Sometimes I Don’t Love Travel

There, I said it.

Right now I’m sitting in my guesthouse in Vang Vieng, one of the party capitals of South East Asia. It’s famous for riverbed tubing and riverbank drinking. I tried to go tubing yesterday, but thanks to a really low water level and some crooked tuk tuk drivers I wasn’t very succesful. I don’t really feel like partying. I don’t really feel like doing anything but sitting in my room, eating chocolate croissants and writing. It seems like such a waste of time, I could be doing this at home.

I’m not supposed to feel like this. I’m a travel blogger for pete’s sake! I LOVE travel! I’m like a travel evangelist. But I’m sure that even Pat Robertson has an off day. Right now, I’m really just not feeling it.

If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know that I planned this trip for forever. I saved up for two years. TWO YEARS. For two years I lived at home, and worked a boring job and pinned all my motivations, and hopes, and dreams on this adventure.

And now I’m on this trip, living and breathing it. I’m close to 6 months in, and while I have a lot of great stories and photos to share, I’d be lying if I said it’s exactly what I’d hoped it would be. It’s rained. A lot. I’ve had issues going on at home that have been stressful. And I miss my boyfriend, more than I really should.

Then I reach a place like Vang Vieng. A place that a lot of people adore, but that frankly isn’t me. I’m not comfortable here. Hordes of young backpackers day drinking into oblivion and watching Family Guy re-runs. Not that I have anything against either of those things, it’s just not my mood right now. I feel dull. And old.

Karina Henriette

I’m still glad to be travelling, but sometimes I look around and thing that everyone is having more fun than me. Or that I’m not fully taking advantage of the oppurtunities I have. Sometimes, like today, I just feel really burnt out.

Then I start to feel terribly guilty. I’m out here, living the dream, living MY dream of writing and working and travelling. Everyone I meet tells me β€œyou’re so lucky,” and β€œI wish I coul do that.” I know I AM lucky, so why am I sitting alone in my room throwing myself a pity party?

It felt really good just to admit this, because it’s not something I see many travel bloggers mentioning. Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect that a lot of you long-term travelers feel the same way- even if nobody wants to talk about it.

I think that when you are travelling long term, it is just impossible to keep up that enthusiam and adrenaline that you might have on a shorter trip. Day to day living can get you down no matter where you are.

I guess it’s probably not supposed to be easy.

So I’m givin my permission to blow off Vang Vieng. It is MY trip after all. And it’s not like the place hasn’t been thoroughly blogged about already by other people. I’ll save my energy for other adventures in places I’m better suited to.

The Flip Side (PLEASE READ):

It’s funny what a difference a day can make. After I finished writing this yesterday, I met up with a friend and did actually head down to the parties on the river. You know what? It was a lot of fun. I drank and danced and, while I didn’t get as crazy as a lot of the people out there, I still had a good time And while I’m still not wild about Vang Vieng, I guess now I at least understand what all the fuss is about.

So why am I still posting this whiny pity party rant? I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys, because I think that low points are an inherent part of travel, even if we travel bloggers like to gloss over them with stories about the awesome stuff.

I think that there’s a certain danger in reading travel blogs, in that when you identify so much with a person on certain levels, you start to let their experiences and opinions influence your own. I read a LOT of travel blogs, and when I see someone else really enjoying somewhere I didn’t or couldn’t, I start to question what MY problem is.

Facebook and flickr, and twitter and blogs are all such excellent ways os sharing your experiences, but I can’t be the only person who ends up comparing her experiences and wondering what else she could have done?

It’s always useful to remind myself that we are all different people with different experiences and opinions. Maybe Kate over at Adventurous Kate loved it here, but (while I admire her energy), I’m not her, and it’s okay that it didn’t ring true for me.

Not only is that OK, it’s preferable. We’re not all supposed to like the same stuff. Vang Vieng isn’t my thing, but loved Koh Samui, and lots of people hate it there. You don’t want your trip to be a carbon copy of someone elses anyways. That’s the joy of travel: it’s in the unpredictable.

I think that down days are a normal part of travelling and all you can do is take a deep breath and remind yourself that tomorrow is, of course, another day.

81 Responses to Sometimes I Don’t Love Travel

  1. NomadicNeill March 13, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    Hey, I’m sure everyone has similar experiences. My longest trip lasted 18 months and the last 6 months I was kind of over it.

    I still did lots of amazing things and met lots of people but in a way I was lonely, lonely for stability and a group of friends that don’t change every couple of days.

    Like you I felt guilty about this, because I was supposed to be having the time of my life 24/7. But it doesn’t work that way.

    I don’t think I’ll ever go on such a long trip again, I have other goals now.

    But it’s part of the learning experience. You really start doing what you want to do. If you want to sit around drinking happy-milkshakes all day, you do it. If you want to visit a temple you do it, if you want to go for a walk you do that. You stop trying to do all the things you think you should be doing.

    I’ve found that feeling has carried over in to the rest of my life.

  2. Erin March 13, 2011 at 10:28 AM #

    It happens to everyone – the burnt out and then the guilt that you should be enjoying yourself. We have been to plenty of places where we just haven’t done anything at all. You definitely need some down time when travelling.

    Just do what you feel like doing and remember that we’ve all been there.

  3. Lisa | LLWorldTour March 13, 2011 at 10:43 AM #

    Yep. I have definitely been there. Well not to Laos…but when traveling for 2 1/2 yrs during my RTW trip, there were many just ‘blah’ moments. Yes, there were amazingly high moments and that major adrenaline you mentioned was pumping more than in ‘normal’ life, but it often made the lows feel lower.
    Despite the highs, there were one too many times it was just quiet and I was alone in my own head to think too much!

    But like ‘normal’ life, it comes and goes and I always had to remember that it was ‘life’ not a vacation. Plus I always had to allow myself time to acclimate to new places every time I’d move on.

    Great post.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:45 AM #

      I think you’re right, there’s probably a chemical aspect ot it when there’s so much adrenalin in your life.

  4. Erik March 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM #

    It’s a great perspective. I’ve been on a lot of trips and, wether they are two weeks or two months, I always hit ‘the wall’. I’m currently going through a stretch where it will be two years between trips, and all I can think about is getting back out on the road. When dreaming about that, I almost always forget about days like the one you just had. When I have those days on the road, I usually waste a day. I sit and read, watch movies or TV shows on my laptop, and sleep a lot. I always make myself feel really guilty about it, but I know deep down it’s necessary to optimizing the rest of the trip.

    Just keep reminding yourself how lucky you are. Those of us who are travelers and can’t right now are counting on you!

    Safe Travels.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:43 AM #

      Back when I was waiting to travel I felt like every day WAS the wall.

      • Jason March 17, 2011 at 8:23 PM #

        I am living that wall right now. Having a career, mortgage and family, I get to travel sporadically. We just got back from 35 days in South East Asia (3rd time there – yeah) and I am already in funky mood waiting for the next opportunity to go. It’s a huge wall. Most of my non-traveling friends don’t understand while the travelers, they nod in agreement about how it sucks to not be traveling right then and there.

  5. Mike March 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM #

    Well said. I’m only four months in and I’ve experienced the same feelings. I know there’s awesome stuff out there, but sometimes I just don’t care. I’ll sit and think that I have to see everything in a city or experience certain things but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Like Erik, I like to waste a day. Exactly like he said, I’ll read or watch movies then feel guilty the next day but it’s worth it.

    I also do the travel comparison with other bloggers. For example, I read your Plain of Jars tweets and feel guilty for skipping them. I hate that I missed them, but it’s ok. One can’t see everything out there in the world.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:40 AM #

      Meanwhile I’m feeling guilty about skipping 4000 Islands. It’s just impossible to get around to everything isn’t it.

  6. Adventurous Kate March 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM #

    Stephanie, thank you for the mentions!

    As much as we have in common (and as fun times as we’ve had together!), I think I noticed how different our travel styles are when we posted about Hue on the same day and wrote totally different things about visiting the Citadel. I wish I had the patience to delve into the history like you did!

    As far as the subject of this piece goes, yes — anyone who claims to be having fun every minute of long-term travel, or even every day, is lying. That’s the reality of long-term travel, especially long-term solo travel, where loneliness plays a huge role. I was even sad on some days in Vang Vieng. And today, sometimes the happiest moments of my day are when I’m clicking away in a cafe with WiFi.

    But it always passes — always. And that’s when you know you’re living the right life for you at this moment.

    PS — “While I admire her energy” is NOT the new “Full Disclosure: I met Kate and liked her.” πŸ˜‰

    • Steph March 13, 2011 at 1:39 PM #

      Yeah, I think it’s so interesting- we are the same age, female, both solo travelers (well, sometimes for me), both visiting the same places. We’ve hung out and are clearly both awesome, yet we also have such different takeaways from everywhere we go. Maybe someday we can line all our posts up side by side as some sort of lesson on how everyone travels differently :).

  7. Thomas Aylmer March 13, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

    I definitely understand what you mean. It’s not my idea of fun to go out drinking with a bunch of strangers. I hardly drank at all on my trip. Plus, you do that in college, not when you traveling the world.

    I was only on the road for 3 weeks this summer and was pretty tired of it at the end. Maybe next year you could consider doing something like what Mike and I do now; it’s nice because it gives us the chance to explore the world while having work that keeps us focused.

    Look forward to hanging out with you and Mike in a few weeks.


  8. Dalene - Hecktic Travels March 13, 2011 at 1:18 PM #

    You are DEFINITELY not alone on this. Whenever I *hit that wall*, I’ve taken it as a signal to just slow the travel down and sit still for a week or two. So what if you don’t go out and “do what you’re supposed to”, like you said – it’s your time, and your life, dammitall! πŸ™‚

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:25 AM #

      Yup- one of the perks of travelling solo too, is that I’ve got nobody to answer to but me.

  9. Amanda March 13, 2011 at 1:38 PM #

    Thanks for such an honest post, Steph!

    I think a lot of people fail to realize (or just straight up don’t WANT to realize) that long-term travel doesn’t necessarily mean having grand adventures every second of every day. In fact, the longer you travel, the more the traveling becomes “the norm.” And in any normal routine, there are going to be off days and days when you just want to put on your grumpy pants and pout about something.

    Travel can’t always be fantastic, and posts like this are really important!

    At the end of the day, it should be about what YOU want to get out of your trip, not what others have already gotten out of theirs.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

      Thanks, I was torn because I love encouraging people to travel but I do want to show a balanced view of what it’s really like.

  10. mercedes March 13, 2011 at 2:33 PM #

    Thank you so much for posting this. I agree when you said a lot of travel bloggers gloss over the hard bits, and it really does make me question myself when I start to hate life on the road.

    I am not a traveller in the sense that you are right now. I am on a long term working holiday and London (and trying to get out into the rest of the UK whenever I can)! But I have to admit, it isn’t what I expected. It can be difficult, and lonely. I find I miss home much more than I even expected to–and I had always considered myself a fairly independent person! I have barely even been writing in my blog actually, because I am almost embarrassed to let the internet know that I am going through a rough patch.

    That being said, I admire your ability to put out honesty and vulnerability so much. You are someone I respect and admire so much as both a traveller and a blogger–it is unbelievably uplifting to hear that you feel sluggish, lonely, or unhappy on the road too!

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

      Thank you so much for the really kind words. I was hesitant to post this but I’m so glad I did, because obviously so many people go through the same thing.

      I also know where you are coming from, I did a working holiday in London as well! I think the winter is especially difficult there- it’s so dark all the time, it’s easy to feel kind of depressed. Don’t worry though, the spring does make it worth it.

  11. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures March 13, 2011 at 3:47 PM #

    Everyone goes through this when they travel, so please don’t feel as though you’re all alone!!! Sometimes you just need a day off. Whenever I feel like I’m having a moment I do something that’s really comforting like find the local Starbucks or go to the movies. πŸ™‚

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM #

      Thanks Andi! I am dying to go to the movies. Maybe when I get to Thailand.

      • Lisa | LLworldtour March 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM #

        I totally did that. I made a point to try and go to a movie about once a month (sometimes more). I loved that escape and treat. Once i saw “Paris J’taime” in Poland. SO it was in French with Polish subtitles! I didn’t get everything, but i loved that difference experience too! I did usually find English subtitles.

        Also, i grew to relax and feel okay about just being and even working in a cafe all day. I liked soaking up the atmosphere. It’s what i’m doing write now home in Chicago anyway…so it was nice to be ‘real’ somewhere foreign. The more I settled down and stayed in one place for a bit, the better i liked it and the more friends i made.

        Great discussion!

        • Steph March 16, 2011 at 9:46 PM #

          Yeah, I’ve been frequenting more cafes for days of working instead of holing up in my room. Feels slightly less shameful.

  12. Dave March 13, 2011 at 4:44 PM #

    I always enjoy reading posts like this, as I know that on any long term trip we’re all going to have down days. I felt much the same as you when I got to Luang Prabang last year, just burnt out and over it, so I stopped for a week and didn’t do much of anything for a few days. It was the best thing I could have done, both because at the end of that week I felt much more energised and ready to hit the road with excitement again, and also because it gave me a chance to get to know the people, their city and surrounds better than I otherwise would.

    I think as travel bloggers we sometimes get a little too hung up on selling the dream that we feel that we can’t mention the down days and crappy experiences that are all part of the experience. I’m glad that you did!

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:35 AM #

      Luang Prabang is a great stopping place too.

      I think you are right, as a travel blogger I feel that I should be “rah rah travel!” all the time, when really I should be portraying the many angles and feelings that come with longterm travel.

  13. alexis March 13, 2011 at 6:19 PM #

    Great post! And I agree that it is ok to have different travel styles! That is what makes this world so so fun!

  14. Chloe March 13, 2011 at 6:34 PM #

    Too true, and it’s great that you posted this, because there IS a misconception that every single second of your trip is supposed to be fun, and amazing. People forget that while you may be doing amazing things in amazing places, you’re still living life – one day at a time. Life has its low points, so does travel.

    I had this feeling in Toronto, and completely blew off my trip to Montreal because of it. Do I regret it? In many ways it would have been great to see Montreal, but I know that if I had gone, I wouldn’t have appreciated it at all because of the frame of mind I was in. I NEEDED that break, and I’m glad I took it.

    Great stuff πŸ™‚

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:17 AM #

      Yeah, I know not every moment can be awesome, but that is kind of hte impression you get from listening to other people isn’t it?

  15. Iain Mallory March 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM #

    Thanks for sharing, you are correct of course, everybody must go through such experiences on extended trips. I have not actually been on a trip for more than a few months, expeditions whilst still serving, but there were definitely periods of boredom, waiting for the weather to become suitable to continue with the expeditions aims.

    The main difference I think with short trips than extended ones are that you cannot just leave the problems of everyday life behind you. It is easy to forget what difficulties there are back home for a week or two but beyond that is is not possible. Everybody usually has problems with family. finances, friends to contend with and occasionally these will rear their ugly head.

    It is also common for many of us to feel as if we have left out when visiting a destination, there is usually I imagine even on an extended trip limited time and it is impossible to see/experience everything.

    As for not everybody liking the same destination, it would be pretty uninteresting if we did, there would not be any opposing views regarding anywhere to enable us to decide the best places to visit. We need opposing views to give us some decisons to make.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM #

      Thanks for sharing. I agree, we can’t escape everyday life and it’s problems, no matter how much we might want to.

  16. Connie March 14, 2011 at 2:29 AM #

    You shouldn’t feel bad that once in awhile, you get sick of the travel. I’ve been on the road for over two years now and I just moved into an apartment in Hong Kong and accepted a full time job because I grew a bit tired of traveling. It’s okay to have the occasion off-day. I know I certainly did! And when every day is constantly on the move and filled with daily challenges, you deserve to give yourself a break and veg out in your room, eating chocolates and blogging to your heart’s desire. I do that too whenever I need to. It helps recharge you.

    Personally, I don’t like going to those typical party spots and get pissed. THAT’s what you can do at home.

    Everybody’s a different traveler. And if you don’t feel like doing much one day, then don’t. The next day will be different.

    Don’t feel bad at all! You’re doing something amazing with your life. Sometimes it’s hard but that’s part of the experience. Take it one day at a time and do what you need to do for yourself.

    Also, I know what you mean about reading other blogs and starting to compare the experiences you read about and your own. I’m an Asian American traveling in Asia. I DID NOT have a good time in China. Why? Because everyone was very racist towards me. If a “typical” Westerner goes in and speaks incorrect Chinese, it’s okay because they were trying. If I go in doing the same, I’m ridiculed and mocked because I’m a disgrace to the Chinese race: I can’t even speak my own language. It doesn’t matter than I had the same exact upbringing as the “typical” Westerner. I started thinking something was wrong with me.

    But now I know that there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s just my own travel experience. We are all individuals and we’re all going to have different experiences. I’m glad you’re sharing yours.

    I’m sharing mine as well with a blog series called “Banana Split” on the experiences I have traveling in Asia as an Asian-American. I hope that it helps my readers understand that not all travel is the same.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:12 AM #

      Thanks so much for this AWESOME and insightful comment! I’m really interested to hear about your experiences traveling as an Asian-American. It’s something I’ve thought about a bit when witnessing the very different ways that white people and asians are treated in this part of the world. I could see things getting old real fast. Will check out your series!

  17. AdventureRob March 14, 2011 at 3:29 AM #

    I’m pretty sure it’s very human to go through this. People do mention it on blogs but it’s often conveniently ignored.

    I imagine Vang Vienne (which I loved when I was there) is a terrible place to be when you’re not in the mood.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

      Yeah, I imagine it’s super awesome though, when you ARE in the right mindset.

  18. Kevin March 14, 2011 at 7:18 AM #

    I can remember this happening to me in a few locations. The guilt is the worst part- wondering what is happening at home, or not feeling like you are living up to your dream.
    everyone has bad days, even on the road, it’s unavoidable. I like th honesty in which you approached the topic because travel blogging seems to be a grass is always greener outlook on life.

    • Steph March 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM #

      Thanks, I strive to present all the crazy ups and downs of this travel life.

  19. Claire March 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM #

    I feel as if there have beena few of this type of post floating around lately-one where the writer shares what works for them or what they hate/love, and gets lambasted for it because it doesn’t match with others’ expectations, or one in which the writer wonders what is wrong with them b/c they aren’t getting what all the fuss is about. My response is always the same-what makes you happy in travel does not make someone else happy in travel.
    Another thought-it’s ok to have bad days! The life you are living right now is awesome yes, but it’s still life. Life at home isn’t perfect every day, so life on the road won’t be either.
    It’s also ok to rant about it on your blog—makes you human!

  20. Natalie T. March 14, 2011 at 10:26 AM #

    I like that you were honest with this. Everyone has an off day. You’re also not going to like what everyone is “supposed to” like or what everyone raves about. Good, sincere post.

  21. Skott March 14, 2011 at 12:39 PM #

    We have yet to leave on our trip (coming soon – woo hoo!) but have no doubt that we will have days, where life isn’t that glamorous and we are bummed as well…this HAS to be the case….just because you are travelling, doesn’t mean every day is paradise. Whether your idea of living the dream is to own your own business, raise an amazing family, or travel the globe….bad days still happen…it is unrealistic for it to be any other way.

    If it is any consolation, from everything we have read about Vang Vieng, it isn’t high on our priority list either…ten years ago, probably… but hey if it doesn’t float your boat, just leave…or just spend a few days in your room eating chocolate croissants…how can that be a bad thing? πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your true feelings !

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 10:14 PM #

      they were REALLY good chocolate croissants.

  22. Keth March 14, 2011 at 5:39 PM #

    This happens to me on every trip. Usually rest and taking some pressure off myself to keep doing more and more things helps. Most travel blogs don’t talk about this because it’s their business to sell good times. I commend you for giving a well-rounded picture.

  23. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ March 14, 2011 at 7:59 PM #

    I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes you just need to chill out and have some alone time. I’m a very big supporter of partying and such. But I go weeks on the road where I don’t even want a beer. You get worn down, especially being away from home so long and moving from place to place. Don’t feel like you’re wasting time. Feel like you’re catching up on YOU time. πŸ™‚

  24. Mica March 14, 2011 at 9:49 PM #

    I am really feeling this post right now. I’m living in Cusco at the moment and have not found work yet. But still, I can’t complain to my friends because all I hear is “Are you bitching? Because I am sitting at my desk job every day reading about your adventures blah blah”.
    Some days when it gets really cold and rainy I get down. Glad to know there are others who also have off days.
    And I know sometimes when I go out here, the tourists are in full force at the clubs stumbling around piss drunk, and for the most part, annoying. And I know I chose to be here and travel and sometimes, I won’t have the patience for it.
    But I also know when I am walking around on the sunny days and I see the mountain views, i get excited, and then later on that night when I’m dancing on top of the bar, I still made the right choice to life my life traveling like I want to, and I am allowed to be a crab once in a while.
    I feel you. And I’m glad you still enjoyed yourself the way you wanted to.

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 10:13 PM #

      Yeah, I thin there are just up days and down days. Sometimes the exact same thing can trigger an up or a down, depending on your mood!

      Hang in there!

  25. Scott March 15, 2011 at 5:49 AM #

    The honesty here is as refreshing as the river in VV, lol! Thanks for always showing the highs and lows!

  26. Julia March 15, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

    This is a really good post, because I always find it refreshing to read about people’s genuine opinions and feelings when travelling. When you’re travelling for a long time you’re still ‘living’, that’s what a lot of people forget. It isn’t like just one long extended holiday, there will be times when you want to spend all day in your pjs or wallow in your own self pity because you drunk too much the night before. This is what you would do every now and then at home, so why would it be any different in your new temporary home? I totally see myself having ‘meh’ days when I go travelling long-term and will try not to beat myself up about it. And as for the questioning yourself about not liking a certain destination, i can totally relate to that. I suppose we’re all different and that’s what makes the world go round, but like you sometimes I can’t help questioning it anyway.

  27. Wandering Trader's Travels March 15, 2011 at 12:15 PM #

    I’m pretty sure that EVERYONE gets burnt out whether it’s with traveling or some other stuff (most likely related to work though, haha). Glad you realized that we all have different preferences when it comes to traveling! πŸ™‚

  28. ayngelina March 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM #

    Are you at the 6 month mark yet? I hit my first wall at 6 months when I entered Colombia, so down I thought I wanted to come home and then I ended up falling in love with the country.

    I still hit that wall every now and then including last week when I wrote how I hated the Irish and their stupid party hostels.

    I totally agree that it’s important for us to write about the sucky parts of travel, it’s not all bacon and unicorns!

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 10:09 PM #

      Correct! 6 months next week. I was expecting the burnout at 3 months and it never came so I guess I let my guard down. Good to know it’s natural.

      I wish my travels involved MORE bacon really.

  29. Lauren Quinn March 16, 2011 at 12:14 AM #

    Ah, I love a good honest (and vulnerable) post.

    VV sounds like my personal version of hell. God bless all the kids there doing their thing, but I’d probably hole up and write too.

    It’s funny how even when we travel we have these expectations of ourselves—how we should act and feel a certain way. That’s all it is: expectations. It’s still the hardest thing is the world for me to gentle with myself and give myself down time when I need it. It’s far easier to Push More, See More, Experience More, Write More…

    But so it goes… Thanks for the post.

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM #

      I think we covered this a lot in our conversation last night (awesome to meet you btw!). Expectations really do trip me up quite a bit sometimes. Have to keep reminding mysself it’s MY trip and it’s only a success if I say it is.

  30. Odysseus March 16, 2011 at 12:15 AM #

    It’s funny because I feel like “party towns” are usually the places that drag me down the most. Maybe it’s just part of my personality. I’m sure that lots of people find them enjoyable, but the loud enthusiasm and crowds at party towns somehow makes me go into my shell — and whatever it is I’m looking for — it’s not there.

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 10:01 PM #

      I have to agree-particularly when I’m travelling solo, I just find it impossible to get into the free-for-all mindset. I’m much happier in a big city or a picturesque town.

  31. Lauren Fritsky March 16, 2011 at 1:27 AM #

    Travel writer–such a funny term, when you think about. The travel part seems like the open, extroverted side, but as a writer, you have a need for introspection and being alone. It’s a wonder both can ever mesh. I have days like this, too, living the expat life and am having some of them this week. Even living the dream isn’t always a dream.

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 9:53 PM #

      That’s so true! I am definitely more of an introvert so while I appreciate the alone time of solo travel, sometimes it’ hard for me to get involved and I end up a bit lonely.

  32. Earl March 16, 2011 at 12:37 PM #

    You’re absolutely right, for long-term travelers this happens much more often than people care to admit.

    My travel funks usually take place whenever I am in a touristy destination as it’s natural to begin comparing your enthusiasm to that of everyone else around you. As a result, whenever I feel burnt out, I tend to jump on a bus or train and spend some time in a place where there are no other foreigners.

    When away from other travelers, I am reminded of why I am traveling long-term in the first place, which is to create and learn from my own unique adventure. Otherwise, it’s easy to start making decisions that you think you’re supposed to make instead of decisions that would actually benefit you and your travels.

    • Steph March 16, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

      This seems especially true when solo travelling- the urge to compare yourself to everyone else just gets more intense. Definitely worthwhile to escape and get centered.

  33. eurotrip tips March 16, 2011 at 12:42 PM #

    I really get your point. When I mention to people that I hated my trip to Paris, I get blank stares and disgust. Some pople just don’t understand that it’s not because some place is popular, or supposedly beautiful and fun that it automatically means YOU will love it.

    And yes, it’s okay to have off days where you feel you are at the wrong place. These days are essential in order to appreciate even more the great days.

    Hope you have fun on the rest of you trip.
    And don’t feel guilty about, well, feeling guilty. It’s okay to feel that way sometimes.

  34. Sasha March 20, 2011 at 6:58 AM #

    I get travel burnout really quickly, always about the two month mark. I get sick of meeting new people, I get sick of moving, I hype up a place and arrive only to find it’s a disappointment. Travel isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, really it feels like a full time job and then some it really can just drain your energy and your enthusiasm. That said I think just finding some place to settle for a bit, rest up and drive yourself to boredom is a good way to make travel seem amazing again!

    And yeah there are so many places one person might say is amazing and then you rock up and wonder what the big deal was. Some places for me is like watching Napoleon Dynamite, everyone told me “it’s such a great moving you so have to watch it!” I did and I didn’t think it was so great!

    • Steph March 20, 2011 at 7:05 AM #

      Good analogy- I actually didn’t “Get” Napoleon Dynamite at all eithr!

  35. Adam March 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM #


    I enjoy the off days just as much as those that aren’t.

    • Steph March 24, 2011 at 10:57 AM #

      I think being so busy makes you really treasure the off days.

  36. Offbeat Wanders March 23, 2011 at 5:39 PM #

    “You don’t want your trip to be a carbon copy of someone elses anyways. That’s the joy of travel: it’s in the unpredictable.”

    I couldn’t agree more! πŸ˜‰ I just came home from a backpacking trip in Taiwan and on my last few days, I ditched traveling with a few of the folks I’m with to go off the beaten. I like it that way that you can breathe from all the travel usuals and whatnot!


  37. Edger March 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

    I just got to Vang Vieng yesterday afternoon and proceeded to watch Valentines Day alone in my guest house while the guys I’ve been traveling with went out! I’m going to try the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach with tubing today though!

    • Steph March 24, 2011 at 9:24 AM #

      Aww, yeah then you know exactly where I’m coming from. I hope you did have fun once you got out there.

      • Edger April 9, 2011 at 5:52 AM #

        Turned out I had a great time tubing…twice even! I think I anticipated not liking Vang Vieng because I expected to be traveling alone and to be at least ten years older than most people there. But similar to you, since I meg up with some friends along the way and just went with it, it worked out.

        • Steph April 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM #

          Glad you liked it!

  38. Matt March 26, 2011 at 6:52 AM #

    While I may have “I Heart Travel” tattooed on my butt (I don’t really …), it’s absolutely impossible not to have days like you started this post with. Long term travel is anything but easy. Even when you’re not traveling (as I’m pseudo settled in NZ at the moment), you’re bound to have days – or certainly moments – when you question what it is you’re doing. I think that’s great though, and only adds to the experience in the long term. It isn’t always easy, yet it’s these challenges that ultimately shed more light on the positives. As for @AdventurousKate — mate, I feel you. Impossible to keep up with that chick. She can DRINK!

  39. Mike Cotton March 26, 2011 at 6:54 AM #

    I can certainly relate to this, hell, its seems like all the travel blogging world can relate to this.

    I found that travelling from one place to another doesn’t allow you to lay down any roots.

    For me the best part of travelling is actually not travelling but experinceing life in a new town, on a new mountain, a new beach etc. Laying down roots in a new place allows you to feel part of a community and live as if you were a ‘local’,

  40. Sophie March 28, 2011 at 11:01 PM #

    I love your blog. You are so honest and real!
    Good luck, keep going!

  41. katja May 16, 2011 at 3:42 PM #

    haha, I LOVE YOU! i thnk you and me would be good friends in real life.

    yey to pity parties

    • Steph May 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM #


  42. Leslie Forman June 29, 2011 at 2:19 AM #

    I took a photo of my feet while tubing in Vang Vieng too! But I was wearing red toenail polish.

    I can totally relate to this. I actually just wrote a long letter to China describing our rocky, but loving relationship, which I just decided to end (for now, anyways…)

    Keep up the good work. You’re awesome.

  43. Beverley June 30, 2011 at 2:46 AM #

    I can completely relate to this!

    Right now I’m 12 months into my travels; currently in Melbourne.

    I saved up for my trip here but knew that I also wanted to work when I got here. I’ve been really lucky to find some fantastic jobs, and I should really count myself lucky that I found good jobs which have helped me fund my travels when I’m not working and I should feel lucky that I have the opportunity to travel when so many other people don’t have the same opportunity but sometimes……I lose my passion for it.

    Which sounds TERRIBLE. I write a travel blog so, what, I don’t like to travel anymore?! That’s silly!

    It’s nice to know that someone else feels the same. Glad to hear that you ended up finishing your day on a good note!

    Happy traveling


    • Steph July 12, 2011 at 9:26 PM #

      I think that over the course of a year it’s just impossible to be psyched ALL the time. It’s totally normal.

  44. Chelsea February 18, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

    Oh my goodness! This post really helped me because I’ve been feeling this grumbly “I am so *&^ing sick of living out of a suitcase” feeling these last few days, and this was great to read.

    As for Vang Vieng, I found it a little isolating myself; anywhere with millions of Australians and Brits drinking booze by the bucket (literally) and seeming to want to get as drunk as humanly possible really makes me want to stay in my room. But I’m glad you made it out on the river!

  45. Desiree August 15, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

    I recently came across your travel blog and am hooked. Thank you for this honest entry Steph:)

  46. Steph September 27, 2012 at 12:50 AM #

    Thank you so much for this post! I have just started working for a year as a volunteer in Da Nang, Vietnam and have been feeling really down about the whole thing and just wanting to go home. It is really good to hear that other people out there have crappy times as well it is a refreshing and reassuring change from the travel is awesome all the time style of blogs. Your post has really helped me put that smile back on my face and remember why I came here and all the amazing things I plan to do over the year. Thank you reading this post has really made a difference in my day πŸ™‚

    • Steph September 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM #

      Your comment made my day! Happy that I could help out. Hang in there, it does get better eventually.

  47. Annapurna Mellor December 1, 2013 at 2:34 AM #

    Thank you for re-posting this on Twitter! I’ve been travelling solo for four months now and totally understand how you feel. Solo travel can be extremely rewarding, you learn so much about yourself and the world. Yet I also have down days, and miss the comforts of people who know me.

    Today I’m having a day writing, editing photos and watching crappy films in my hotel room. It’s days like these which refresh me and implant the spirit in me to continue travelling.

  48. Jenbetweendots February 18, 2014 at 1:07 PM #

    Hey there! I just randomly found your blog and have been reading a few posts that interest me. I travelled solo through Central America for a year and then taught English and travelled in Eastern Europe for 6 months before coming back home to Canada. I think it was around the 6 months in that I started to have the ‘blah’ days too. I can recall more than 1 or 2 days sitting in my room watching movies and eating chocolate. You know, we do these things at home so why not do them on the road?
    Also, for others who are maybe thinking of doing something like this – I find the change of people every few days is what becomes hard. After a few months of travelling I found a host family to live with in exchange for volunteering at the local eco-center. I had 3 meals a day and my own room and taught English classes Monday-Thursday evenings. It was a fantastic way to feel at ‘home’ in my new country and I still had long weekends and holidays to travel around. I’d highly recommend something like this if you’re feeling a little lost.

Leave a Reply