Traveling is wonderful for many reasons, especially because it equips you with perspective and insight that previously wasn’t there.
Of course, that’s pretty much how life rolls: you live and learn.
But something that particularly stood out to me after reflecting on trips I’ve taken so far is the toll traveling takes emotionally. Physical, mental, and financial strain are all expected, but does anyone new actually expect emotional fatigue?
A traveler I met briefly during my visit to Calgary said, “Traveling isn’t really just about the places you visit – it’s about the people you meet,” and I slowly realized the validity of his point: the sights, cuisine, and history of places around the world are unquestionably interesting and define those areas. However, it’s people you encounter along the way that color your experiences there.
How exactly is traveling emotionally tiring?
I think the feeling is more noticeable during trips where you spend two to three days per city, one after the other, after the other. Basically, this is how the process goes:
– Settle into hostel
– Make new friends
– Talk to new friends for hours on end
– Explore the city with new friends
– (If you prefer to explore solo, then you meet with these friends at the end of the day share a meal, and/or go out for drinks [if you drink])
– Hang out with friends all day
– Hang out with friends all day (again)
– Celebrate your last day/night in the city by spending more time together over drinks/food
– You and your new friends check out of the hostel
– Say goodbyes and part ways
– Arrive and settle into new hostel
– You’re kind of missing the people you met, the ones with whom you spent nearly every waking minute, but there’s no time to dwell on that! Why? Because,
– you gotta make new friends so you can make the most out the few days you’re spending in this new city!
Days following doomsday
– Repeat activities listed in Days 2 and 3
And for the rest of the time you’re on the non-stop move to cities for three days each, it’s important to soak up what each place has to offer to the fullest extent, because when are you going to come back again? So it’s not the best use of time to wallow in feelings of longing and revisiting the fun times had with the people in the last city. Plus, there are new memories to be made moving forward.
But eventually those feelings surface and make themselves known because they build up and aren’t absorbed and accepted in a timely fashion. One day (hopefully once the trip is over), emotional fatigue takes the reigns and dwelling and reflecting happens. (In some ways, this reminds me of how hopping from one romantic relationship to another without taking time to fully grasp and accept that one [or more] ended eventually catches up: the loose ends have to be dealt with at some point.)
This situation isn’t limited to city hopping traveling, but at least with longer-term visits, there’s more time to come to terms with leaving new faces behind.
In the end, though, I think going through these sorts of circumstances is a sign that a person is successfully living their life.
After all, what’s life without such experiences and feelings?