. 7 things I learned from the day I almost quit traveling : Budget Travel Adventures

7 things I learned from the day I almost quit traveling

Howth Ireland quit travelingSouth Beach in Miami.  For many people, this is the ideal vacation spot.  For me, this is the place I almost quit traveling.

After a few weeks on the road for the College Football Travel Tour with Expedia, I was tired, missing home, lonely, and not having fun anymore.  Working with a big travel company on a sports and travel series may seem like the perfect job.  I realize many people may not feel sorry for me as this travel writing thing is supposed to be glamorous and fun.

Life on the road isn’t always easy.

However, I learned a few tips from my quit traveling experience that can help people get their lives back on track when you feel lost and discouraged.

When travel makes you want to quit traveling

I’ve had some incredible highs while traveling.  Hanging out with the Irish people reminded me that our connections with people matter.  Getting goose bumps at the Air Force Academy gave me a greater appreciation for sacrifice and service from a younger generation.  Throughout my travels, memorable moments have surprised me.

A few years ago, I cried on top of a mountain in Austria.  In Dublin, I had one of my most depressing days I’ve ever had on the road.  And while a 27 hour journey home can be frustrating, nothing may be worse than spending an entire day in your hotel because you are too burned out and emotionally spent to do anything.

Even when you are doing two of your favorite things in life – football and travel – not everything is bliss.  A recent conversation with Spencer Spellman comforted me knowing that travel can lose its sex appeal.  What I was feeling is normal.  Leah from Leah Travels told me to take a break and step back from the ledge.

I’m not the only traveler who has wanted to quit traveling.

Adam Baker from Man vs Debt made the decision to quit traveling a few years ago.  He talks about his struggles on the road with his family and why they decided to come back home and settle in Indiana.

Nomadic Matt has finally decided to settle down and become semi-nomadic after spending years on the road.  While he was tired of backpacking around the world, he wasn’t listening to what his head and heart were telling him.  This made him a little jaded about traveling.  While Matt won’t quit traveling, the time had come to make some changes.

Lillie Marshall took a year off to travel the world only to return to work.  She didn’t quit her job but realized that her job could allow her to help others while still traveling.  For some people, including myself, travel and a job go together very well.

7 things I learned to get your life back on track

Miami ocean quit travelingDo any search on the web and you will find countless articles on how to quit your job and travel the world.  My favorite story (and one of my favorite people) comes from Jodi of Legal Nomads who tells her story of why she quit her job to travel the world.

However, what happens when you want to quit traveling and go back to work?

I’ve been there recently.  I know what it feels like.  While traveling can give you euphoric highs, there are also some lows.

No matter what you do in life, there are times where we need a break.  Whether you are burned out from traveling around the world or worn out taking care of kids as a stay at home mom, you can get your life back on track.  Here are  a few things I learned from the day I almost quit traveling.

1.  Take some time off

For those who work for a living, they want time off to travel.  For those who are traveling, now may be the time to take time off.  Spend a day or two in your hotel or hostel.  Do nothing.  Schedule vacation days during your travels to keep from getting burned out.  No matter what you do in life, you need time off.

2.  Do something else

All of us have interests other than just traveling.  So whether you are on vacation or traveling around the world, don’t forsake your passions.  Read a book.  Watch TV.  Enjoy a sporting event cheering on your favorite team.  Do something you enjoy that has nothing to do with travel or your regular life.

3.  Sleep

Many times, our burnout comes from being emotionally spent and physically fatigued.  Get a good night’s sleep.  Splurge on a nice hotel for a night.  Getting the proper rest can recharge you with the proper perspective.

4.  Talk to people

If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone.  A hug, an attentive ear, or an understanding soul can help you work through your feelings or let you know that you are not alone.

5.  Power down

While technology helps us feel connected, it may also cause us to be disconnected.  It’s time for travelers and society to turn off their smartphones and get connected to the people and world around us.  We may not realize what we are missing until we turn off the noise.

6.  Find your security blanket

Is there some place or some thing that reminds you of home?  Maybe you need to go back there – even if it’s just in your heart or head.  Look at old photos, call home, or recall special moments that inspire or comfort you.

7.  Quit traveling

Even if you do all of these things, the time may come to take a break.  Whether that’s for a week, a month, a year, or forever, go home.  Sometimes going back to the familiar can give us the clarity and direction we need.

Over the next month, I am going to take a break from traveling.  The holidays are coming up so I will spend the month of December at home (if you will be away from home, use these holiday travel tips to ease the stress).

I need to refresh myself and get some focus.  I have plenty of stories to share but it’s my soul that needs a vacation from traveling.

While most people want to travel more, there is an important lesson I’ve learned:

A perfect life or the ideal job life won’t ever be perfect.

Has there ever been a time when you wanted to quit traveling?  What tips would you offer someone who misses home?

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  1. Miruna says:

    That’s a great post, Jeremy!
    As a person who has only traveled for pleasure around Europe and preparing herself for the big one (for almost a year:), I can’t say much, but I certainly understand you and I’m sure I’ll be using your tips when I’ll be on the road.
    Miruna recently posted..Atlantic Road, The World’s Most Scenic RouteMy Profile

    • After traveling on trips for about 8 years now, I’ve never been gone for more than a month. However, I think the burnout thing is more than just travel. I think it is an emotional well being thing. I think it’s much bigger than just travel – little sleep, emotionally drained, missing home, challenges of being on the road, not being connected to others. It’s a lot of factors.

      So when you hit the road, get sleep, build connections with people when you travel, take breaks to rest and enjoy down time, and do other things that you love as well.

  2. jaklien says:

    I hated traveling for work. Ever since I stopped doing that, I appreciate going away on holidays so much more.
    jaklien recently posted..Seven Sisters and their BottomsMy Profile

    • I agree with you. I’ve had to travel for work and it’s not the same. The danger is when traveling for fun becomes work. Then you are vulnerable to burnout from travel.

      I think there is a big difference between traveling and vacation. We all need a little of both.

  3. Thoughtful post. I hear ya on this. And I agree with what you say about “go do something else”. And my something else is always sports. When I’m jack shit of travelling, or blogging, and need a release I go to sporting events or read about it online or go hangout with my mates and drink beer and talk sports. I would go nuts if it was 24/7 travel (blogging)!!
    Craig Makepeace recently posted..The ONLY two things that count when you arrive at your death bedMy Profile

    • I think the difference for me is that I have a full time job. That has its own pressures and time consuming activities. So all the travel I do is done on my time off. I think that adds to the burn out and fatigue.

      I realized a long time ago that I don’t want to travel full time. Long trips are fine but never journeys around the world. I think this burnout has confirmed that it’s not for me. I like having a place I call home.

      I agree with you about the sports. That’s my escape from travel. However, part of the problem with burnout here is that sports is a part of the travel :)

  4. 30Traveler says:

    This is good advice. It never really occurred to me that travel bloggers would feel like they had to travel constantly until I started reading popular bloggers post about it. Trips generate so many stories. Even traveling 4-6 months a year, I can’t see how people would run out of enough stories for a whole year of blogging. I would hate to think the bloggers I enjoy feel like slaves to their readers :)
    30Traveler recently posted..5 Reasons I Love AmericansMy Profile

    • Ironically, I am not sure if travel burnout is something most readers care about. Most of them want to travel more so reading our complaints probably won’t get much sympathy. However, it is part of our story.

      For me, I wanted to write something my readers could relate to so that is why I provided the tips for anyone who is feeling burned out and wants to get back on track with their lives. I think there is a bigger picture moment even though many readers may not be able to relate to travel blogger burnout.

  5. This is why I always make an effort when traveling to spend time in beautiful outdoor settings. I find that I get burned out in the big cities, but rarely in the outdoors. In fact, if anything, the outdoors revives you and makes you appreciate things.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Porcupine Mountains Wilderness backcountry photo essayMy Profile

  6. Great advice, Jeremy. I’m glad you didn’t give into the feeling.

    Life is perfect just as it is.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Jamaica’s Rockfort Mineral BathsMy Profile

    • Well live isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. But I think that is the point. Whether it’s traveling or something else, all of us feel this way at some point in our lives. I am sure I will get burned out again. However, the comments have made me think that my burnout is a much bigger issue than just traveling. However, I am not quitting yet :)

      Have you ever felt this way?

  7. Priya says:

    I’m not a traveler ( yet). My soul needs a change. To see the rest of the world. But when I do, I’ll try to remember these tips!

    • Thanks Priya. Travel is a good thing. However, like all things in life, there can be too much of a good thing. Whether it’s travel or some other part of life, I think we all get tired, burned out, and struggle. So even though you may not be able to relate to the travel aspect, hopefully these tips are helpful for people at any time of life they are feeling overwhelmed.

  8. Yep, we can relate.

    As you know, we just finished a six month stint away from “home” and the last couple of weeks we just wanted to get back. Our home happens to be our motorhome, currently in the mountains south of Guadalajara, Mexico.

    We found that being away from home for six months is too long. It was our first trip travelling as backpackers and staying with couchsurfers and at pensions. We’ll keep those types of trips down to 3-4 months maximum in the future, interspersed with a few months back at the motorhome to get our heads together!
    http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com recently posted..Busy relaxing.My Profile

    • Home is definitely where the heart is – even if it’s a motorhome. Missing the comforts or familiarity of what we enjoy says something about us. There are those that travel full time or are nomadic and haven’t had a place to call home for years. However, I am sure they hit this wall at some point and have something that comforts them.

      For me, the people in my life are important too. That can be a security blanket and comfort. I think when we hit burnout, it’s more than just being overwhelmed by travel (or whatever other issue you might be facing). I think it’s a signal that things in our lives may be out of balance. Maybe that’s just me – have to think about that one some more.

      As for traveling, I decided a long time ago I never want to be a full time traveler. It’s not for me. The longest I have been on the road was a month. That was enough. I wouldn’t mind taking trips every few weeks. I think that would be awesome – if I don’t quit traveling of course :)

  9. I think that when you turn travel into your job it can become just like any other job. You will get burned out and tired of it at some time. I have not traveled for long periods of time but I think the hardest part about it would be not having a place just to relax since you are always on the move.
    Jeff @ GoTravelzing recently posted..The Festival of Fools in Belfast IrelandMy Profile

    • Absolutely! Travel can be like anything else in life – job, relationships, life. You have your ups and downs. While travelers may be the envy of many people, the life of a traveler is far from perfect.

      I think having a place to enjoy time to yourself is important. You don’t necessarily need a home but you need to get your energy back and focus. Introverts can tell you all about that (I know – I am one).

      I do think burnout is a sign of other issues – a symptom of a bigger problem. However, I am not ready to give any more answers on that one yet. May have to save that for another post :)

  10. This is precisely why Mary and I will likely never be long-term travelers. Even the thought of being away from my daughter, my dog, my bed, my HOME for 2 weeks in December (when we’re headed to Patagonia and Antarctica) has me a little edgy. I think allowing ourselves downtime between trips helps us appreciate the luxury of travel all the more, and to feel more energized when we do hit the road. After December, I think we’ll take at least a 6-week break… but you never know what opportunities may arise!
    Bret @ GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..Hiking Glacier National Park: Has the Crown of the Continent Lost Her Jewels?My Profile

    • Bret, I COMPLETELY agree with you! I decided a while back I could never be a long term traveler. I don’t want to say that this experience confirmed that because I already knew it. However, it has made me question whether I really want to do this at all (I guess that’s where the quitting part comes in).

      Like you, I have too many things in my life that keep me where I am. I like having a place to call home. I hope the tips I gave do help people. Again, you don’t need to be a traveler to experience burnout or the feeling of being overwhelmed.

      Hope you have a great time on your trip. And yes, take some time for yourself and enjoy a little downtime on the trip too.

      I think one thing that has been so hard for me is that these recent trips are a week or less. So I go as hard as I can knowing it will end soon. Then I come home and have to get caught up on everything here so that the feeling of burnout and catching up never goes away.

  11. So true. There’s no such thing as perfect, including the supposedly flawless life of full time travel.
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..17 Reasons NOT to Blow Off the Capital – San José, Costa RicaMy Profile

  12. Cassie says:

    Oh Jeremy, so sorry to hear you’ve been feeling this way! I thought football season is exhausting for us (traveling to Berkeley for every home game and the occasional away game), but it doesn’t compare to what you’ve been up to! I’m glad the season is almost over, you’ve been working hard and you deserve a break!

    To avoid the same thing, we are really trying to travel slower. It’s so hard to not keep moving, hopping flights and changing cities and hotels every night or two to see as much as you can (we make this mistake over and over again!). I’m considering putting a minimum stay requirement on us for our next trip. No going anywhere (especially if it involves a flight) for fewer than 4 consecutive days.
    Cassie recently posted..First Impressions Of The GalapagosMy Profile

    • I don’t want to make anyone think this series has been bad. However, I may have bit off a little more than I can chew (especially with a full time job). I love college football but I have to admit that this has felt like a lot of work lately. I do look forward to the next couple of weeks because I am getting back into college towns rather than big cities.

      That’s one reason I canceled on Berkeley (among other issues I had). I wanted to enjoy some time at home. Slow travel is definitely something I enjoy but with this series, that really isn’t possible. Yes, I am in one place for a few days but the research and activities are non stop.

  13. blinkpack says:

    Burnouts happen. It’s inevitable especially if you’ve been doing something for a long time. It’s like eating your favorite dish, if you eat every day for every meal, you’re bound to get tired of it at one point.

    I think the trick is to allow yourself to step back and take a break so you can do a little evaluation, see the bigger picture, and appreciate the things you love.
    blinkpack recently posted..Travel Tip Tuesday: Staying FreshMy Profile

    • Except for me, I am probably not normal. I could eat the same thing for a LONG time before I get tired of it. :)

      Travel is definitely different. No two days are ever the same. Maybe that’s part of it too. Like eating the same meal every day, there is some comfort in the familiar.

      As for the remedy, I agree with you. I think you will find the same message in my tips. However, I also think burnout is a bigger issue than what it seems. I think burnout is attached to “travel” in this case but it’s a symptom of bigger problems underneath. Haven’t peeled back the layers enough to explore that one though.

  14. Leslie says:

    I think most long-term and frequent travelers can relate to this post! Great advice– it’s good to take a break once in a while to avoid burnout :)
    Leslie recently posted..Hotel Perks: Ben Folds Five Concert at the NYC Westin Grand CentralMy Profile

    • Thanks Leslie. Burnout can happen to any of us no matter what we do. For us, it’s travel. For others, it can be a job, stressful situation, taking care of a family, etc. I think it’s important to recognize it and even more important to take steps to get back on track.

      Have you ever experienced this? If not in travel, in other areas?

  15. Great post! In life, there are those times when we need to step back and change gears. Its important to listen to that little voice before it starts screaming at you and you do something you’ll regret later.
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Dreaming of a European River CruiseMy Profile

    • Thanks Debbie. I think you’ve hit on something that I’ve been thinking about since I wrote this. I think burnout is a sign of bigger issues underneath the surface. I think a lot of us can handle stuff that comes our way. However, burnout happens when too many areas of our life are out of balance or too many needs aren’t being met.

      Burnout may just be the little voice that is now screaming at you.

  16. Jenna says:

    I agree with you on the sleep tip. I actually got little rest last week in Italy even though I was away from work and the kids, so I have been trying to catch up since being back, and it definitely makes me feel better. And we have to be realistic and remember that traveling is not always fun, especially when it’s too much all at once. It’s normal to feel lonely and frustrated sometimes no matter what we are doing.
    Jenna recently posted..Innovation in Historic FlorenceMy Profile

    • I think that is always an issue for me. I am never getting enough sleep. That takes its toll and definitely plays a role in burnout (as I write this, I have to get up in 4 hours for a flight).

      The more I’ve thought about this, I think burnout is a sign of many things in your life that are out of whack. While I can blame travel, it’s actually a lot of other things that led me to this point (lack of sleep being one of them).

      Anyone that thinks travel is the perfect job doesn’t understand life. No matter what you do or how you enjoy something, life is always going to have ups and downs. We just need to pay attention to all the other stuff going on around and inside of us.

  17. Red Hunt says:

    Wow, I as just on the As We travel site and read a totally similar post about the stress of constant travel. Taking breaks is so important to re-charge and re-evaluate things. Keep the passion alive!
    Red Hunt recently posted..Visiting a Top Secret Russian Submarine BaseMy Profile

    • Thanks for letting me know about the As We Travel post. I went over there and read their’s as well. Seems to be a theme for a lot of travelers these days. Interesting that not as many people travel full time as we may think. Maybe that says something about needing breaks or a place to call home. Burnout is a real thing for a lot of people and a sign that there may be a few things in life out of whack.

  18. I hear you man — moving from city to city every few nights is not my thing at all. I have a hard time leaving a city after a month. :)

    Glad that you didn’t quit entirely!
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Inadvertently Funny Job Titles on UAE’s Visa ApplicationMy Profile

    • Slow travel is a good way to travel. I can’t really complain about the time I’ve spent in places. Generally, I spend about a week in each city that I visit. However, I think part of my burnout is having life out of balance and being disconnected in other areas. The other part of is that it became more work than fun.

      Thankfully, this past week made traveling fun again.

  19. Laurence says:

    It’s all about finding the right balance I think. I travelled full time, and loved it, but then I decided I needed a base. So now I travel part time. Luckily I have established a business that lets me travel for significant chunks of time (3-5 months), and be at home for the remainder. That’s my balance. It sounds like you’re on the road to finding yours, and I applaud you. Once you’re out of the bubble of worrying about other people’s opinions of how you should be living your life, it all becomes easier :)
    Laurence recently posted..Exploring the Nuria Valley in the PyreneesMy Profile

    • Laurence, your situation would be my idea travel life. I don’t want to travel full time. However, part time travel with enough money to make ends meet would be ideal. However, I think balance is key. And not just balance between traveling and being home. By balance, I mean balance in all areas of life.

      For me, I sacrificed other areas of my life and needs weren’t getting met. I still struggle with that honestly. So with life being out of balance and travel becoming more work than fun, life wasn’t that much fun and travel burnout was the symptom of a bigger problem.

      Fortunately, my last week of traveling has been a lot more enjoyable. I think the destination has something to do with it as well.

  20. Amanda says:

    Travel is definitely not as glamorous as most people think – especially when you’re doing a lot of it. Yes, it’s amazing and fun and absolutely worth it most of the time. But we all have “those days.”

    I think striking a balance is key. Sure, I like chocolate a lot. But if ALL I do is eat chocolate, I’m going to get sick and start to hate it and crave something else. I still want a lot of chocolate in my life, but I need other things, too.

    I love traveling more than just about anything, but I’m still not convinced I could become a nomad and live permanently out of a backpack. I need other things to keep me busy; I need travel to continue to be my escape, not my main job.

    I hope you’ve recovered from your burnout and will keep traveling!
    Amanda recently posted..An Ode to Tacky SouvenirsMy Profile

    • Traveling is fun but not always glamorous. Travel writing is hard work although those who feel like they don’t travel enough won’t show us much sympathy.

      However, being on the road, in airports, packing bags, and carrying our lives in a suitcase can get old. Balance is definitely key. I think that was part of my burnout. Traveling was becoming a chore, a job, and not fun. Combine that with other areas of my life being out of balance and it was bound to happen. Travel became a job I didn’t enjoy and burnout was the symptom of a bigger problem.

      Thankfully, this last week of traveling has been fun again.
      Jeremy Branham recently posted..Louisiana plantation life and history lessons at Houmas HouseMy Profile

  21. Neelima V says:

    Quite recently while traveling in some remote part of India, where backpacking isn’t really possible, I tried for a week but in the end I just wanted to go home. And so I booked my ticket out and flew back home. I really felt like I needed a break!
    Neelima V recently posted..Answering your Questions – Ask me Anything : Part 2My Profile

  22. Michaela says:

    Your post adds another dimension to the quote that says if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

    Where’s the tipping point when doing what you love actually does become work? I would guess it happens when ones travels are planned/funded by others. I notice that my travel for work is no where near as fun as my personal travels. Even with the consideration of traveling “for free”, work travel leaves a lot to be desired.
    Michaela recently posted..The Lands Nobody WantedMy Profile

  23. Agree. Been on the road for 2 years now, but I’ve stopped and lived in one place 3 different times for at least 3 months to slow down and re-charge. Usually that’s all I need before I’m anxious to get out there again to explore somewhere new.
    Matthew Karsten recently posted..Delicious Purple Corn [PHOTO]My Profile

    • I’ve realized I could never be a full time traveler. I love having a place to call home. Maybe that’s just part of my personality and who I am. However, it still doesn’t mean I don’t want to go places. Even after all the traveling recently where I got burned out, I am still disappointed that I have nothing planned for the next month. It’s still good to be home though.

  24. Joy says:

    I never used to get homesick when I traveled. While living in China though it was a feeling that I had to get accustomed to. Doing things that reminded me of home didn’t help. Sometimes hanging out with other foreigners helped. But usually just feeling homesick until it passed helped a lot. I let myself feel those feelings instead of trying to suppress them.

    • Very good advice Joy. Sobering but good. I don’t think anyone wants to feel that way when they travel. It’s not fun. However, I think it takes a little glitz out of travel. It isn’t always easy or fun, especially if you have made it a way of life. Dealing with those feelings when they come is the healthiest thing you can do. It may not make it easier in the moment but we need to find ways to cope when we are struggling.

  25. memomgrapher says:

    A nice read. Good Seven tips for long time travelers. For others- “Hanging out with the Irish people” may fix all problems ;)
    memomgrapher recently posted..On My Shelves. My Travel Bring-back Collection. Season 2My Profile

    • Ha! Good point about the Irish! They deal with bad weather but love to drink and chat. I think there is a good tip in there though – when struggling with travel burnout, find someone to connect with and just talk!

  26. Omar Sherif says:

    Very informative article!. I think we can learn a lot from your experience, and how to deal with stress while traveling as well as how to avoid getting over drained especially if you are going solo!

    • When you go solo, it can be tough. That really depends on where you are traveling, your personality and needs, how long you have been gone, and many other factors.

      I think it’s a reminder that we all need balance in our lives. Too much of a good thing can still be bad if there isn’t the proper balance in life.

  27. Ray says:

    Hi Jeremy, I am fresh off of a year and a half 43 state R.V. trip, back to the real world. I have found myself depressed and day dreaming of getting back on the road. I want to drive around the world and I need some help of how to make that happen. Could you contact me so we could talk about it? I would love to get your input………….SMILES Ray

    • Ray, that sounds like an awesome trip. I love driving but hate traffic. However, an RV would be fun. Not sure I have many tips on how to take a trip like this though. I think this could be a fun way to travel.

      What were your experiences like? Did you get tired of driving? Did you enjoy time in the RV when you weren’t driving? Did you get tired of the RV?

  28. Ashish Patel says:

    great tips. thanks for the share :) I travel with my girlfriend and we take breaks in countries where we travel and stay longer then we plan. that’s good to stay not tired.
    Ashish Patel recently posted..How I Make Money In Thailand?My Profile

    • Taking breaks are important, especially when you are traveling for long periods. During these trips, I would be gone about 7 days at a time. However, I didn’t have any time to really take a break. That’s why I get burned out. When I travel on other trips, I have built in relaxation days. But I still tend to be one who wants to hike and explore nature even on a relaxing day. Guess I’ve gotten used to being tired all the time from traveling :)

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