Am I Done Traveling?

Lately, I’ve been noticing a few disturbing trends in my thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

–       After a few hours of bus travel, I used to drop my stuff off at the hotel and head out. Now, I’m so exhausted that I want to spend the rest of the day in bed. I even consider skipping dinner so I don’t have to leave.

–       Repacking my backpack, which used to take me 10 minutes max to do, now drains me of all my energy.

–       I’ve been staying in cities for longer not because of interest, but because packing and moving again makes me want to throw a temper tantrum.

–       I long to have my own towels that haven’t touched another human body and a space to call my own that’s not a hotel room.

–       I have a lack of desire to go sightseeing and check out the things that most visitors are checking out. I instead prefer to hole up and work on various projects on the internet.

–       I feel more antisocial than normal.

I’m afraid I have a bad case of traveler burnout.

digital nomad

I’ve been traveling for the better part of the past four years. I’ve spent thousands of hours on buses, slept in hundreds of different hotels and hostels, done countless hours of trip research and budgeting, been to dozens of museums and taken thousands of photos of colonial churches.

I’m tired.

I can no longer avoid the elephant in the room. I have to ask myself:

Am I done traveling?

I’m not sure I’m even ready to answer that question or make a “final” decision one way or the other. I do, however, need a change.

I predict that the face of my travels will be drastically different and include longer stints (three to twelve months) in fewer places.

It may even include a brick-and-mortar type of employment. I’ve always dreamed of opening a café and a used bookstore, and possibly even a hostel or guesthouse. If I find a cool city to do this in and have the budget, I’m going for it.

It will also involve taking some sort of class. One of the reasons that traveling appeals to me so much is the endless opportunities for learning. In the beginning, it was impossible not to learn. Now, the basics of travel are so ingrained into my being and adapting to different cultures is so natural that I now have to make a concentrated effort to increase my knowledge about my surroundings.

I want to have friends in the same physical location as me, not just ones I converse with every so often on Facebook. I want to meet them for lunch and chill at their houses and go on road trips with them.

I want to expand the fields that I write about, like vegetarianism and inspirational pieces and reflections on being a twenty-something in this strange era we live in.

Most of all, I want to rest.

sleeping on a park bench

Will this change be a permanent one? Not likely. I’m used to drastically changing the direction of my life on a regular basis at a moment’s notice. Change is the only guarantee.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. – Anatole France

  • Melissa

    We start travelling to change our lives and live them they way we want to, on our own terms. The same could be said about pausing from travel and temporarily settling somewhere :)  We don’t need to think of stopping as ‘failing’… isn’t it just about doing whatever we find most fulfilling at different times in our lives? Anyway, no decision has to be ‘final’; nor do the consequences of that decision have to mean ‘forever’. If you feel like you need to take a break and settle for a while, I think it will be no less awesome than what you’ve been doing for the past 4 years. I’m sure you’ll find yourself spirtually, mentally and physically recharged after a while too! Best wishes for wherever you decide to go and whatever you decide to do there. :)

  • Karen

    I agree – travelling is great but it is also great to stay in one place and actually have friends and a life! I have found the same thing, travelling and moving all the time can be lonely and isolating, especially in countries where the language is not your own. I think sometimes you have to be still to really live. Love the idea of the bookshop or hostel – go for it!

  • Miin

    Dear Jasmine,
    We are totally experiencing travel burnout after nearly 3 years on the road, never stopping in one place for more than 6 weeks.  It could also be because we are in Peru but some days we just want to pack up and start the ‘home base’ process (which is still quite long and drawn out!).  Hope that you get your second wind!!
    Miin
    (just wrote a post on this too at http://weareallmadeoflove.wordpress.com)

  • Wade Shepard

    Well, the only way I know of to add some gas to the traveling tank is to take a rest for a while. Give a month, two months, before long your wanderlust will return and get you back out there!

  • I feel that when one travels there needs
    to be a reason behind it. So many travelers I meet that get burned out are the
    ones that just wander because they have no idea how to live their lives; they
    just travel to travel. 

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t read much of your blog
    so I can’t give you much advice. But for me personally I travel to learn
    languages, rock-climb and summit mountain peaks and have been doing it for
    years. Guess, what? I NEVER get tired of it because I am always accomplishing
    something, always learning and always finding something new (all mountains vary
    in technicality, topography, difficulty and flora and fauna…not one mountain is
    the same as another). This is just my opinion, but after seeing hundreds of
    Latin American churches and statues I feel that I never have to see another one again.

    Also, take a break from the computer. Human beings are not meant to sit in front of a computer all day. I understand that bloggers need to make money but don’t become a slave to checking your blog and twitter seven hours a day; your readers will understand! Spend several days computer free in a Colombian pueblo, I guarantee that you will feel a million times better.

    Travel with less stuff. I see so many backpackers (hostel hopers) that don’t have a tent, sleeping bag or even boots and they carry 80 liter packs! For what? Unless they are preparing for an expedition to the Hindu Kush a 35-40 liter pack should be enough.Anyway, take a break in a small town with a nice climate and I promise that you will feel better. Best of luck to you.

  • Thanks Melissa. You’re right, I certainly don’t feel like I failed at all, nor do I think I’ll stop traveling all together. The call of places I haven’t seen will continue to pull me… what’s changing is my travel style – I’m certainly not going back to my place of birth to jump into the same life I had before.

  • All lifestyles have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m ready tno experience the benefits of a sedentary life for a minute, especially making friends!

  • Wow Miin, that is some fast travel. Maybe it’s time for you guys to slow down too :)

  • I think traveling at a much slower pace will be my thing for awhile… the wanderlust remains, but the travel style will be changing.

  • Thanks for the input, Kevin. I agree, traveling with a purpose is much more fulfilling than aimlessly wandering, which is what I’ve been doing for awhile now. That’s why I plan to dig deeper into certain locations, make friends, volunteer, and get involved.

  • HappyHomemakerUK

    I traveled & lived abroad through my 20s – moved back to the States because I thought I got the travel bug out of my system. Now we are expats living abroad as a family. It will always be a part of who you are, even if that side of you needs a rest. New to your blog & loving it!

  • Robert Parrott

    Hello Jasmine, I reached the stage your at but after 1.5 years and not 4, ultimately I felt much like you describe, I was burnt out and basically I was desperate to do a load of things which ultimately I could only do in one place. Weirdly I was having dreams about bbq’ing of all things! I wanted to build my own smoker and well… basically I was just knackered, I went home and was glad I did, I felt much better after a month or so. But ultimately you get your wanderlust back, it takes a little time, but it comes.

  • Burnout after being on the go for 4 years is understandable…
    What cities/countries come to mind when you consider settling down for awhile?

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I think my life will probably be similar, minus living in the US again :)

  • Hi Robert,

    I think you’re right about the wanderlust. Even though I’m tired, I still can’t say my desire to see other places has left. It will just be at a much slower pace.

  • Definitely Colombia… but it would be hard to pick just one place because I love the whole country. I’d also like to live in Buenos Aires for awhile, which I might do next year.

  • Taking a break isn’t the worst thing in the world. It might allow you to get back to where you were when you started your journey.

  • It will be less like a break and more like a change in travel style… but you’re right, I may be open to “backpacking” every once in awhile down the road.

  • Having friends you see regularly is a really nice thing, And rest is definitely a nice thing!  Traveling a little slower sounds like a perfect change. 

  • I think so too :)

  • Beautiful and honest. You’re on to some goodness though, so keep up the good fight. You’ll get that second wind soon enough! :)

  • Beautiful and honest. You’re on to some goodness though, so keep up the good fight. You’ll get that second wind soon enough! :)

  • Kathleen K. O’Connor

    Are you here in San Cris right now? I just found your blog a while ago… I’m living here with my husband and daughter at the moment. I am also writing for the web for a living. We stay in places for several months at a time. We did try to live in Cozumel for a year but didn’t like it enough to stay, so we’re looking for the next place. San Cris is way too cold and rainy for my tastes. We’re thinking of going down to Lago de Atitlan or Nicaragua. 

  • Kathleen K. O’Connor

    Are you here in San Cris right now? I just found your blog a while ago… I’m living here with my husband and daughter at the moment. I am also writing for the web for a living. We stay in places for several months at a time. We did try to live in Cozumel for a year but didn’t like it enough to stay, so we’re looking for the next place. San Cris is way too cold and rainy for my tastes. We’re thinking of going down to Lago de Atitlan or Nicaragua. 

  • Thanks David! I’m still riding on the original wind actually, just at a more relaxed pace.

  • Thanks David! I’m still riding on the original wind actually, just at a more relaxed pace.

  • Oh that’s too bad Kathleen, I just left! I would have loved to meet you. Lago Atitlan is a really cool place. I would suggest checking out all the pueblos on the lake before you choose one, as they all have a distinct vibe.

  • Oh that’s too bad Kathleen, I just left! I would have loved to meet you. Lago Atitlan is a really cool place. I would suggest checking out all the pueblos on the lake before you choose one, as they all have a distinct vibe.

  • Kathleen K. O’Connor

    Aw, that’s too bad. I would have loved to meet you, too.  I feel like an alien for being a long-term traveler sometimes. I’m sure we will cross paths though because we plan on doing this, um, forever. :) I know how you feel about wanting to stay in one place for longer. I get exhausted from traveling pretty quickly, so we decided from the get-go that we’d stay in places for several months at a time. We’re also thinking of opening a brick-and-mortar biz if we can find the right place. I’m glad to have found your blog… I have tons of catching up to do. 

  • You’re right, sometimes being a long-term traveler is strange, because it’s still a rare lifestyle choice. I just settled into an apartment in Oaxaca, and even though I’ll be here for just a month, I’m super excited about having my own space :)

  • Chrysyl

    No traveler ever stops traveling, there’s only a pause. 

  • Its pretty common with long-term travelers but I do not think you will pause…

  • You lasted longer than me. I was ready to stop moving after 6 months in Europe.

  • I think it get us all from time to time. Take your time, restore your energy. I’m interested to know how long you will last in one place. I usually always long after home about few months on the road but as soon as I’m coming back and after 2 weeks of enjoying home, friends, my sofa I pack and go! Great post! Good luck with everything!

  • I actually live in Medellin now :)

  • LOL, I did the opposite of you. Moved to a new country and settled down. Spent 10 years there and then started traveling. I’m currently in Thailand, where I’ve also been on and off for the last 10 years. All I know is Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany….no matter where it is, I’ve been gone from the US for almost 12 years and wouldn’t ever live there again. Other than that, the sky is still the limit for me :)

    Oh and congrats on your engagement.

  • Wow that’s cool. I much prefer getting to dig in to a city rather than passing through. Enjoy your journey :)