A few months ago I was in a slump. After four years on the road, I was a bit burnt out. Since my last “rest,” I’d been traveling for 11 months solid. That’s a long time to go without a breather. I wrote about how I had lost the wonder of travel. As I said:
“The more I travel, the more I realize travel is the only thing I want to do, and I would never trade my lifestyle for a cubicle. But eventually travel does become repetitive: more trains, more waterfalls, more beaches, more, more, more. I’ve been lost: I’ve done the hostel thing, I’ve ridden on trains, I’ve explored jungles, seen bridges, and got drunk with people from around the world. I’ve partied, I’ve slept, I’ve met thousands of faces I’ll never see again, I’ve taken day trips and explored ruins… In short, I’ve done all these activities over and over again. And that repetition can sometimes take the glitz out of travel.“
I was simply going through the motions. The only remedy that works when I’m feeling this way is a break. Sometimes when you do something so much, it can take the shine off it. It becomes…work. Travel became work for me. I knew it was becoming tedious, and soon everyone was telling me the same thing. “Stop and relax,” they said. “There’s no reason to push yourself.” And they were right.
I’ve spent the summer in New York City and the months have flown by. It only seems like yesterday that I was landing in NYC for TBEX. Now August is coming to an end and I am heading to see family in Boston. I’m sad to leave New York. But it was a great break.
One thing I am ready for is to travel again. Living a non-nomadic lifestyle was great. It gave me time to relax, get some work done, catch up with friends, and become a local again. To me, travel isn’t about moving. It’s about getting to know a place. I got to know New York a bit better this summer.
But my true nature is that of a nomad. I love life on the road. It’s part of who I am. After two months in one place, I’m ready to be back out there. My mind is churning with new trip ideas. I’ve been planning trip after trip. There are a million ideas racing through my mind again. In October, I sling on my backpack and hit the open road again. I have a month to prepare, and a conference to attend, and before I know it, I’ll be off again. The countdown begins.
My friend Scott once said that when something becomes a grind, it’s not worth doing anymore. You need to take a break. He was right. Whether you’re a painter, teacher, traveler, office worker, or programmer, spending too much time on one task isn’t good. The brain and body need a break. Otherwise, you’ll get burnt out. That happened to me. I got burnt out on travel and I needed a break.
Travel burnout does happen. You don’t need to be a four-year traveler to feel it. Even on a short trip, running around constantly can lead to travel burnout. After a while, things can begin to feel like just “another.” Another waterfall, another city, another this, and another that. And when that happens, you lose the wonder and beauty of traveling. In a way, it becomes meaningless. You don’t appreciate where you are or what you are doing.
When that happens, it’s often best to stop and relax. Stay in one place and get to know it. Soon you’ll be getting itchy travel feet again. Taking a rest when you’re on the road lets you gain the wonder of travel again.
Now I’ve had my rest and I’m ready to get out there. It’s time to explore the world again. If New York has taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. To be a traveler, you don’t always have to be on the move. You can simply be discovering something new. After a while, you can move on again and appreciate just how wonderful the journey really is.