17 Signs You’re Experiencing Travel Burnout

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Like most decisions of great consequence, my plan to pedal my bicycle around the world was made in a pub, beer in one hand, mini-atlas in the other. Three years later and I find myself in South America, and I have been cycling here for so long now that from a distance, and in a certain light, the pattern of veins on my calves has an undeniable likeness to Che Guevara’s face.

But there’s long and there’s too long. The latter is when the Law of Diminishing Returns bites you in the ass. A time after which craning your neck by more than 45 degrees to admire a heavenly panorama is preceded by an internal debate and a sour grumble to yourself of, “Well, it better be worth it.”

“Travel Burnout” is the most fitting moniker to describe this slow rot. In the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, after a seven-hour DVD binge and realization I had paid scant attention to the reportedly charming colonial buildings and churches just around the corner, I wondered if I was in fact burning out, or at least fizzling.

For anyone who wonders if perhaps they are approaching the same point in their travelling lives, here are 17 tell-tale signs of Travel Burnout.

1) The prospect of watching a DVD instills in you a level of joy roughly equal to witnessing the birth of your first child.

2) There is a high likelihood you are harboring several undiagnosed parasitic infections. Following a period of unease, this is now something you are actually quite proud of.

3) When listening to stories recounted by travelers you meet in hostels, you always interrupt early on by yawning, resting your feet on the nearest surface, lighting a rolled up cigarette and declaring, “Well when I was in [Insert blank country here].” You go on to tell an elaborate but fictional tale which usually ends with, ” . . . and then we had to burn his arms off.”

4) You wear clothes inside out to get a few more days out of them

5) Your sexual encounters now almost exclusively involve backpackers who are increasingly hairy and who sleep under tarps.

6) You have called up your travel insurance company to inquire as to whether your policy specifically covers accidental loss (or sale of) non-vital organs.

7) You use the Lonely Planet for three purposes only:

• To find other backpackers when you’re feeling lonely.

• To mop up leaked fluids in a backpack.

• To hurl at persistent hawkers.

8) You have amassed an extensive collection of photos of signposts of rude and silly-sounding place names

9) To reduce the weight of your luggage you have:

• Cut the handle off your toothbrush.

• Removed the fabric of your boxer shorts which goes between your legs creating a boxer shorts-skirt.

• Removed all potentially life-saving medication from your medical kit (and replaced with extra shoelaces and herbal tea).

10) You use the phrase, “You know that money you owe me . . . ” whenever you speak to old stoner friends on Skype who have never lent you money. It has become a lucrative source of income.

11) You have given up all hope of remembering people’s names and now refer to them by their hometowns which are easier to remember. Boston owes you $50 and you’re likely never going to see him again.

12) You regularly scratch plans to visit a museum, cathedral or other notable local attraction to instead philosophize with hostel owners, tour guides and bartenders.

13) You often find yourself wondering whether you had a birthday last month

14) Occasionally, you have an entourage of worshipful disciples like in Forest Gump

15) You have personally encountered several travelers who have since appeared on Locked Up Abroad.

16) You have perfected the ability to kill mosquitoes between your thumb and index finger while drunk, juggling or asleep.

17) You have once got blind drunk, passed out and then come to at a diametrically opposed point on the Earth’s surface. This may actually be a good thing.

By Steve Fabes


About the Author

stevefabesbiopicSteve Fabes is a British medical doctor and freelance writer. Like many decisions of great consequence, his plan to cycle the length of six of the earth’s continents was made in a pub garden, beer in one hand, mini-atlas in the other. After riding more than 20,000 miles through 33 countries over the last three years, he is still only half way through his epic journey. To follow his story visit Cyclingthe6.blogspot.com.

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