How to Beat Travel Burnout and Culture Shock

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Travel can uplift and inspire but it can also become a frustrating debacle.

When the romanticized first couple of weeks or months of traveling wears off, is usually when travel burnout settles in. Experiencing the extreme highs and lows is all a part of the experience of traveling but it does not have to be the focal point of your trip either.

Burnout can happen to the best of travelers. There are moments when you crave just a moment to yourself with all the comforts of home that you had left behind. That’s normal.

The signs of travel burnout:

  • Getting aggressive
  • Stop respecting local culture
  • Stress over trip planning
  • Traveling stops being fun

The best cures for burnout:

  • Slow down, take a break and rest
  • Keep a journal to understand what is creating or sparking the burnout
  • Be active that you help you balance both physically and mentally (exercise and meditation help)
  • Be flexible in your plans
  • Don’t take yourself or your trip too seriously
  • Email and/or Skype family and friends back home

In my travels, burnout has happened due to many factors. One of those factors was being in a culture that was so dissimilar to my own that I went into complete culture shock.

Culture shock is a condition that many people experience when first exposed to a different culture. It is due to being in an environment completely different from one’s own. (Check out Claire’s take on culture shock, “An American Woman in South Korea“.)

Common symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Extreme homesickness
  • Withdrawal from people who are different
  • Depression

Cross-cultural adjustment is a process that goes in stages and will therefore take time to improve the symptoms of culture shock.

Here are a few suggestions to help with culture shock:

  • Keep active
  • Work on language skills
  • Make friends
  • Exercise (A sight-see run, for example)
  • Participate in community activities
  • Be patient

Now that you know what it takes to beat burnout and culture shock, be ready to return home and experience the “reverse” or “re-entry” culture shock.

The symptoms of reverse culture shock are similar to those of culture shock. Reverse culture shock, at times, requires lots of support, patience and time to reacclimatize to returning home.

What to keep in mind is that every traveler experiences burnout and at times culture shock. Keeping these tips and trigger cues in mind helps realize that this is all a part of the experience of traveling.

What are your tips for beating the travel burnout? Have you ever experienced culture shock?

Share.

About Author

Kara Rogers is a freelance writer and global health consultant. When she is not reading about global health policy and programs, she spends most of her time dealing with a permanent case of wanderlust. Most recently, she has returned from Rwanda where she worked in rural villages as a health and community development Peace Corps Volunteer. Follow her @kararogers

7 Comments

  1. Whenever travel stops being fun, you need to take a day off- do nothing, sleep in, indulge in “normal” things. the next day I usually wake up and am ready to go again! Love the pic btw!

  2. Good tips – I’ve never really experienced serious burn out; for various reasons I often feel more at home when on the move than I do when I’m “at home”, but communication barriers and so forth can get to anyone. I would echo Ayngelina’s comment – slow down, do something nice for yourself.

  3. About culture shock: I try to learn as much as possible before venturing into a culture which is very, very different from my own. That and learning at least a few words of the language has served me well.

  4. This definitely resonates with me! Sometimes people don’t realize how exhausting travel can be. It isn’t all about vacation! When I feel burnt out, I like to take about a week to myself (preferably on a beach) and just read/do nothing!

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