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I Never Thought it Would Happen to Me – Travel Burnout

I love travelling, which is part of the reason Steve and I quit our jobs to travel around Southeast Asia.  I have always been interested in learning about how other people live, and travelling brings me to places where I can experience a world outside of the one I know.  Travelling helps me appreciate what I have, and opens my mind up to different ways of doing things. Seeing the sunrise or sunset in a different part of the hemisphere, or seeing the stars and moon in different positions in the sky is amazing. Tasting different foods, smelling different smells, learning about the history of a culture or a monument are things that make me happy and grateful. Everyday there is something new to see or to learn, and I find that incredibly exciting and invigorating.

Why then was I more interested in having pizza and watching tv in our hotel room than heading out to go sightseeing? Could I be experiencing travel burnout/fatigue?

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but by the time we arrived in Bangkok I felt done, and I kind of had a breakdown.  As it was, I really wasn’t looking forward to Bangkok either. I’m not a fan of big cities, and Bangkok has about 10-15 million people living there, and that’s not including the hundreds or thousands of tourists visiting at any time.

I had a little rant about how I was sick of living in the same t-shirts, and of always having to zip up everything I own or face the critters. Even staying in the higher end hotels, we have still had to deal with tiny ants crawling all over our toiletries, and geckos running around our room chirping all night. There have been spiders of varying sizes, and most recently we’ve shared our bathroom with a rather large frog. I just wanted to brush my teeth with tap water again, and not have to constantly be applying bug repellant so that I won’t get malaria or dengue. I was feeling tired and as much as I didn’t want to go home, I did want the comforts of home.

The three or so weeks we spent in Bali were much slower, and we weren’t doing a lot of sightseeing or even leaving our hotel. To be fair, we had a pool villa so why would we want to leave?  I think that’s when the burnout started because I lost the enthusiasm for seeing the ‘to dos’ I had marked on our map.  I felt guilty because we had travelled all that way and we weren’t even leaving the hotel, and that just seemed so wrong. But, taking the time to rest a bit and then choose a few highlights rather than having to see and do everything was probably the best decision for us.

While in Bali we had also started to talk about going home early, and we even tried to see what options were available. Steve isn’t as into travel as I am, and he was pretty tired and was ready to go home after about the first month or two of being away.  Also, because of the choices we made to travel in a more luxurious way versus budget (cheaper), our travel budget money was already spent, and we thought that the cost of changing our ticket home would still be less expensive than staying and travelling for another few weeks.

Our adventure was always going to have an end date and we had scheduled our return ticket home for the beginning of March. Because of Steve’s heart attack, we are not able to get a full year of travel insurance, but we (he) can only be insured for six months at a time before we have to come back to Canada for a day (24 hours) and then we would be able to get another six months of insurance again.

I was very torn about going home early, even if it was just a couple of weeks early. On the one hand I was feeling a bit tired and I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to be in a bad place financially when we got back. But on the other hand, I wasn’t ready to stop discovering new places (even though I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to go next anyway) and quite frankly I didn’t want to (and still don’t want to) have to give up my shorts and sandals and wear sweaters and parkas again – ugh!

As fate would have it, we were not able to change our tickets because of the timing of Chinese New Year (Feb 19). Millions of Chinese travellers set out on their holidays from February 17-27 as we found out. As a result, hotels book up months in advance, and hotel and airfare prices skyrocket if you can find them.

It has been a frustrating and difficult few weeks, which is why I haven’t been keeping up with writing and telling my stories. I’m happy to say though that everything has worked out perfectly, and I trust that everything happens for a reason.

We left Bali and spent almost a week in Bangkok. Like I said, I was full into travel fatigue, and the first few days we didn’t do too much of anything. I think once we accepted that wouldn’t be heading home early, and once we FINALLY worked out a plan for where we would be going next, our burnout lifted (along with the stress) and we became more interested in having experiences again. We booked an overpriced tour through the hotel to see the Grand Palace and temples in Bangkok. It was during that tour that I started to once again feel excitement in seeing new things, and I started to feel happier again.

We have a little under two weeks left to this journey, and knowing that there are just a few days left, I think has helped to keep me in the moment a bit more. I have also come to realize that I don’t need to cram my days full of tours and sightseeing, and I feel okay lazing around enjoying the sun. I am trying to let go and not be hard on myself because I haven’t been writing more. When I get home to the freezing temps, I figure that I will have plenty of indoor time to get caught up on documenting our adventures. Plus, the internet should be reliable (once we hook it up again) and I’ll be able to upload the hundreds of photos and videos I have been taking.  Till then while the sun is hot here and my enthusiasm is up again, I’m going to go enjoy what I have and try to keep having new experiences and making some new stories I can tell later.

We are currently a few hours outside of Bangkok on Pattaya Beach for a few more days, then we are off to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to see Angkor Wat!

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