A Little Advice…Regain Your Sanity When Things Go Wrong on the Road

Basket of fruits from Guatemala

Basket of Street Fruit

These past four months in Central America have been four of the hardest “travel” months of my life. I’ve been on the road for just under 18 months at this point and Central America has thoroughly exhausted me and essentially kicked my traveling ass.

I didn’t make a secret of that fact two weeks ago when I was frustrated beyond belief, sad, overwhelmed and just bone-tired of it all. It seemed like the Universe was conspiring against me, the gods of travel were just telling me to go home.

Matching Cheesy Grins from my niece and nephew

How Could I Not Miss these Matching Cheesy Grins from my niece and nephew?!

And then you all offered up advice. Heaps of advice. And it made the entire situation more consumable – I wasn’t the only one.

So in honor of that feeling that hits all long-term travelers, I’d like to share some of the best tips that helped me get out of my funk, or at least regain some humor about the trying things that happen on the road.

Travel Advice for Weary Travelers

  • Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: “It’s really important to be sure you’re still eating healthy foods that give you energy, because a lack of certain nutrients (such as B vitamins) can effect both our mood (mind) and stamina (body)…” —Trisha from Travel Writer’s Exchange
  • Assess Your Current Country & Consider Moving On: “Although  we loved Guatemala, I have to say that traveling there was emotionally difficult at times. Each time we would tell people our plans, the response would be “peligroso” and we’d have to figure out whether we would be faced with armed robbery or just standard pickpocketing. It also seemed like a national pastime for people (locals and expats) is to tell you the latest busjacking or kidnapping incidence in the country.” —Audrey from Uncornered Market
  • Pick a Place and Stay There: “Every time I feel similarly to how you’re feeling, I’ve realized that the constant movement from place to place was the culprit. And so I would just stop or I would move to some ideal place for 3 or more months in order to regroup” —Wandering Earl
  • Avoid Guilt, It Happens to Everyone:We found India to be difficult and we had quite a hard time with travel fatigue. To top it off we felt guilty having travel fatigue. It eventually went away after we decided to relax on the beach in Sri Lanka for 10 days.” —Deb from The Planet D
  • Chat with Family, Unplug, Meditate, & Exercise: “Problems don’t go away on the road, they are amplified in many ways so  eat well & take it easy. Skype friends & chat, unplug other wise. When you get shaken & feel more vulnerable, you need to fill up your cup, so you can enjoy the travel. Daily meditation and time in nature also helps us a lot & we are lucky to be surrounded by good hugabuddies. ;)” —Jeannie from Soul Travelers 3
  • It’s All Impermanent, It Will Get Better at Some Point: “I’ll chalk it up to my 10 days in Vipassana Meditation, but the Buddhist notion of impermanence applies here as well. It seems so bad at the time, but it’s a fleeting moment, circumstances are going to change.” —Me, this one’s what I kept telling myself.  :-)

A big thank you to all of the comments and support when I was feeling blue – there were a lot of other great tips within the comments of the travel fatigue piece, so check them out as well if you’re looking for a way to come back to level after experiencing travel fatigue!

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31 Responses to A Little Advice…Regain Your Sanity When Things Go Wrong on the Road

  1. Adam June 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Great tips! Saving this for later…

    • ShannonOD June 7, 2010 at 7:03 am #

      Thanks Adam – definitely worth remembering because it's likely inevitable at some point – but you've still got a while ;-)

    • ShannonOD June 7, 2010 at 7:03 am #

      Thanks Adam – definitely worth remembering because it's likely inevitable at some point – but you've still got a while ;-)

  2. Nomadic Chick June 2, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    Great recap! The fact is, we all need to recharge, even on the road.

    • ShannonOD June 3, 2010 at 7:10 am #

      Thanks! It was a hard lesson for me to learn because although I am fully into slow travel now…even that can cause fatigue and need a break! :-)

  3. Travel With a Mate May 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Some good advice there. It's interesting how prolonged travel or prolonged stays in locations other than what you would call “home” have profound effects on your mental state and emotions too. New feelings rarely felt before back home change the way you deal with your surroundings. I love how travel is as much about inner discovery as it is about culture, history and landscapes.

    • ShannonOD June 1, 2010 at 5:17 am #

      Thanks for weighing in :-) It's so true that you learn an incredible amount about yourself as you travel around and it takes some time sometimes to acclimate to the experience.

    • ShannonOD June 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

      Thanks for weighing in :-) It's so true that you learn an incredible amount
      about yourself as you travel around and it takes some time sometimes to
      acclimate to the experience.

  4. megan May 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Some really useful advice – am bookmarking this to use later in my trip! I've already noticed that the better I eat the better I feel – there's only so long that you can exist on bags of chips and chocolate bars because you can't be bothered to get proper food!!

    • ShannonOD May 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

      It is just so true, especially on the road it get's so important – I tend to seek out snickers bars when I am missing home…never good – why can't I crave and apple instead! :-) Good luck on your trip!

    • ShannonOD June 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

      It is just so true, especially on the road it get's so important – I tend to
      seek out snickers bars when I am missing home…never good – why can't I
      crave and apple instead! :-) Good luck on your trip!

  5. Gourmantic May 24, 2010 at 3:18 am #

    Glad you're feeling better now :)

  6. Fida May 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    So good to hear that you feel much better. You've received great advice. I always look for a good place to rest for at least a week, or I'd drive myself and everybody else insane.

    • ShannonOD May 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

      Thanks Fida! Those week breaks are really the key secret I think to keeping
      your sanity!

  7. Earl May 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    I'm happy to hear that some of the advice you received helped you snap out of that funk a bit. I think that many people simply don't realize that world travel can have such an exhausting, challenging side to it and you've shown the importance of accepting difficult times and then taking steps to try and re-gain your balance. And all of the comments you received offer endless ways to do just that.

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:54 am #

      Agreed Earl, I felt like the comments just covered so many of the key ways
      to fight fatigue I had to post the list! :-)

  8. Scott Shigeoka May 21, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Awesome advice…for a college kid like me who is looking to do long-term travel, advice like this is really good to have in the beginning! =) Keep chuggin' on, I enjoy reading your posts!

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:53 am #

      Definitely good to know upfront – perhaps one of the best ways to fight it
      off though would be going sooo slowly. It's really easy to go super fast at
      first. :-) Best of luck and keep me posted on your travels!

  9. Dave and Deb May 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Great round up Shannon. Travel is exciting and fulfilling, but sometimes you just need a break and these are all great suggestions to unwinds and refocus.

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:48 am #

      Thanks for contributing last week, your support and knowing you guys go
      through it too helps! :-)

  10. Andrew May 20, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    Great list. Travel burnout is one of those things I fight alot when traveling, so this is a helpful list ot keep in mind..

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:47 am #

      It just creeps up on you right?! I found camping out in a safe and “easy”
      spot really helped….I tried to pretend I wasn't traveling, lol. Cheers
      and safe travels :-)

  11. SoloFriendly May 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    This is very good advice (I second the advice about the B vitamins–we underestimate their role in our lives, and they are easily depleted from our bodies by the simplest things, like drinking alcohol). The frustration and “being tired of it” feeling is something that doesn't get talked about a lot in long-term travel circles, but must come with the territory.

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:43 am #

      I fully think that the B-vitamins could have played a role…I had stopped
      taking my multi-vitamin out of laziness and that could have done it! Thanks
      for stopping by :-)

  12. Adam May 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    Great advice here. The times when we got burned out on our year long RTW, we always felt guilty, like how can we possibly feel like this while on the trip of a lifetime? It was always encouraging to hear words of advice and also just hear that all long term travelers go through this. Great tips here for overcoming the burnout factor, which hits all of us at some point. Getting to the closest beach always seemed to be our best remedy. How can you possibly be stressed or unhappy at the beach?

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:44 am #

      I agree – you feel like it's so wrong to have these feelings when everyone
      else is back home working 5 days a week. Agreed on the beach though – an ice
      cold and frosty drink and a hammock always seem to do the trick!

  13. Stephanie May 20, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    This is great advice- thanks for sharing it! I definitely think travel fatigue happens to everyone once in awhile, particularly while traveling through more stressful areas.

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:36 am #

      You're welcome Steph – location certainly has something to do with
      it…travelilng in the UK may have given me stress because of prices and
      exchange rate, lol, but pretty safe :-)

  14. Maggie May 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Excellent advice, especially the eat well part. I find that when I'm feeling particularly stressed out and exhausted I tend to eat the worst possible foods, which only perpetuates the cycle.

    • ShannonOD May 22, 2010 at 12:37 am #

      Exactly! Me too, it's the comfort food aspect but it does no good in getting
      us out of the funk!

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