That’s how long I’ve been traveling so far. And let me tell you what — it’s not always exciting.
Like any routine job, traveling can catch up to have its own routine, where things are the same and they eventually become redundant. Across the last 11 months, I remember that every now and then I’d get tired of meeting new people because the questions were all the same and very much predictable. “Where are you from?”
“How long are you traveling for?”
“Where have you been already?”
“Where are you headed next?”
And then there are the usual conversations that spark up from:
“Wow! You have great English! Where did you learn it?”
“What?! You’re traveling alone? Isn’t it dangerous to travel alone AND as a woman?!”And while I don’t mind talking about these things and frankly I am quite proud of myself with what I’m doing and I would love to share my stories, there are just days when it’s all you always talk about. It gets redundant. Boring.
There comes a point when you’ve had enough of something and you’d like something different — like staying in for a change, or not having to always have the urge to explore a place but seem to have a normal life with friends to meet over drinks on a regular basis. Maybe go to the same cafe every day.
Any prolonged activity will make you experience fatigue. True enough, this lifestyle has the upper hand of being more flexible with schedules and traveling and I’m not complaining but I’m writing this to show people that it’s not all rainbows and it’s not always exciting. There are bad days like anyone else has; there are boring days like anyone else has, but just a different kind of boredom and redundancy.
I remember in Bali, I didn’t talk to anyone for 5 days, apart from the uber friendly receptionist in my hostel. She was giddy talking to me because it was my birthday week and she was eager to know my plans. In Myanmar, I intentionally took a retreat for myself to recover. To just sleep and eat healthily. To breathe, relax, and reflect. In Hoi An, I stayed for two weeks not doing much to take a break from driving during my motorbike trip across the country. In the end, Hoi An felt like home. I went to the same cafe every day, met with friends on a regular basis and I just shoot the shit.
In other times, you see the same things. When you travel across Asia, temples are everywhere. There’s a common phrase among travelers we call “templed out”. It’s when you’ve seen enough temples that they all start to look the same and the spark is gone. Growing up in Asia, I was templed out quite early on but I did find the temples in Bali and Myanmar to be stunning and something different from what I’m used to.Right now, I’m “city-ed” out. The last couple of months have been around the concrete jungle — a litter of cars, tall buildings, and street noise (with the exception of Japan). I was never a city person to begin with. Most people know me as an island girl and that’s where I’m happiest. But from time to time, I want to break out of my comfort zone and explore something different. Although I did a few out-of-city trips in between, the city life just caught up to me. And now I’m tired of the concrete jungles. I have a few more big cities to go to but it’s all right. Right now, I’m recharging for the week in my hostel here in Seoul.
I thoroughly enjoyed two cities, though — Taipei and Tokyo. Those two are etched in my heart. I’ll keep going back whenever I can.Travel fatigue can be caused by several things like the discomfort during long flights and bus trips, moving around too quickly from one place to the next (which I have been forced to do since East Asian countries are quite expensive), lack of sleep, and so on.
Traveling is amazing. It’s exhilarating. It’s a great learning experience about the world and especially about yourself… but like anyone, give yourself a break. Take time for yourself. Take a vacation from traveling and book yourself a day in the spa or in a comfortable room where you can sleep in to physically and mentally rest.
At the end of the day, traveling isn’t always about the pretty sights.
“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”