Tired of seeing once in a lifetime sights? Yes, travel burnout a real thing! I first experienced it in Russia in 1988. When all you do every day is see amazing churches, wonderful palaces, fabulous museums, it can all blur together, much quicker than you might imagine.
It can happen when you see epic scenery, day after day. When you ski every day. When you scuba dive every day.
Fear of missing out is a real thing. I think it’s what started the whirlwind of 16 cities in 14 days European tours. But what you really miss is enjoying what you see? If you only spend 15 minutes at Westminster Abbey, you’ll miss 99% of it. The line will be your most vivid memory.
I recommend, strongly recommend, not over-scheduling your time. For a week-long vacation (tours, ski, scuba, golf, hiking, etc) plan for one zero day where you go to a spa, check out a library, go to the movies, sleep in, have a long, boozy lunch, take a cooking class, Netflix and chill or sit and watch people go by. This is called a Zero Day in hiking. I should have planned a zero day in my Dolomites hike trip, even though it was only a 5-day trip.
Picking Your Down Day
Check to see if there’s a day when things are closed. In Europe, many museums are closed on Monday or Tuesday so that can be a good day to do something totally different. Check the weather forecast. Rain could ruin a ski or golf trip, but makes for a good museum day. If you can, I recommend your down day to be in the middle of the trip. It’s a good time to catch up on your journaling, blogging, sleeping, laundry, or postcards. Memories are freshest and don’t get blurred into other parts of your trip.
Most people aren’t used to walking for 6-14 hours a day. It doesn’t matter if you’re an urban tourist touring Firenze, Italy or a hiker taking in the wonders of Zion Canyon. I’ve registered 27,000+ steps in Firenze and 40,000+ steps in Zion in a day and trust me, you’re tired either way. This applies to skiing every day or diving or golfing too. If you’re in a place with good bandwidth, it’s a great time to chat or stream or see the Stanley Cup! (Totally worth the 4 hours in line!) Learn to love the zero day!
Longer Trips Have Even Higher Probability of Burnout
A month in Europe sounds like a dream vacation to most people. It’s great if you have the time and money to take a month to tour Europe! Take advantage of it. For a long time, I resented that most museums and activities were only open from 9-5 or 10-6. Sometimes I still resent it, because I’m both an early morning and a late night person. Especially in summer when the sun doesn’t set until 8 or 9, even 10 or 11 in Scandinavia, it can seem like you have a lot of time with no activities. I have to remind myself, to take a walk or have a coffee in café and watch people or have a glass of wine and plot the next move.
After decades (yup decades) of traveling, I prefer 3-4 day trips, lots of them, but no more than three in a row, preferably not more than two. In 3-4 days you can really see a city. It’s still possible to over schedule 3-4 days. Two museums per day, three max. Same for activities, three max. You might go back to work needing a vacation from your vacation! 😉 I’m currently burned out after my seventh trip in 8 weeks. And eager to write up all my recent adventures!