A recent CNNGo article The 8 signs of Travel Burnout made me ponder my own extended travel and the potential for burnout and in particular, my 2004 trip around the world, visiting 26 countries in 12 months.
Much of the CNNGo article resonated with me. I tried not to bitch too much while we blogged: only pointing out many of the personal feelings that resonated when living out of two suitcases, a camera and computer bag for a full year.
I did start seeking the comforts of home—at one point, I yearned for a Sunday off, able to sleep in, in my own bed, make some french toast and enjoy the Sunday Times. Once in New Delhi, we longed for some western food (but hey, we love Indian and in particular Thali) that we ended up having pizza in a Pizza Hut, with some Westernized locals. Yes, there was some guilt associated with this pizza pie-eyed splurge, but just a little.
Here is an extract from our travel blog: www.followsummer.com , 4.5 months into the trip. You’ll find that it sums up the CNNGo article pretty succinctly:
Sunday, April 25th, 2004
It is inevitable that on all great trips, big or small, extended or not, one begins to feel a little weary from the actual process of traveling. Our story and our travelling so far has been a sweet success – we have so many memories. The web postings tell a very accurate tale of our travels but not completely. It would be naïve of me to think that our trip of a lifetime was not going to have some bumps in the road.
I had begun to feel this travel weariness upon our arrival in India and this feeling was exacerbated by the sheer volume of people and the complexity of their lives that confronted us daily. I began to pine for familiar things and routine. I missed having a “home” to come to every night after seeing so many homeless people. I grew lethargic and disinterested in seeing one of the most complex and invigorating countries in the world. I can’t say that my western eyes were shocked at what I saw; I had readied myself somewhat for the hardship and the incomprehensibility around me. The time we spent in Indonesia and Thailand prior to this had given us some inkling of what to expect in India and yet I could feel this travel depression beginning to creep into my pores.
I began having longer naps in the afternoon. I slept later in the morning. I became bored and critical with the seemingly canned commentary our guides were tossing us. I began to glance over the fascinating beauty of the wide-eyed children in their dirty clothes and the brown, windswept mountains that supported the Maharaja’s palaces. The cattle, goats, pigs, camels, water buffalo, sloth bears, monkeys and elephants could continue to live in the streets – I didn’t care. I even started to become outwardly angry at the many hawkers and street vendors innocently plying their trades, pestering me to buy things that I neither wanted nor had any use for. And John. Poor John. He was always on the receiving end of most of my weariness.
After the requisite wallowing, I began to understand that this was all part of the process of travelling. I tried not to view this in a negative way. I began to understand and accept a certain physical reaction to my surroundings. Heat, sweat, heat, heat and of course dehydration all play an integral part in the wellbeing of any travelling adventurer. As I focus on accepting the reality of the situation and place it in a human and almost an inevitable context, I start to see the beautiful kohl-lined eyes of that Rajasthani baby girl staring at me as I pass her in the Agra marketplace. I am just as foreign and exotic to her as she is to me. And hopefully as beautiful.
Travel well, my friends…