This is a guest post from Kristine Lauria, the fairer half of the “Decidedly urban couple [that] attempts to backpack their way through Asia” and chronicles their entertaining adventures through their blog Urban Hikers.
Backpacking for several months is totally different from taking a week-long vacation. Unlike vacationers, backpackers have tons of time but very little budget so we end up on the cheapest trains, in the dirtiest youth hostels and eating (fabulous but filthy) street food.
As a backpacker you wake up in a new city nearly everyday,spend your time exploring ancient sites, eat delicious food and head to the local bar to wrap up the evening with new friends that you met on Tripping.com. It sounds ah-mazing!
But moving around every few days, staying in one place just long enough to get a feel for the city and head to the next unexplored destination, is exhausting. It’s a lot of work just to plan the next day – where to go, how to get there, where to stay. And then just try to communicate all of this information in a language that you don’t understand! It’s surprisingly difficult and stressful.
So when Boradordur, the Forbidden City and the Taj Mahal begin to run together, when elephants, orangutans and proboscis monkeys have lost their allure and you’re dying for some Pizza Hut, it’s time to face facts: You have traveler’s fatigue.
This doesn’t mean you have to pack it in!
Here are five ways to beat Traveler’s Fatigue and revive excitement for your trip.
Get Fit – Let’s face it, mushroom shakes and bia hoi may be great fun but they wreck havoc on your bod. Get back in shape! Take a two week course and learn how to give a good Thai massage, perfect your Warrior 2 or learn Kung Fu. There are huge benefits to a week-long workout. Being part of a class puts you back on a schedule and removes the stress of organizing your day. Working out makes you feel physically fit and mentally sharp. Plus you meet cool people and as an added bonus, your ass is ready for a week at the beach.
Some classes that I think look awesome: Muay Thai Fighting in Thailand, Tango in Argentina,Yoga in Bali, or Capoeira in Brazil.
Volunteer – Traveling for an extended period of time is fairly self indulgent, especially when most of us budget-conscious backpackers travel in developing countries with serious environmental, social and/or public health problems. Take a few weeks out of your busy backpacker schedule to volunteer at a local organization. Volunteering helps you better understand your host county and gives the organization some much needed free labor.
Who knows, you could end up changing someone’s life.
Meditate – Science tells us that people that meditate can shift brain waves from the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. I am not a scientist but I can tell you that learning to meditate made me feel more focused, relaxed and compassionate towards others. There are thousands of meditation courses around the world and – backpacker bonus – often they’re free!
If you’re ready for a zen experience and up for the challenge, take 10-day Vipanssana silent meditation
Head back to familiar territory – Go back to somewhere you’ve already visited. You’re still abroad but you know the lay of the land and that helps. You’ve eliminated the big stress of travel: you know where to stay, where to eat and what’s fun to do. You surely missed something the first time, so give it a second shot and enjoy round two.
Stay somewhere swank – You’ve endured squat toilets and communal showers. Your bag has been stolen and you’ve lost your iPhone. You have slept on hard series trains and sleeper buses. You have earned your stripes as a World Explorer. Now book a 5 star hotel**, order room service and enjoy a 50″ LED TV. There is no rule that states you must live in near-squalor every day of your trip.
So what about you? Have you been hit by the backpacker blues? When did it set in and what did you do?
*Bonus points if you find a cool Tripper with a kick**s pad to stay with.