The slump. It happens to us all. After months on the road, you wake up one day and feel a little off. Travel doesn’t seem as exciting as it used to be. You’re bored, tired, and uninterested.
You start to think, “What’s wrong with me? I’m seeing and doing amazing stuff every day. Why don’t I love it anymore?”
This is the slump — and it happens to us all.
When you first set out, travel is exciting and new. You’re meeting different people from around the world, experiencing new activities, trying different food, and exploring exotic lands. But one day you realize your travels have become a routine: you wake up, sightsee, meet other travelers, ask and get asked the same questions, pack your bag, trek to the next destination, and do it all over again in a new place.
A friend recently emailed me about this problem. He and his partner are five months into their trip and suddenly aren’t having as much fun as they used to. They just aren’t “feeling it” as much he said to me. He wanted to know what was wrong and if this was normal.
“Nothing is wrong,” I said. “It is completely normal.”
Many long-term travelers face the slump on their trip. For example, after four and a half months traveling around the United States, my last weeks weren’t spent sightseeing new cities but rather watching Netflix and eating with friends. After moving every few days for so long, I needed a break. Luckily, I was heading home to relax, but if I wasn’t, I would have done what I told my friend he should do:
Stop and mix it up.
The slump is easily curable because it is an illness born out of routine. You went traveling to add excitement to your life and yet suddenly you feel like saying, “Another damn church/temple/waterfall? Whatever.” How many beautiful cathedrals, mountains, or beaches can you see in a short period of time before you become a little desensitized?
When travel becomes routine, it loses its edge, but there are two easy ways fix that:
First, stop where you are. Spend time in one place. Part of why you are feeling the way you do is because you’re running around so much. Changing locations every few days is tiring. You’re constantly unpacking and packing again while also trying to see as much as possible. Life becomes a blur, a series of photos. So slow down. Take a break from travel. Stay where you are, get to know the place more deeply, become a regular. Watch Netflix, read, and sleep. One day you’ll find you have your mojo back. When that happens, move on again.
Second, mix up your routine. My friends are digital nomads, work a lot on the road, and spend a lot of time in Airbnbs. I told them they should stay at hostels or couchsurf instead, join a pub crawl, or use a site like EatWith to meet locals.
What makes travel so exciting is the variety. Every day is a new day filled with endless possibilities. You can be or do whatever you want. However, just like anything else in life, when it becomes a routine, the excitement fades.
So break out of your routine. If you are staying in hostels, couchsurf instead. Use Meetup.com to find local groups with similar interests. Skip all the activities you normally would do and attend that festival you heard about instead.
The slump happens to the best of us. It’s happened to me, my friends, and plenty of other travelers.
Don’t worry about it.
By slowing down and changing your routine, the slump will disappear.
And you’ll get back the excitement and energy you had at the beginning.