12 Proven Tips To Avoid Becoming Exhausted While Traveling

Travel is my drug. Whether I’m in Aspen or Athens, I get a rush from the colors, the sounds, and the tastes. It’s all so exciting. But travel can also be overstimulating, when suddenly — without warning — the novelty and sensory input are just exhausting. The fatigue can last as little as half an hour, or it can go on for a day or two. In some intense countries I’ve visited, like India, it can last much longer.

The word “travel” is related to the word “travail” — to engage in painful or laborious effort. The connection may seem odd to us now, but etymologists believe it’s probably because travel was a rather strenuous experience during the Middle Ages. Even today, it takes effort and energy — and sometimes we just run out!

Over the years, I’ve developed numerous strategies to prevent and reduce travel exhaustion. Here are the 12 best.

1. Know Your Enemy

Identify exactly what tires you. Crowds? Noise? Traffic? Babies crying? Teens shrieking? Deafening music? Too much running around in too short a time period? Define the source of your stress, and then strategize. For example, I find that noise from heavy traffic can be overwhelming, so I avoid wide, busy avenues. The same goes for noise in restaurants. Before I decide where to eat, I sometimes use an app like SoundPrint to gauge the noise level in a restaurant.

2. Pack Comforts From Home

It’s well worth the trouble to bring things from home that restore and sustain you. I bring tea bags (because the tea flavors I like are not always available), a mug, an electric immersion heater, my iPod, headphones, a headlamp (for reading at night without waking my husband), and Sudoku puzzle books. What’s on your list?

3. Rely On Routine

Often, when we travel, we forget the importance of routines, but without them, we can become as cranky as three-year-olds. The Dalai Lama, who has been exiled from his native Tibet for more than 60 years, knows something about stress. When asked if he had one word to describe the secret to happiness, he responded, “Routines.”

These routines will vary, of course. When my husband, Barry, and I first visited Oaxaca, Mexico, we took Spanish classes in the morning, keeping afternoons free for visiting museums, textile markets, and other tourist spots. Years later, while visiting Angkor Wat, the ancient and extensive Hindu ruins in Cambodia, we explored the sites in the morning. Then we’d relax at the hotel during the midday heat, napping and swimming in the pool. In the late afternoon, after the weather had cooled off, we’d check out another part of the ruins.

One of my favorite routines anywhere is to sit in our room or Airbnb in the mid-afternoon, drinking a cup of tea. I might go through the photos I took that morning, deleting the bad ones, or write in my journal.

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