Whether you’re exhausted from an extended RTW trip, travel for business, or travel is your business it’s easy to lose sight of the privilege that is traveling. Neglecting luxuries and taking them for granted, much like your car when you’re stuck in traffic, is a common ailment. The problem arises when you disconnect travel from all the things it’s tied to in your particular life. Perhaps you come up with a trip plan so meticulous it can’t possibly be met or stress yourself bald saving up for a honeymoon to Turkey.
Whatever the case may be it comes down to reconnecting with your old flame – travel – and realizing the problem isn’t quite with it itself.
List The Disconnects
Chances are if you made a list about all the things you hate about traveling, the word “traveling” wouldn’t be atop that list. Your list would be full of all sorts of things revolving around travel; long lines at the airport or hours of answering emails upon arriving at your hotel. Relieve yourself from the burden that you might actually be coming to despise travel by listing what you love and hate. Look at where the two aren’t connecting so you can begin to shift your focus.
Traveling becomes work when you focus on everything in preparation of traveling rather than actually traveling itself. You might be intent on saving thousands of dollars or seeing every square centimeter of Australia in a week – when it’s painful you know you’ve lost sight. Working so hard to make travel work takes the fun out of it – so what’s the point? There are plenty of tough situations in life where the bright spots are dull at best but travel isn’t one of them. You might have the small joy of eating on the company dime in El Paso or sipping on a beer with your wife in southern France. The moments don’t have to be long or perfect but are there if you look for them.
Reconnect with what you love about traveling. It might be the food, meeting new people, or simply seeing something new; while keeping in mind that it’s an opportunity many people around the world don’t have.
Shifting Direction Between Your Ears
The most straightforward way to put the fun back into traveling is to take a step back from all the work you’ve made it become.
- Long lines at the airport are a pain but consider what traveling across half the world would entail 100 years ago?
We can all miss the slow creep of the scales tipping from travel to work yet once you do there’s no need to feel guilty. Look at what’s weighing you down and lighten the load by letting go – if even for just a short time. Traveling can be work and that’s fine; but if that’s all it is, you might as well stay home.
[photos by: stuartpilbrow (pulling hair out), bottled_void (smiley stress ball)]
I was there a month ago and I just decided to travel slower and not feel pressured to see so much, now on month 7 I feel rejuvenated.
Excellent advice! And good to know, Ayngelina,that you are feeling better! Cheers!
Thanks Gillian and am too glad to hear you’re feeling revitalized Ayngelina 🙂
if im on the road for more than 6 months (which happens about every 6 months funnily enough!) i need to stop, normally in a country where i can get my western fixes, movies, a/c, fast net connection and then get ready to hit the road once more!
How long does it usually take you to recharge?
It can be hard sometimes, especially when things are going wrong on the road… you missed a flight, the people are making a spectacle out of you, you’re stuck in a language barrier for a week, ect. But, it feels great when you move out of it because you’ve accomplished something. Overcome some kind of adversity whatever it is.
I suppose that’s another luxury of travel stress – you can usually (physically) move past it!
I think most stress with travel happens from trying to do too much or rushing. I can’t believe how busy and intent some people look when travelling on vacation (work travel may be different). Slow down, stay in one place for a little longer, take half a day to drink a coffee in a cafe or even watch TV. Take a relaxing train rather than a plane (if possible). If it the person you are travelling with (sometimes it is meeting their traevl ideal or commitments), take a break from each other for a few hours or days before meeting up again. Ring and talk to a family member for a while if you are missing home. In nearly all cases, travel frustrations are very preventable with a little thought. Good topic.
Great advice Mark and rings true of doing less to do more. Trying to force your way to relaxation only has the opposite effect 🙂
I could fully well relate to this great topic. In our desire to see and do more given the little time we have in our trips, we tend to do it as if we’re stuffing so much in our bags more than what we can carry. It makes sense to just focus on one site, one place at a time rather than having everything as a blur.
It’s funny to see people put more effort into vacation than they do into work 😉
Simply altering your schedule or plan or just doing something different will sometimes bring the hop back to your step. Don’t get caught in a rut, while traveling or not.
I agree, a change in routine does wonders for the soul 🙂
I like the whole putting it into perspective thing… like the lines at the airport. I hate it when people complain about security, too. Just deal with it and be thankful you’re crossing the country or world by plane and think about the time it saves as opposed to doing otherwise.
Yeah, I think change to the system (whether it’s security, long lines, etc.) happens through coordinated efforts on the higher levels rather than personal complaints or frustrations.
I agree with Mark, I think we sometimes just try too hard and rush through things, we feel like we have to see and do everything, and travel becomes something stressful rather than fun and enjoyable.
At that point too you just want to kick yourself and go – “this is supposed to be fun”!!
I find it funny watching stressed tourists rushing around London trying to visit all the iconic sights on a 3 or 4 day trip…they miss so much. I have been in London for 20 months and I have barley scratched the surface!
People need to slow down, take things easy and enjoy themselves, without the attitude of having to try and visit every thing in a few days…
I think many people worry about going back home and someone asking if they’ve seen something only to say “no”. I guess there’s more to a place than things – the intangibles take much longer to recognize.
Some great advice. As a blogger – there are certainly times when traveling becomes work…a lot of work.
I agree with you that the preparation can often be a lot of work and it can easily spiral out of control. It’s often my most disliked part of travel. Hmmm – maybe they should bring back travel agents!
Would maybe force us to do less work!
Anil: I recently took a step back here in Nepal. It was forced – I found myself in places that simply had no Internet connectivity for days on end. Although it was initially stressful to disconnect, after a couple of days I realized that being so tied to the Internet was what my life used to be like when I worked for corporations. I realized I’d let the Internet take over my life to an unhealthy degree and as a result, this insidious stress had begun to creep up on me once again. I absolutely love my life of perpetual travel, writing and photographing, and I now realize how careful I need to be not to lose sight of what I so love.
That is an incredibly insightful point I think may people who work from the road need to consider when the balance skews itself toward work more than anything else.
I too have trouble and pain leaving the computer but realize that once I do, it only helps my morale for work and play 🙂
My biggest travel stress comes from balancing work and play these days. It’s great that working online allows me to travel, but sometimes I find myself sat indoors for days on end instead of going to the beach or getting outside and seeing something. Finding WiFi is the other major stress…when I find a place to rent that has great internet access, I tend to stay put!
Ah yes, the search for Internet. It’s true that it’s a big part of traveling and working – I plan for little, except Internet access. I have to coordinate carefully when I’m online and not as I’m sure you do too 🙂
dont you hate it when you get to a place and you love it.. you have a weekend or a few weeks… just an amazing time. And then you get home and you have to spend DAYSSSSS… editing, organizing, formatting… lol
hahaha, yup I know the feeling. Every moment of bliss offline is equivalent to twice as much time catching up!