My husband and I are at the halfway point of our trip and we are finally taking a much needed break. We are lucky enough to have seven months to travel, but even that doesn’t feel like enough time for everything we want to see in do. We’ve managed to crunch in a lot into three months so far. We average about three to four nights per town or city, meaning one day to recover from travel, one day to enjoy the scenery, take a tour, or go on a hike, and one day to recover from that. Traveling can take a lot out of you, between long bus rides often taken over night, lack of comfortable sleep due to loud hostels, and inability to eat healthy, it is difficult to not burnout. I never get sick and I’ve had several long lasting colds and a few stomach flus on this trip already. This is why it’s so important to take steps to prevent burnout before it happens, so that you can fully enjoy your trip.
When you don’t have the privilege to travel indefinitely, you tend to want to squeeze a lot into a short amount of time. People plan whirlwind trips, where they see three or more countries in a span of two months. Unfortunately, when you attempt to do this, you burnout really fast. Of course, it’s hard to not want to do everything in the short time you have to travel, but you’ll make it exhausting and unenjoyable if you overdo it. So, take this advice and hopefully you’ll strike a nice balance between keeping busy and staying sane.
- You absolutely can’t do everything, and if you try you will burnout fast! Choose two out of three things to do in each town or sometimes just one thing is enough. Also choose less places to visit, so you’ll have more time in each place. If you try to do it all, you’ll just feel exhausted and not even enjoy them all.
- Give yourself ample time for rest/sleep. Don’t party all night then go on the 5am tour all the time. Allow for some early nights and late mornings.
- Take a day off if you can afford it, especially if you have more than two months. Relax at a cafe people watching. Lay in a hammock reading. Even stay in bed watching Netflix. It’s okay!! You may feel guilty that you’re missing out, but everything will be there tomorrow and your body needs a break.
- Don’t always stay in dorms. Splurge on a private room every few weeks or even once a week to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. It’s super important. Dorms are hard when half the room is snoring.
- Ditch the party hostel once in a while for a quieter option. You can always visit the party hostel at night, but no one gets sleep when the music plays until 4am and then drunk people descend on the dorm rooms. Honestly, after years of staying at these hostels, I’m over it and have graduated to the social but calmer spots.
- Night buses may save time, but unless you’re a pro at sleeping on them they can make your trip quite miserable. So, avoid taking too many night buses. You arrive absurdly early, half the time you can’t check in for hours, and then when you can, you only feel like sleeping all day anyway. Ultimately, they suck the energy out of you and you lose the next day anyway. If you’re going to take them pay extra for the VIP seats.
- Try to eat healthy! I know the $2 set meal with lots of carbs and meat seems cheap and appealing, but half the time they’ve made me sick. If you can find real veggies and fruits at the market or on the menu, make sure they are washed properly and order them. Don’t eat toast every day for breakfast just because it’s free at the hostel. Get some protein to go with it. If you’re active all day, you need eggs to survive. If you’re not fueling your body with the right foods, you will lower your immune system and get sick easier.
- Going along with that- avoid a strictly liquid diet. Drinking is great and all and I know you’re on vacation indefinitely, but take a night off. If you drink heavily every night, you’ll spend all your money fast, gain a ton of weight, and run down your immune system. It’s okay to take Sunday and Monday off or whatever two days you choose.
- Pack appropriately for the climate. In South America there are a lot of micro climates. One town can be hot and humid, while the next is cold and rainy all in the same months. If you don’t do well with cold, go to SE Asia where it’s warm all year. Europe, the US, South and Central America have changing climates and some have rainy and dry seasons. If you don’t do your research and pack the right gear, you could get sick when it’s hailing and you’re wearing a t-shirt.
- Finally, most importantly, take a vacation from your vacation if you have the time. Traveling is a lot of work. You’ve got early morning tours, late night buses, rigorous schedules, etc. If you want to also enjoy your extended travels and not just check off boxes of where you’ve been, find a beautiful place and just stay there for a week. Unpack your things, settle in, and relax. We’ve been on the road for three and a half months, moving quickly from Argentina to Peru, and we finally took six days in Mancora, Peru, rented a bungalow, and are just chilling on the beach for a week. It’s so rejuvenating!! We can sleep in everyday, eat when we want, lay in hammocks, rest on the beach with a book, the day has no schedule. It’s a much needed escape from the hustle and bustle of travel. We were starting to get really burnt out and not even enjoying the trip anymore. Now, we feel renewed!!
Just remember you chose to be free of the responsibilities of home, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself while abroad! It’s meant to be fun and not just a checklist of destinations.