Traveling to new and exciting places should be thrilling, not draining. Yet the long days of sightseeing, lost sleep, and constant changes in routine can leave you utterly exhausted. As someone who loves seeing the world but used to end each trip desperately needing a vacation after my vacation, I’ve learned ways to minimize travel fatigue.
Follow these tips to keep your energy up and prevent debilitating exhaustion so you can fully enjoy every second of your travels, near and far.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Our bodies thrive on routine, especially when it comes to sleep. Abruptly changing time zones or sleeping in a new place every few nights disrupts your natural circadian rhythms. Try your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule, no matter where you are. Go to bed and wake up at your usual times based on the current time zone. Draw the blinds to block out unfamiliar light and bring earplugs to maintain your sleep environment.
Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. When visiting warm climates, we often mistakenly think thirst indicates we need water. By then, dehydration had already begun. Drink water continuously throughout the day, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Carry a refillable water bottle for easy access. Choose water over sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks, which can disrupt sleep. Properly hydrating will keep your mind and body alert.
Attempt to alternate between higher-intensity and lower-intensity activities when planning days full of sightseeing. For example, follow up an active walking tour in the morning with a more leisurely museum visit in the afternoon. Mixing up energy levels prevents you from overexerting yourself all day long. Also, build in down time to nap or lounge when needed. Know your limits, and don’t feel pressured to power through exhaustion.
Eat Nutritious Foods
When traveling, it’s tempting to indulge in delicious local cuisine. However, a diet high in fat, sugar, carbs, and salt can quickly zap your energy. Be selective when eating out and stick to nourishing foods like salads, grilled meats, and fresh fruits and veggies. Snack on trail mix and nuts versus junk food for an energy boost between meals. If you have dietary restrictions, research restaurant options in advance so you always have healthy choices.
Lugging around heavy suitcases and keeping track of multiple bags drains your energy as you navigate airports and train stations. Minimize baggage by packing light essentials in a carry-on and personal item. This allows you to quickly move between destinations without wasting strength and focus wrangling bags. If you need to check a bag, look into airport luggage delivery services so you don’t have to pick up bags on arrival. Traveling light equals traveling lively!
Rest When Needed
Don’t power through a vacation when your body is pleading for rest; listen to it! Building in time to sleep in, take a midday nap, or lounge poolside gives your body the recovery it requires. Adjust activities as needed to accommodate proper rest. Don’t worry about FOMO (fear of missing out); you’ll end up seeing and doing more if you balance rest with sightseeing. Slowing down prevents your trip from becoming completely exhausting.
Avoid Long Drives
Lengthy road trips after jet lag and a long flight can intensify fatigue. Avoid driving for hours on end when possible. Book hotels near city centers and major attractions so you can take advantage of public transportation like trains, subways, and buses. If renting a car, limit drives to under an hour at a time. Stop to stretch your legs, eat a snack, and refocus. Letting someone else do the driving is ideal for conserving energy.
Set Realistic Expectations
Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves to experience everything, which inevitably leads to exhaustion. Have realistic expectations when planning a trip based on your personal travel style and energy level. Don’t overschedule yourself or feel pressured to stay out late if you’re someone who prefers moderate activities and retiring early. Not every second of every day needs to be jam-packed. Build in flex time to adapt plans based on how your body feels.
Arriving at your destination feeling jet-lagged can set the tone for an overly exhausting trip. Minimize jet lag by shifting your bedtime and waketime closer to the new time zone a few days before the trip. Avoid heavy foods and alcohol, and stay hydrated on the flight. If possible, schedule an overnight flight and sleep when it’s nighttime at your destination. Upon arrival, avoid bright light in the morning and get sunlight exposure later in the day to get your circadian rhythms synced faster.
Travel exhaustion is common but avoidable with smart preparation and trip planning. Listen when your body needs extra rest, fuel up on nutritious foods and water, and balance stimulating and subdued activities. Travel at your own pace and put your physical needs first. Tuning in and preventing exhaustion means you’ll return home not only enlightened but energized from your amazing journey.
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