live a life of luxury for a day or two. Stay in a famous hotel, eat at a gourmet restaurant, and take a drink at a high-class bar or nightclub. Sometimes these experiences also give you great memories to share with your friends.
  • Seek out little “tastes of home” while on the road. If you think things like “I wish these people were more like the people at home,” eat food from your home country or shop at a familiar store. Do these “home country” type activities for more than a few days, and you’ll probably be ready to return to local foods and activities.

Reflect On Your Experiences

  • Keep a journal or scrapbook. Use it both to record what you have seen and recollect your thoughts. Writing your feelings helps you analyze them more accurately and see how they change over time.
  • Be prepared to experience discomfort that things are not done the same way in your destination as you expect. The Great Courses Plus (now called Wondrium) has an excellent series on Intercultural Communication that helps explain the difference between different cultures worldwide. (Check out the remarkable guidebook series to cultural differences called Culture Shock as well). You will understand why people act as they do if you have some cultural background. You will also be able to develop a strategy (the best I know is using humor) to deal with these frustrations.

Fifty Plus Nomad offers personalized workshops and courses in Spanish, English, Living and Traveling in Mexico, and Long-Term Travel Book a Two-hour Free Sample Introductory Session

Want More Information About Travel Fatigue?

Check out this post from Flight Fud (which also discusses jet lag).

Additional Long-Term Travel Posts From Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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