Can travel be too much?

photo credit: Flickr/amalthya

I recently stumbled across a list of signs you travel too much compiled by Nomadic Matt a while ago. After reading it, I started thinking and comparing the funny points to my real life experiences. If I definitely do not recognize airports by their codes – as I generally take the harder, more rewarding overland routes – or only watch or read travel oriented media, I can agree with the bottom line: travel can be too much.

I may compare travel with a fix: there may be many different kinds of alcohol and drugs, but after you have done most – if not all of them – what is left? And what have you gained?

Standing in front of the umpteenth monument or enjoying the hospitality of a new culture for another day during a very long time on the road can still be uplifting, if we still find a sense in it. However, travel can become a jaded experience if we do not take it very seriously. And even traveling slowly, we may end up with the same fullness of experiences clogging up our senses as a lethal mix of substances: the perception gets altered.

We are not all so lucky to be rockstars the caliber of Keith Richards, going to Swiss private clinics here and now to drain his blood from the substance abuse before a new feast. Our luck may be breaking a journey between periods of working a day job, or just returning home and lie in bed staring at the walls. However, in some cases, this luxury is not permitted to long term travelers.

As long as the experiences have been great, and you have seen many beautiful places and met amazing people, there is a burnout feeling arising and we have to be careful with it, as it may grind our experience to a halt, making life on the road miserable. Whatever the budget we may have, and wherever we may be, sometimes travel can be too much. Too many experiences, too many images, faces, colors and foods. And the more amazing things we have seen or done, it may be more difficult to appreciate the next.

In these cases, we may have to consider taking a break, or invent something new to give a sense to our traveling. For example, I recently met an Austrian man who, after repeated trips to Pakistan, helped funding the construction of a school in the Northern Tribal Areas.  What I did was far simpler: as I got totally burnt out from using public transportation, I decided to “downgrade” myself to hitching. Not only I had a hell of a great time meeting awesome truck drivers and local folks, but I ultimately spiced up my travel experience by doing something I had not done extensively before.

Differently from what Nomadic Matt says, it is not about what you can fit in a bag or how many travel blogs you read every day. To me, it is about reinventing the experience to avoid getting bored and stressed. And of course, the rougher, lower budget you travel, the more you may think to allow for some much deserved rest, whenever your schedule, routing or budget make it possible.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | September 20, 2012
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road, Vagabonding Life

3 Responses to “Can travel be too much?”

  1. Turner Says:

    Perfect timing with this article, as the month I spent in Thailand really burnt me out on travel – the rain, suit salesmen, scams, etc. We definitely have to find a way to reinvent ourselves – our perspective, rather – after so much time on the road or we’ll simply stop seeing the wonder that is the world.

  2. bani.amor Says:

    I think it depends on your motives for traveling. It’s important to listen to yourself/body when you need a break, to settle for a bit. Great article!

  3. Liz Says:

    Good read… Everyone probably has their own level of tolerance for how much travel is too much, but always making sure to take a break when needed can help reawaken the fun of traveling!