Jan 28, 2011

The Importance of Down Time in a Long Trip

Take some time out to relax like I did here in Norway, it can make a world of difference on your trip

As wonderful as it is to cram in as many cities as possible (2 nights Paris, then 2 nights Rome, then dash to Vienna for a night etc etc…) you will burn out if it’s a long trip. Sure if you only have a few weeks overseas then go nuts. But for longer trips don’t underestimate the power of rest and downtime.

I learned this the hard way after completely burning out at the 2 month mark of a long trip – I actually nearly came home! I made the mistake of over planning my trip and was literally in a different place every few days, either sightseeing or getting from A to B. I was then a travel agent with the time and resources at my finger tips to plan the biggest, bestest and (as it turns out) the most exhausting trip ever. Don’t get me wrong, I had the most amazing time. Months exploring through Scandinavia, Iceland and Eastern Europe still remains one of my best holidays to date. But I distinctly remember the feeling I got when I arrived at roughly the 2 month mark. I was exhausted. I was sick of living out of a suitcase, I was sick of being on the move, I was sick of sightseeing. I was even sick of churches! I came so close to canceling the remainder of the trip with the intent to do it some other time.

But I pushed through. Instead of spending the next few days exploring Frankfurt I had some down time. I slept in, I washed all my clothes (in a proper washing machine! Not in the bath with bar soap!) I watched TV and I RELAXED. Sure I felt guilty about potentially missing out on all the wonderful sights and experiences Frankfurt had to offer but I knew I’d regret it more if I threw in the towel and went home. After my few days of “me” time I got back my travel mojo and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of the trip.
From this experience I now know:

♥ Always schedule in downtime on a trip longer than 2 weeks. Even if it’s only a day.

♥ Don’t over plan. You should have seen my schedule, every day had notes scribbled on all the things I plan on doing. There was no room for getting sick or just feeling like some down time. It was strictly regimented. Remember this is a holiday! Do you really want to wake up at 6am every day?

♥ Know your limits and personal preferences – Is a 6 month solo voyage really suitable for you considering you are shy when meeting strangers and are prone to homesickness? Or is your idea of a holiday less of culture and churches and more of relaxing on a beach with a cocktail in one hand and good book in the other? Tailor it to suit YOUR wants and needs.

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