Managing Travel Fatigue: What Type of Traveler are You?

Managing Travel Fatigue: What Type of Traveler are You?

There’s a phenomenon in travel we’re likely all familiar with. You get to a new place or country and only have a few days; you’ll never be here again. Time to rev up the stoke engine and see as many things as possible in your abbreviated time!

Jumping with Joy: Before travel fatigue sets in

There’s something to be said for this method of wander. It’s true that you’ll visit many countries and destinations only once. Because of that, the optimum number of stops and sights must be carefully planned and executed.

Why do many of us tend to burn out by the end of of a trip, and even mutter scornfully that we need a vacation from our vacation?

Besides warbling time zones and sensory overload, I believe destination hopping and overreaching to be the biggest contributors to travel fatigue.

The wisdom of destination hopping will thus be the focus of this article.

There’s no rule stating travel has to be relaxed, or even fun (I’ve had too many trips that were downright grueling and nearly irredeemable to admit that as my personal travel-purpose). However, most of us are out there to have the best experience possible.

Not travel, but general fatigue: Mountain climbing in Tibet
For example, I thought this place was great until I could hardly breathe and nearly went blind. Climb mountains with friends, people.

Gotta ask the hard questions, then. Is destination hopping worth the trouble? And if it is, to what degree?

Tough questions demand some exposition, so we’ll get to that now by classifying the different kinds of travelers and their motivations.

Traveler Categories

Here I’ll be dissecting people’s different travel motivations. With these in mind we can then decide whether destination hopping or over-extending are worth it in lieu of your which one you may fall under.

Humans are funny in our desire for travel. We crave comfort and familiarity, and studies show that routine keeps us sane. And yet, so many of us have the desire to sprint in the opposite direction by wandering to new places and disrupting our comfort zones.

Before the travel fatigue sets in

Perhaps this zonal expansion drives us. A larger comfort zone equates to more general comfort and a happier life. New experiences drive this expansion, and traveling generates new experiences.

Without further ado, then, we have…

The Experience-Gatherer

Triggering new experiences is at least one reason many enjoy touring the planet, myself included. If this works as a prime mover, then it’s not far-fetched to claim that destination hopping and tiring yourself out can be justified.

In fact, by forcing you into new experiences and causing some discomfort, destination hopping accelerates the expansion of your comfort zone and the accrual of your experiences.

Base Jumping in Yosemite

Those who seek long-term changes in their person, new experiences, and an expanded comfort zone can thus destination hop free of guilt. For this type, there’s a reason class-4 fun exists. It may not be fantastic when it’s happening, but you’re going to look back fondly and understand how it changed you.

The Vacationer

Travel isn’t always synonymous with overstepping the comfort zone and new experiences. Familiarity in your home life can often become oppressive, and no one’s psychology craves an oppressive routine.

Thanks to that, many of us want to sink into the comfort of vacation. This word, as opposed to the ambiguous ‘travel’, often conjures up images of relaxation and escape.

The sea relieves travel fatigue if plunged into

When trying to take a break and treat yourself to vacation it may be ill-advised to over-extend and try to see it all. If you’re looking to unwind, after all, occupying every train, plane, and automobile between here and Timbuktu won’t jive with your goals.

To slow down and take it all in is to have a vacation that’s true to that word’s connotations. If you end up more fatigued by trying to see it all then you’re probably selling your motivations short.

The In-between-er

Wait, why’d we decide to choose Bali over Koh Pha Ngan? Which one was the moon-party island and did anyone bring insect repellent? Is there malaria in Bali??

Bali, a hard place to accrue travel fatigue
Sure looks malarial

There was a time in every travelers life when the game was new. Your passport was as fresh as your tail was bushy, and bright-eyed you set off into the big bad world.

For the noob, that moment of departure is fraught with anxiety. You’re not quite sure what you want from traveling, or how it will make you feel. At this stage you’re in between motivations and life stages and hoping travel can sort you out.

The answer here is, unfortunately and excitingly, eponymous to these travelers. When you’re new and decide to pit yourself against a destination you’ve got to find out which direction you’re leaning toward.

If anything causes travel fatigue, it's long distance buses

My suggestion is to destination-hop and wear yourself out early so you understand the madness that travel can foster. Only then will you have conquered the itchy ‘gotta see it all’ attitude and drummed up the mythical mind-set of ‘f*** this I’m never boarding a long-distance bus again’.

Destination hopping will help turn an in-between-er into a jaded expat right quick if done haphazardly enough.

The Full-Timer

You’ve been everywhere, man. Ran with the bulls, swam with the whale sharks, made the regrettable bar-street decisions and bribed your way out of charges you’ll need a few drinks to open up about. You’re seasoned, practiced, and probably jaded. That’s right; you’re a full-time traveler.

Swimming with creatures the size of school buses
Just an ordinary Tuesday

Someone who’s been on the road for a few years knows what they want (or, since they’ve been on the road for a few years, it’s possible that the complete opposite is true). This traveler’s mode of locomotion is entrenched and there’s probably no reason to change it.

What the full-timer (this includes digital nomads and online entrepreneurs) has in abundance is time. Destination hopping is often a function of too much to see in too little time. Thus, it’s ill-advised to wear yourself out on the road if you’re always on the road. If there’s one type of traveler that shouldn’t be overreaching, it’s the full-timer.

Not that these folks need me to tell them what to do anyways.

The Na-I’d-Prefer-Not-to-be-Categorized-Thanks-er

It’s 2020. Time to shirk labels and see the world for the post-modern mess-hall it’s become. This traveler just wants to get out there and let the universe have its way with them. Labels are about as important as having a plan or remembering your tinder date’s name – not very.

Desert roads
Wherever the road takes you, but preferably somewhere with craft beer

To be fair, a good number of folks from a wide range don’t fit neatly into the nominations above. This makes it harder to philosophize about whether they should slow it down or not, so we’ve gotta get all nebulous about it.

Your values are likely to inform your best travel decisions. Every trip starts with an idea. By that I mean they all actually begin once the commitment has been made. Your expectations are as much a function of your traveling career as is the destination, because they color the place a certain tone before you ever land there.

If you’ve got big expectations and plans, you’re more likely to destination hop. A long view will prioritize sucking all the marrow out your intended spot. A folding beach-chair and variegated sunsets are unlikely to satisfy someone with lofty expectations.

Those with high expectations are likely to get travel fatigue

Those with fewer expectations (or none) ought to be fine riding the ebb. They can flow into a trip and make decisions as they move along, navigating by feel. This makes destination hopping largely unnecessary and fatigue less likely.

Which leads into the final part of any trip: the appraisal. What are you going to see when you look back? For those with big expectations, regret is going to be in the rear-view should you have failed to go everywhere you wanted to. I’m not convinced hindsight is 20-20; just because you were dead-tired doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have done more (says the mind awash in expectations).

Post travel-fatigue lie down

There’s more leeway for a laissez-faire tourist. Those who don’t know or consider what will happen can be surprised or delighted by almost anything, and aren’t likely to kick themselves for failing to do things they never planned on doing anyways.

In General, is it Worth it to Destination Hop?

We can see from the above that fatiguing yourself on vacation isn’t always bad. Feeling good and relaxation aren’t what travel is about for many people. However, it’s important to understand your travel goals before you decide to choose a simple base or traverse the whole of a country.

If you don’t have goals, I suggest managing your expectations. If you’ve got big ones then be ready to wear yourself out living up to them. Should you find a way to temper expectation, you’ll get to come back from a trip feeling refreshed.

I hope this analysis is helpful. We tend not to think about travel through the lens of reasons and results, but we can all improve our experiences by doing so.

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