Vacations are supposed to be relaxing.
February 27, 2007 11:25 PM   Subscribe

Travel anxiety. I've been travelling for a week or so now, and I thought I wanted to be here. Now that I am though, all I can think about is the number of days till I go home.

At night, all I wanna do is get together with my laptop and just surf the net for a bit, when my hostel-mates go out. Makes me feel a little guilty. Has anyone experienced similar feelings? Is there a way to alleviate this weird stress?
posted by aeighty to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One of the things they don't tell you about travel is that it can be physically draining. This is especially true of city travelling in hostels where you don't get as much chance to sleep and relax, you spend all day sightseeing (rather than, say, lying on a beach), and you are surrounded by a party atmosphere. You may feel pressure to maximize the number of sights you see and adventures you have in order to get the most out of your experience. This is like trying to eat from every platter at a buffet - you can only take so much.

Remember that it is your vacation and you can do whatever you want to do. You want to sleep? Sleep. You want to surf the net? Surf the net. You feel like having ice cream? Have some ice cream! Listen to yourself. Also, you need at least one day a week where you don't see any sights - no museums, no art galleries, no churches - and no laundry or postcards or other stressful stuff either - just relax. Escape to a small town for these days if you can, especially if there is a beach near by, but even in the city there are parks and cafes where you can just let the hours drift by.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:52 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

How long do you plan on staying where you are?

Everyone needs a bit of downtime. Whenever I go somewhere new, one of the first things that I think of is leaving. I don't know, maybe I'm uncomfortable being placed into a new environment quickly. One of the best things things I can suggest (depending on the length of your stay) is to take your downtime, surf the net and just relax. After a [hopefully short] while you'll adjust to the idea and you'll be hoping for your days not to end.

Of course, it really depends where you are. I remember having to go to Utah for a week and a half to visit family once, that was no picnic.
posted by 913 at 11:55 PM on February 27, 2007

P.S. I sort of assumed the Euro backpacker trip since that's what everyone does. Now I looked at your question history and saw that you were planning a month-long US road trip, which is considerably different. Oh well, I think the message is roughly the same.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:57 PM on February 27, 2007

You didn't mention a pet. Do you have one?
posted by sourwookie at 12:03 AM on February 28, 2007

I've had the same problem on several trips, and, just to up the difficulty a little bit, I don't find relaxing while on the trip to be refreshing in the same way relaxing and recharging at home is. I don't know why this is -- maybe aeighty and I are highly conditioned towards home being relaxing -- but I'd like to know how to make relaxing while away as recharging as relaxing back home.
posted by ontic at 12:05 AM on February 28, 2007

I just got back from two months overseas, and have done several long trips before as well. Every time, at one point or another, there are periods when I've been tired of the travelling life and just want to go back home. It's hard work, being away from everything you know and being alone (are you alone?) in a strange place. What I do is remind myself of why I left (why did you leave?) and that I have the opportunity to do such new and wonderful things wherever I am.

It's not bad to feel this way, it's an almost essential part of it all. The good times that will come your way in a few days or next week will be even better because of the contrast to this down time.
posted by twirlypen at 12:05 AM on February 28, 2007

but I'd like to know how to make relaxing while away as recharging as relaxing back home.

Remove the distinction. Do whatever you need to do to make your temporary environment home for a bit.

For the OP: I feel like you all the time when I'm on the road. I'd say I get in one hour of touristing for every two hours I spend reading a book or surfing the web. I still end up feeling out of whack sometimes, at which point I just hole up and read/surf for as long as it takes.

Fortunately, these days I have both the time and money to travel like this. At an earlier point in my life my trips were by necessity very short (a couple weeks at most), so I just tried to keep going with no breaks. I got quite sick quite often trying to do that....
posted by tkolar at 12:47 AM on February 28, 2007

I love to travel but the night before any trip, I go crazy with anxiety about leaving home, the cats, safety, comfort, all the things that tie you down. Once the trip is underway, I make a conscious decision that I'm going to have fun and live in the moment. One of the things I love about travel is how intense everything is and how you're forced to make so many decisions. And that's one of the things that makes travel such an amazing experience for me. Even when bad things happen, as they sometimes do, it's part of the experience that will later become part of the story. I wish you happy travels. You'll be home soon enough. The other-placeness eases when you are able to pay keen attention to your immediate situation. And ultimately, travel makes you appreciate your own home. (Don't misunderstand... I love the internet while traveling!)
posted by lois1950 at 12:54 AM on February 28, 2007

I agree with the above posts. When travelling, especially after getting to a new place and after exploring a bit, I often just hole up somewhere quiet and comfortable and spend a few days reading books. I enjoy it - there's nothing I really need to do, so I can just relax. This is one of the reasons I hate having time restrictions when travelling - if I only have two weeks, then I feel pressure to fit in as much "experience" as I can. If my time is relatively unlimited, that pressure eases and I can just do whatever I feel like - which might be absolutely nothing.

Also, certainly when I first travelled alone, I spent the first week in a foreign country thinking I had made a terrible mistake and just wanting to go home. That went away once I got used to being in a foreign environment, and then I really started enjoying myself.
posted by Emanuel at 12:56 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys, I appreciate the advice. I'm currently in Europe, on my own without any concrete plans due to various misadventures.. I keep forgetting that back home I have a day or two out of the week to relax and chill out.. For this week and a half that I"ve been travelling I've been doing nothing but moving around constantly. My body isn't tired, but my mind is. I think I'm going to take your advice and spend most of the day relaxing. Thanks!
posted by aeighty at 1:36 AM on February 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I experience this all the time. I suspect the reason you are going on your laptop is because you're feeling disconnected. It might help if you focus more on interacting with people rather than seeing the sights. It's very common for people in your hostel to have very different interests than you, but you might be able to find groups in the area where you're traveling that share your interests. This is where the Internet is your friend. If you're a huge anime fan, there may be a club in the town you're visiting. If theater is more your thing, see if there's a local community theater and go over and volunteer to help bang together a set or something. I find when you are doing something fun and familiar you feel a lot less lonely and isolated.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:10 AM on February 28, 2007

It really is important to make time to relax. When I went to Greece, as eager as I was to see everything, I scheduled several days in Khania at the start of the trip; it's a beautiful little town on the north shore of Crete where there's pretty much nothing to see except the sea and a few old Venetian walls, so you just sit at cafe tables and eat your goat cheese and yogurt and drink your retsina and get acclimatized. By the time I got to the Acropolis, Delphi, etc., I was raring to go and able to appreciate it all.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on February 28, 2007

I try to be a "regular" someplace for the week or two or three days that I might be in a town. There's something about having a bartender or barista or waitress recognize you that restores the feeling of "person-ness" that can be taken from you when traveling in a new place.

There's also nothing wrong with not wanting to go out at night. If you are a homebody at home you'll be a homebody on the road. I'd suggest pushing yourself to go out once just to broaden your horizons and maybe bond with some of the folks at the hostel a bit. But you are still you.
posted by Mozzie at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2007

I traveled on my own for 6 weeks through the Middle East some years ago. And indeed, it was much more draining than I ever expected. I agree with the others above about spending more time relaxing and not killing yourself seeing sights. But also, I'd advise you to get out of the big cities, and take a train to a smaller town that is more off the map with less to do. Big cities the world over are all about the same. To really get a better flavor of a country, go to a smaller town or village and just chill there for a couple days. It will recharge you. Go sit in a cafe and drink coffee all day. Write in a journal. People-watch. Soak it in and relax. Be thankful to be where you are. When you get back home, everything will be the same as when you left, so try to enjoy your trip while you are on it. I remember sitting in a restaurant one Sunday evening in Brugge, Belgium, enjoying a cup of tea by myself thinking, "the rest of the world has to get up and go to work tomorrow. I'm going to go bike around the canals." And that made me very thankful to be where I was.
posted by nomad73 at 9:36 AM on February 28, 2007

If you have a little spending money left over, maybe getting your own hotel room for a night would help. I do horribly when I stay with friends... I really need my alone time to relax and do my own thing... having to be "always-on" stresses me out after a couple of days. I imagine a hostel would be like that for me too.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2007

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