The Dark Side Of A Life Of Travel

20/03/2017 15:41

Here's me snorkelling with turtles in Mexico. Remember when I hiked a volcano in Nicaragua? What about the bear we spotted in Yosemite? I could go on. This is a flavour of my life. It's a life many people are envious of. I'm a travel blogger and I've been travelling the world almost non-stop for the last two years. 

With this unconventional career comes a life of clichés. I've 'found' myself... several times in fact. I've learned to appreciate those 'little things', and a few big ones too. I've had more life changing experiences in the past two years than the previous 29 put together. It's been crazy, beautiful and unpredictable. But, just as you probably don't brag about your company bonuses and pay rises, I'm not here to gloat either.

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Chloe Gunning from Wanderlust Chloe

In fact, it turns out there's an elephant in the room. The often-unaddressed dark side to this exhilarating life of travel. This elephant is energy sapping and challenging. Meet my worst enemy: travel burnout.

How do you contract it? For me it was after jetting off on 36 flights to visit 15 countries in the space of nine months. A month in South America, two weeks in the Caribbean, a road trip through California, short trips to Sweden, Finland, Germany, Cyprus and plenty more. In between there was a mad rush to get content online, have meetings, plan campaigns, do washing and jet off again.

After a while it got too much. I barely unpacked, saw my friends and family or slept. I craved duvet days, but then felt guilty for not replying to emails, posting on social media and updating my blog. I am SO grateful for the opportunities and enjoy so much of it, but I can't deny this job, like any other, has its challenges.

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Chloe Gunning from Wanderlust Chloe

I'm not the only one struggling. Travel vlogger Hey Nadine describes travel burnout as "this tiredness you can't explain. Like, the motions of doing anything above and beyond at a destination aren't appealing anymore and socialising hits an all time low."

Emily Luxton spent more time abroad than at home last year. "I remember writing a blog and couldn't think where I'd been or what I'd done. I've preached on my blog that there's no point in travelling if you're going too fast to actually make memories, so I suddenly felt like a hypocrite."

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Emily Luxton and xAmeliax

I found travel burnout to be both mentally and physically challenging. Once home, I struggled to feel the highs I felt while travelling. My motivation levels dropped. For me, everyday excitements were climbing volcanoes, snorkelling with exotic sea creatures and learning about interesting cultures. Life tended to be fast-paced and action-packed.

Travel burnout took vlogger xAmeliax by surprise. "My body collapsed after my final trip. I got so poorly and I just couldn't face even the simplest of everyday tasks. I needed to put my health first."

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Chloe Gunning from Wanderlust Chloe

So, is there a cure? Or are even the pro-travellers still searching for the answer?

I find the only answer is to go back to basics. I catch up with friends and family, and appreciate what I've done and what's on my doorstep.

Nadine is similar. "I go home and spend time doing normal people stuff, like playing with cats, hanging with friends, watching TV, going to the gym. Nothing but time can take that feeling away."

Emily Luxton reset by spending most of last summer at home - something that helped her get her mojo back. Meanwhile xAmeliax stepped out of the limelight for a while. "I put out an honest letter to say why I was taking a break - you'd be surprised at just how understanding people were."

For Jon Miller (Adventure In You) the travel bug has taken such a grip that he's opted for the digital nomad life in Chiang Mai. He resets by disappearing to somewhere quiet. "I'll read a book, sit in a hammock and reset my brain. After a few days I'm itching to get back out there to find more adventures."

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Jon Miller from Adventure In You

None of us have found a cure, but we've learned tricks to make things easier. Macca Sherifi from A Brit and a Broad says he only took around 10 days off last year. This year's plan? "Take fewer trips and focus on the bigger projects."

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Macca Sherifi from A Brit and a Broad

And me? I'm grateful to call the world my office! I still get a buzz from travelling and love sharing my adventures, from street food and culture, to hilarious chats with locals and seeing the planet's natural wonders. But as with any job, I've learned I need to make some time for myself. While there may be a dark side, I know the future is still bright!

Chloe Gunning blogs about her travels at Wanderlust Chloe. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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