It seeps into every trip—mischievously, silently, dangerously. Travel fatigue, a great adventurer’s worst enemy. If you pretend it doesn’t exist it can ruin a trip, but if you plan ahead and watch for its tell-tale signs, you can turn this potential negative into a positive.
First, A Definition
You won’t find travel fatigue in the dictionary, but we’ve all felt it. It’s that point in the trip when little annoyances turn into boulder-sized obstacles and it’s easy for even the best travel buddies to grow cold. In short, you are tired. We’ve found that unlike trying to pushing through physical tiredness to find a second wind, there is no second wind from travel fatigue, only more frustration.
Diagnosing Travel Fatigue in Yourself
So what to do? The solution is just to take a day off when you get your first whiff of travel fatigue. Obvious right? Wrong. Travel fatigue is a crafty character and thus is often hard to see in yourself until it’s blossomed into complete and utter burnout. You want to see that next museum, you want to get that amazing photograph, you want to try that regional dish—and then you push yourself too far.
Think of travel fatigue like dehydration; if you wait until you feel thirsty, you’ve waited too long. If you wait until you are having bust ups with your travel partners or can’t muster the energy to go out and see a new city, you’ve waited too long.
Acknowledging that, prevention is key to combating travel fatigue. Think back to a time when you had a minor argument with your travel mates. Or when you just felt like every museum or restaurant felt just like the last—a blur of history and calories.
Got that time in your mind? How many days after the start of the trip did that begin to occur for you? For us, travel fatigue hits pretty consistently about 6-7 days into the trip. That’s our limit. Knowing your limit can help you plan your trip with maximum efficiency.
Turn a Negative Into a Positive
By using your travel fatigue limit, you can optimally plan your trip to include a day with less regular sightseeing, rather than having that downtime forced upon you. Instead of taking a day off in Rome or Paris, when you are surrounded by amazing sights and smells, plan a casual day in Sienna or Vaux le Vicomte 1-2 days before your travel fatigue limit.
There is much less to “do” in smaller cities, which makes it easy to recover and not feel as if you are wasting precious travel time. A small walk around the town, maybe a gelato or two and an early night will help you power through the rest of your trip. Another great option is a day at a beach resort or mountain chalet. The expectation in these location is that you will relax, and you should.
Travel Fatigue’s Worst Nightmare is Relaxation
Work a day of relaxation into your sightseeing adventures before you hit your travel fatigue limit and you’ll get more out of the days at the big sites.
Don’t, and your fight while waiting in line at the Notre Dame will just be entertainment for other visitors having the time of their lives.
What’s your worst travel fatigue story? Lament in the comments below.