So I have something shameful to admit. And I never thought this sentence will leave my mouth. Ever. But… I’m tired of travelling.
You say, whattttt?
I’m serious. I think I’m suffering from travellers burn out. ‘Are you taking the piss’ – I hear you say. Am I tired of the most beautiful sceneries, the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the most memorable deep conversations with strangers, ticking off my bucket list, taking postcard like pictures, drinking beer until the early hours, topping up my tan and spending my days on white sand beaches? Yes, you’ve heard it right. I’m tired of it.
Hours spent in transition and ALL that research
The thing is, yes travelling is beautiful and yes travelling is something I’ve always wanted to do and yes, it’s only been 10 weeks since I’m gone. 10 weeks is not a long time if you stay in the same location and go to the same office and eat the same food day in and day out, but… 10 weeks here mean that I’ve covered 6 countries and have already been to 21 cities. I don’t even wanna try counting how many hours I’ve spent on buses, trains, planes, taxis and ferries. And if my math skills don’t lie… 21 cities in 10 weeks mean that I’ve been changing my location approximately every 3 days.
Every flipping 3 days! Now that I put it like this I feel like I should pat myself on the back. Do you know what being on a move every 3 days means? It means that you can never unpack your backpack properly because you will have to pack it again. (And who can be bothered to do that?) It means that every 2-3 days you need to research and book two the most important things in your life – your transportation and your accommodation. I’m not even gonna start talking about all the research you have to do when you arrive at the new destination cause let’s be realistic you probably winged it and you don’t know much about it anyways.
Satisfying your basic physical needs is actually not that easy
Oh and how about satisfying your basic human needs like ‘where am I going to buy some water or where will I eat? Is the food gonna poison me or will I be lucky this time?’. And how about when you have to deal with the unexpected? What do you do when your luggage gets lost or you have to be hospitalised or you arrive at the hostel and it’s ridden with bed bugs or you lose your bank card? (And yes all of those things happened to me but I’ve met people who had it soooo much worse.) But eh none of this matters because once those three days are over you do that all over again just in another unknown destination. And here you are holding another map, exploring another city.
Constantly adapting to your surroundings
On top of fulfilling your basic needs and putting together your never ending ‘things to see’ list you are always constantly surrounded by a) other fellow travellers and b) new cultures. And you have to adapt to both.
a) Other travellers
Usually you can relate more to a) type of people. You are all pretty much in the same boat experiencing pretty much the same things however… honestly how many times do you reckon you can tell the same story about yourself over and over again until you are bored of yourself and your pretty average life? Seriously, how long will it take you? A week? Two weeks? I really want to start making up stories about my life. Like you know, the ones where my fiance ran away with my sister and here I am rediscovering myself on a ‘eat, pray, love’ kinda adventure. You get the point. Just of course, I would be more creative than that.
b) New cultures and local people
Whilst b) type of people are of course more diverse and it takes much more inner strength for you to adapt to their culture. And c’mon you kind of have to. You are in their country not the other way round. So even if people stare at you or touch you or ask you to hold their babies whilst they are taking pictures of you… you know, you just stand there silently and smile. Look ma, I’m just casually hanging out with the locals. (On a separate note, seriously what are they gonna do with my pictures? Especially men… as one of my good friend said do you think they walk around their town showing that picture saying ‘look I’ve got married to Madonna?’. I don’t know)
So can one be blamed for being tired?
I know that it sounds ridiculous to be burnt out! But travellers brain is constantly overloaded with new information. I mean I look at the pictures I took two weeks ago and I’m like ‘wow, totally forgot that this happened’. I’m starting to forget where exactly I met my other fellow travellers (who have now become my friends) let alone some of the stories they told me. Sorry, but our brains are not infinite and they can’t store that much information. Everything just blends into one big mish mash. (Or maybe these are just early signs of dementia? I am not too sure.)
Anyways… I’m writing this because I know I’m not alone in this. Because I know it sounds stupid to people who have never done this but I also know that travellers burn out is a real thing. Or is it not? And I know that different people have different remedies for it. Funilly enough I realised that my remedy is work. Work that isn’t related to travelling at all. Work that earns me money. And then, of course, a change of my surroundings. A nice hotel room, a pool and maybe room service for the next couple of days. Didn’t I say that I am a shitty backpacker?
P.S. I actually did get called ‘Miss 5 star’ by one of the guys I met in Myanmar. Simply because I ran away from a hostel which had bedbugs and ended up in a 5 star hotel. No regrets here.