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How to Prevent Travel Burnout

August 12, 2011

Madrid airport after Jordan on our trip around the world


"Do you ever get tired of traveling?" This is a question we hear often and we also  frequently hear other travelers complain about travel burnout.

"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion" - Hunt

NO TRAVEL BURNOUT FOR US

In the last twelve months, we have been completely around the world as a family with 26 airport stops, 13 countries, yet not one iota of travel burn out. And we are not just traveling but educating our child in 3 languages, plus playing 2 instruments and working as we roam on investments, writing a book and this travel blog in our spare time.

  Blissing out at the Bora Bora blue lagoon


As we approach our 6th year of non-stop extensive long term travel as a family, soon to explore our 43rd country on 5 continents and have done over 200, 000 miles overland, I can honestly say, we have NEVER had travel burnout, never been homesick, still love the thrill of  traveling and are tremendously grateful for this dream lifestyle that we have created.

WHY NO TRAVEL BURNOUT?

First, there is a huge difference between business travel or a vacation, than living a digital nomad family travel lifestyle. It's true, any travel, can make even the simplest things complex like getting a meal, finding a bathroom or a place to sleep at night, but we actually find our permanent vacation lifestyle easier ( and more enriching) than when we lived in one place.

"I can't think of anything that excites a greater since of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again." Bryson

"Success is doing what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want" Tony Robbin

KEYS THAT WORK FOR US TO PREVENT TRAVEL BURNOUT

SLOW TRAVEL

Sure there are times when one needs to go faster like we did in Norway to stay within our $23/ a day per person budget, but for the most part we are very big fans of slow travel, slow food, slow living  which is a perfect antidote for our fast paced world and helps to be more present with and cherish what is truly important in life.

Barcelona beach resort - time in nature



RETURN TO FAVORITE PLACES

We are world citizens that like having special "homes" around the world that we return to often like Barcelona, Penang, Andalusia, London, Provence, Verona, Santa Cruz etc. We mostly rest and immerse in the winter to allow our child to expand in one of her fluent languages by going to a local school, just doing shorter trips from a base, but we also do repeat visits regularly to places we love. There are always deeper levels to experience.

MAKE LOCAL FRIENDS

I think making deep connectons with locals is key to really knowing a place and preventing travel fatigue or feeling homesick. This goes hand in hand with slow travel and return to favorite places. One reason they will be favorite places is because of the dear friends that you have there. Many travelers make the mistake of just connecting with other travelers or not staying long enough to really connect with locals.

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LEARN LANGUAGES

Nothing will help you connect to a place and culture than knowing the language. Obviously, no one can know every langauge, but if you are going to do extensive travel in a country where most do not speak your home language, you will have much less travel fatigue if you can speak some of the local tongue. You will enjoy it a lot more too  and it will be easier to connect deeply with locals. If you have children I think it is crazy NOT to give them the gift of more than one language while doing slow travel.




BE UNPLUGGED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Today's biggest luxury is being uplugged and spending time in nature..two of my favorite things in our digital nomadic life. We can't totally unplug all the time since we do everything via our laptops, including our investment work, travel blog, banking, some homeshool etc, but if you are always plugged in, then you are missing real life and then does it even matter where you are?

The whole point of the digital nomad 4 Hour Workweek style of life is to enjoy more and work much less. We purposely do not have a smart phone etc, so we are never tethered to a machine 24/7.  Lazing under a tree, gazing at the sea, or just reading a good book, is essential to prevent travel burnout.

TRAVEL LIGHT

The longer we travel the less we need. Minimalism makes traveling and life so much easier. We zip through airports, on trains, buses, cargo ships etc almost effortlessly because we travel so light. Yes, a family CAN travel the world for a year with 26 airport stops, 13 countries with just one small carry-on luggage each. We will take even less this year. When travel is easy, burn out is avoided.

travel light for rtw travel


STAY CONNECTED TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS

When you do go online, make sure that you stay connected regularly with family and friends at a distance. I often talk to my 83 year old mother several times a week, sometimes every day as long as internet is good. Thanks to free webcams our daughter has been able to share each missing baby tooth, drawings, violin and piano playing, introduce friends and more. I am not sure if we could do our travel lifestyle without that because it allows us to travel the world and bring our dear ones with us as we roam.

KEEP ROUTINES

One of the great advantages of traveling by motorhome in Europe and doing most of our slow travel in it or a furnished vacation rental means that it is easy for us to just keep up our normal family routines. Things like eating breakfast together, musical instrument practice, cooking dinner together, my morning walks, family movie nights, family cuddles and prayers at bedtime and upon waking are routines we do no matter where we are. Home is where the heart is, not a single place for us.

Relaxing and reading in Vienna



LIVE LIKE A LOCAL

Of course,  a traveler can not live exactly as a local, but by having local friends, returning to favorite places and slow travel, it is easier and cheaper to do things more like a local than a tourist. Routines like grocery shopping, riding buses like locals or going to local schools for short periods helps ground us in every day life and keeps away travel fatigue.

MEET FAMILY AND FRIENDS

One way to keep family close, is to travel with them and our three generations travel with DaVinci's family and traveling with Grandma with my mom was some of our most enriching. They get to see first hand how our life is exotic and exciting, yet simple and ordinary as well. We've met up with old friends from California and Sweden to travel together and plan more of that. If you are homesick for family and friends why not invite them to stay and travel together?

fun water slide in Jordan



LIVE IN LUXURY

It's true we travel the world for much less than we lived on at home, and we could travel and live on much, much less than the 25K a year that we do. We're a 1st world family, so we don't want to travel long term in a crowded party hostel or run down cheap, but scary or depressing place in the third world.

By living in luxury in places like we have done in our Spain winter rentals or Penang winter rental or even the luxury campgrounds in Europe, we keep our preferred lifestyle and that prevents travel burnout too. If life is really hard, one probably won't want to do that for an extended time...especially not as a family with a young child.

Yes, we have enjoyed an overnight in a Berber tent in the Sahara, couch surfing and some very primative lodgings from time to time as well as top luxury hotels..all wonderful, but long-stays are best done in a comfortable  home environment for families.

hugging a puppy in Bora Bora


MAKE HOMECOOKED MEALS

It's great to eat local food and we do that, but the routines of home cooked meals, grounds a family, prevents homesickness and is usually healthier fare and saves money. We also love the routine of shopping at local markets and making our healthy diets conform to what is popular locally. If we miss Tex-Mex or Sushi etc, we just make our own no matter where we are.

FOLLOW THE WEATHER AND KEEP IT PERFECT

Beaultiful weather is MUCH more enjoyable way to see a place, so we do our best to travel/live in eternal spring or summer weather and every day a Saturday. We consider the fall weather that we visit as more of the eternal spring since the weather is similar in temperature. Tropical is my preferred way to do winter, but if I must have snow, I will go to mountains like in Spain where we can ski in the morning and swim in the Med sea in the afternoon.

Weather is never perfect but trust me, a string of  gorgeous days are a lot more uplifting  than a dismal, rainy, dark, depressing or hot, miserable, sweltering, or cold, freezing-your-butt-off season. If the weather is miserable, it's time to move on or travel burn out will catch you, because day in and day out of hard and ugly, wears on the soul.

Beautiful tropical sunset in Tahiti



TRAVEL AS A FAMILY

If you travel as a family, then you always have your dear ones with you, so we never get lonely the way a solo traveler might, nor do we HAVE TO go find friends as our best friends are always with us. Some might not care for the 24/7 togetherness but we thrive on it.

Putting our child with babysitters or breaking up to travel would completely undo the main purpose of our travel which is cherishing our time together. We don't even like it when we have to sacrifice some of that time when she is in school part time for language immersion.

We were happily married for almost ten years before having a child and we waited until our child was reading well, school age and could carry her own luggage, before our world trip,  so these factors help a lot in creating harmony while traveling and preventing burnout.

Have you had travel burn out? What would you do differently to prevent it in the future?

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Aussie Girl in India

Great post, with really useful tips. What an amazing journey you are on

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much Aussie girl! Have you run into travel burn out?

Susan

Very insightful post, Jeanne. After our 1st five days here in Costa Rica, we're finding we need to get into a better rhythm to prevent boredom with our children. Getting them unplugged from constant TV, internet, video games, etc has been pretty easy here since it is much more limited, but they're having to figure out what to do now in their free time. We haven't started schooling, so that will help. I AM glad we brought some non-electronic games for them to play. That has been a big help.

Everyone really loves it here and I'm so thankful for you and others who inspired us to take the leap. So far, it's been like the vacation we'd never done, but still doing everyday routine things like in the US, but more simply. :o)

Marlana

EXCELLENT POST! I second all of them. I did laugh about the weather, given that its been over 100 for the last 40 days in my home state. :)

Michelle

Oh I long for travel burnout! I remember years ago (when I travelled for two years) arriving at another airport and being quite sick and tired of airports. But then a huge grin grew on my face, so happy that I was in an airport getting grumpy instead of a cubicle getting grumpy... and dying a little more with everyday I spent there.
Give me travel burnout rather than 'boring life' burnout any day! :)

Enjoyourholiday

These are some great advices, more the one talking about living like a local, eating and spending the time as one. As long as you manage to get used, as fast as you can, with the local life, you will never get burned out.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Susan! And congrats again to all of you...hang in there, you will get your rhythm in due time. We always have to readjust in each new place. Life as a vacation is the way to live!!

After kidlet has been in school for a bit for languages, she hardly knows how to fill her time on her own, but she adjusts. When we have been in an area where kids speak one of her languages then go to an area where that is not available, she also adjusts.

It took us almost a month to learn how to eat and shop in Asia in a way that worked for us.

Give them and you time to adjust to a slower paced life. Games help, swimming, doing art, exploring, playing with balls ( a blow up atlas is one of our fave possessions that doubles for ball play) ;)

Kid's imaginative play can keep them busy for hours..even creating with leaves, rocks, dirt etc. In hot weather even a small bucket of water has given kidlet hours of fun or sometimes we find cheap balloons to fill with water which always delights. Jumprope, bikes,reading ,hiking,surfing, boogie boarding, singing, dancing, chalk, painting, hand laundry ( yes kids think this is play), chores like dishes, homeschool etc fill our days.

Kidlet finds lots of "boxcar kids" kinds of things to do..bet yours will too!

Just as school kids need to "deschool" when they switch to homeschooling, travel kids need to "defastpaced world" to find their slow paced rhythm. I always remind my kiddo that there is no such thing as boredom..only boring people & use her creativity.

Your kids have each other so should be even easier in many ways as they have inbuilt friends and you will also find yourself playing with them more and family games which is part of the joy of slow travel.

We all need to learn to play more and slow travel allows the time for it. ;) Lovely that you are near relatives too and have lots of new places to explore!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Marlana! Wow, sounds like you are better off away from your home state! I suppose I am a bit spoiled with weather as I do not like to endure bad weather for long!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Good point Michelle! Although I must admit I prefer neither travel burnout or life burnout! ;)

Anja Mutic

Interesting post... and good tips. It made me realize though that there are so many different ways and reasons to travel. You guys are doing it wonderfully, as a team who travels for the sake of travel and to collect incredible experiences and knowledge. It's quite different for me - and I do suffer from travel burnout every now and then - as a travel writer. I travel to make a living and pay my bills and I sacrifice a lot to do it, such as time with my husband and friends in New York and any semblance of a "normal life". Even though I love my profession and I feel lucky to be doing what I love for living, it can be trying at times and, yes, it can lead to travel burnout. That's a big part of the reason why I'm actually staying put in New York for 2.5 months this summer/fall - and loving it!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

It is so true Anja that there are many different reasons and ways to travel and live. Any time that you are doing it for business or to make money, one loses the freedom of doing it exactly how one wants.

Glad to hear you are taking time to just be with your husband and friends. Too bad you can't take them always and spend months like that in various places enjoying them and the place at the same time. Writing exactly what and when you want.

Interestingly I have found that most travel writers do much less traveling than we do, but most seem to enjoy it less because it becomes a job and too much is sacrificed like you are saying and travel burn out occurs as much is done in a quick manner to get "stories" to tell and sell.

I've become a travel writer by accident, but I would hate to have to make a living at it. Our top reasons for travel is freedom, educating our child and having TIME together.

But as someone who has made a living via an art form I understand the challenges and grateful to be at this point of freedom in my life.

Enjoy your summer!

Gabrielle

Hej Jeanne ! Greetings from Norway ;-)
It's a great post.
I actually don't like heat much so I'd rather travel in eternal spring or fall! LOL
I understand what you say regarding waiting for your kid to be able to read/being school age/carry her own bag etc... Traveling with a 6 year old, as well as a 4 and 2 year old for 2 months this summer, I agree that around 6 is a really good age to be able to make the most of it. However, for the 4 and 2 year old, the good part is that they don't really need to learn to unplug for example as they haven't really been "plugged in" in the first place. Also, people have a very friendly attitude towards very little ones.

But as you said the first time we "talked", traveling with 3 such young ones, one needs to go even slower and adjust to their needs and feelings. Especially because we also have to work a bit at the same time, with deadlines to meet.

We are loving our 2 month travels through home exchange and are now planning to try and travel 3 to 4 months out of every year if we can... and it's also a bit thanks to you ;-)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Gabrielle! Waving to you in Norway from Barcelona! ;) I am with you and do not like to much heat either...but perfect summer and sunny days is another thing. ;)

I was really worried about tropical Asia as I had heard some horror stories about the heat and humidity, but actually really enjoyed our first tropical winter weather wise and never even used the air con as we never needed it.

Ha! No babies do not need to unplug...even my 10 year old doesn't need to because despite being a digital native she has never been a plugged in kid and prefers to play and read books.

You will find that even older kids get lots of attention..hasn't stopped yet with ours..part of the joy of family travel.

We've traveled with ours since she was 2 weeks old, but real glad we started the extended travel when she was 5 and ready well and could walk endlessly and carry her own luggage.

Traveling with younger ones and more than definitely calls for a slower pace. Good for you..enjoy your Norway time...lovely country despite being so expensive.

Gabrielle

Yes, our eldest is definitely the easiest to travel with... as you say he can walk a long time without complaining, really understands a lot of what we're visiting, can occupy himself rather easily, is "reasonable" (in the sense that you can reason with him about something, much harder to do with a 4 year old, let alone 2!). It's just great ! (That doesn't mean that he listen's all the time... he's not perfect and has quite a mind of his own lol but he's the easiest one to travel with and probably the one that gets the most out of this experience at the moment.

However if we had waited for our youngest to be 5/6 our eldest would've been nearly 10... so we adjust!

Another great thing is that the siblings become even closer and our eldest really looks out for his brother and sister. Of course, it happens at home as well but I think it's exacerbated when we travel.

Also Home exchange make Norway ( a bit) more affordable.

Next year we want to exchange in the US for 3 months and would love to enroll the kids (the 2 eldest ones) in some program (school, camp, whatever...) so that they get language immersion. If you have any suggestion...

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yep, makes perfect sense Gabrielle and why we waited for long term travel, but I understand your view as well with 3 kids.

Our daughter has remembered all of her travel so that has been a big benefit as well. You will have to repeat some places if you want them all to remember them, but that can be lots of fun.

Taking a 6 year old to Paris is very different than taking an almost 10 year old and both trips were wonderful even though we repeated many things.

If you go in the school year, I don't think you will have any problem enrolling them in a school. Might be easier if you pick a small school and more rural area.

Since you home exchange, talk to those people about the possibilities. I imagine that a good small school would love to have the kids there as it not only will be great for them, but for all the kids.

If you go in summer, there are TONS of day camps every where, so would also be easy.

Help prepare the kids as much as you can beforehand..to make the immersion easier.

You will be amazed at how much they will pick up in 3 months and how English confident they will be afterward by being in an all English environment.

Lori - The Unframed World

So many great tips! I think your core point of taking life slow is really the key for me too.

Michael Esposito

I think that successful travel is all about adaptability, and your post highlights how to be adaptable when traveling long-term with a family. You also rightly emphasize the need to make long-term friendships with the locals in order to enjoy the experience more.

corey

Great blog! I've also travelled with a small child and I've found that it pays to travel slow, no need to rush around, and take the time to immerse yourself in the culture and make friends—that's the best part about being there, after all.

Hope you can drop by the Philippines sometime!

Turner

Great list. I don't think I can add anything to it.

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