How to Overcome the Travel Blues

No not Sunday blues or Monday blues.

We’ve all felt slightly depressed when another week of the daily groundhog arrives. We spend those hours of dread dreaming of a life hitchhiking from Mediterranean sunset to wildebeest chasing on the Serengeti plains.

How could travel ever be an adjective for the blues?

The travel blues is a reality of long-term travel, possibly even short-term if you arrive at your beach bungalow for your annual vacation and the cockroaches have moved in with you to escape the impending monsoon.

Travel is not always the glamour that your Facebook or Instagram feed depicts.

Sometimes, instead of running barefoot along the soft powdery sand of another stunning Australian beach, you find yourself staring wistfully into the horizon wishing that you were back in a house living a normal life.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Pinky Beach, Rottnest Island, WA

What is wrong with me? You’ll berate yourself over and over again. I’m living this amazing life of adventure, fun and freedom, yet I feel a little dead inside. I just can’t seem to understand what it’s all for anymore.

You’re supposed to be living the dream and you know by the “jealous” comments replying to another of your Facebook updates, that most people want to be you. You struggle to hide the fact that you want to swap places for a while.

When long-term travel becomes the norm

Long-term travel becomes a lifestyle. The norm is to get tired of the norm.

It’s bizarre to think snorkeling with manta rays, nightly sunset barbies, and cafe bumming can all become a little ho hum.

When you’d rather sit in the car and write a list of what my life will look like when I have a house, you know the sacrifices of a life of travel are too much to bear.

If you’re not finding value in your adventures, then its time to consider a change.

Like I am now. An end to the adventure. A couch of my own I can curl up on for a afternoon of channel surfing before going to the corner cafe where everyone knows my name. It’s been that bad, I’ve even contemplated going back to a job!

I don’t need to go back to a job, but I”m craving it because it’s easy and certain.

Like a marathon runner who has hit the last couple of kms, I’m struggling to finish our Australian road trip. I don’t feel there is any point to making the sacrifices if my heart is not in it.

I want to speak the truth, keep it real, so you can be prepared when the blues hit you.

How to overcome the travel blues

Have a good old WHINGE (or whine for our American friends)

If this post was via pen and paper, the wastebasket would be overflowing and the paper scratched up with nasty red ink. Writing the first and second draft felt good because I was having a good old sooky la la whinge.

Nothing feels better than that right?

A whinge is necessary to clear a path for acceptance and honest reflection. But, there is the danger of continuing the whinge and doing nothing else. Letting your mind focus on hosting a self-pity party won’t help you see a clear exit out of the mire.

A whinge is allowed if you intend to do something to change your situation into something better.

Rest

Exhaustion makes everything muddy.

Stop the travel. Find a place that will offer you a chance to recover, regain your strength and find the clarity you seek. Even if it is just for a couple of days.

No more exploring. No more socializing. Just swing in a hammock and let the wind blow away all the anxiety, stress and unhappiness. Once you’ve found your happy peace, you can uncover the issues and discover what your heart wants you to do.

After 16 months of this fast-paced travel life with kids, my body was slipping into exhaustion. It was made worse by our two-week, intense side trip to the White House. I hadn’t quite gotten over my arrival jet lag before getting whammied with the return one.

The day after we flew in, we made the silly decision to cycle around Rottnest Island in gale force winds and then slipped right into silly season and completely amped up our socializing.

No wonder I felt so bad. On January 4th, I slammed on the brakes to take it easy down in Margaret River and figure out what else was causing these blues.

slowing down in Margaret River
slowing down in Margaret River

Assess the blues

It’s time to assess what’s causing the travel blues so you know whether you need to change direction, or stop for good.

How are you feeling? What’s at the root cause of the blues?

You cannot change what you aren’t aware of. Once I identified why I was suddenly getting irritated by travel, I could work on finding solutions.

The exhaustion of balancing

I’m tired of trying to balance all aspects of my life: health, family, business, travel, and other interests I wanted to express.

We travel full-time. We’re with our two beautiful, but highly energetic daughters full-time, we home-school Kalyra full-time, and our business is full-time. That is a lot of full-time to manage.

If this is how the future looks for your travel, I highly recommend you seek another path. It’s not the ultimate.

Long-term travel is. Digital nomad lifestyle is. Traveling with your children is. Road tripping around Australia is. But combining them all is NOT.

A lack of routine and stability

Living out of a camper trailer is  starting to wear thin. I’m craving my own home with space and a place for all my things – a little bit of security and stability for all of us.

It’s very difficult for us to get into a routine, which is having an impact upon my health, and I think a routine would make parenting a little easier.

Too expensive

Australia is so big to explore and so bloody expensive; it’s starting to annoy me just how much it costs and I’m realizing how much further our money could go if we were elsewhere.

It’s becoming more of a priority to be smarter with our money to provide a more secure future.

Relationships

I’m going a little cuckoo living with the kids and Craig 24/7. Long-term travel with a partner or children can be draining and you have to be careful the whole 24/7 thing doesn’t tear you apart.

All the facets of our life: marriage, family, business, hobbies are all rolled into one. I want to separate them a little so I can be more in touch with the individual identity of each one.

The constant worry and guilt as to whether this is the best thing for the girls is killing me too. Damn you Mother’s Guilt!

Read More: Was our full time RV trip of the US worth it?

Managing a business on the road

I’ve never worked a calling or a passion before; I worked a job I hated, or I lived in circumstances I hated, so running away from that to a life of travel made so much sense.

I was the girl who believed sick days were there to be taken. Now I have my own business I love, I get annoyed by public holidays!

We have so many brilliant ideas for this blog, but our excitement quickly diminishes when we realize we can’t.

We just don’t have the time, the structure, and the certainty.

I’m completely stuck in my ability to learn, create, manage, and grow. It’s too hard to do it with the kids and the travel. The worry of what’s going to happen to our income if we can’t get the work done is starting to weigh heavily.

(And don’t get me started on the shitty internet)

All of these issues marinated in a healthy dose of guilt in my head. Guilt for feeling this way, for wanting to turn my back on this amazing life, and for not being the best I could be for myself and others.

What’s causing your travel blues? Is it exhaustion, loneliness, or a lack of money? Are you tired of living out of a backpack and not having the stability of a home? Go inside and figure it out.

Is there anything deeper you find jumping out? Any other themes or issues you need to deal with?

Sometimes when we assess the blues we only find the surface level stuff that can easily be fixed: I’m tired. I miss my friends. I want a steady income.

It’s the deeper stuff we need to be aware of, otherwise, it will find a way to make you pay attention until you learn the lesson.

Uncertainty

My balancing act is made worse by not having a solid base to throw the balls from; I juggle from on top of a ball called uncertainty. The unknowing, leads to instability, which brings about a lot of fear.

Even when I want to plan, I generally can’t.

Like at this moment, I want to make decisions for the next year, no scrap that, for the next month, but I can’t make a decision until I hear back from that person, and that other person. The world moves slow, and I wait and wait and wait, with tightened inner knots. It makes me feel out of control and afraid.

Uncertainty can lead you on grand adventures; it can force you to go deep and develop strength you didn’t know you had, it makes you think and act in different ways, it helps you develop the ability to respond quickly and adapt like a chameleon, but it can be agonizing pain when you want to make a long-term decision but have no base or root to make it from.

You’re just a spinifex bundle rolling around in the wind with no trunk to ground you.

How can you make a decision about your future when you don’t even know the direction the wind will blow you tomorrow?

Feeling incapable and having no roots

I’m 40 this year.

I’ve been a gypsy since I left my parents house in 1997 to move to London. I’ve been running to a life of adventure and freedom. I didn’t believe a settled life could offer me any of that joy.

I’m having a sense that I don’t need, or want to, run anymore. My priorities are changing and this travel style does not fit with them.

I need a chance to find my roots again. Perhaps to discover who I am and what I am capable without the travel present. Maybe travel has been a crutch for me – a way to avoid a deeper connection.

There’s a calling within me now to do something different, and I’m bashing up against myself with that one because I don’t trust enough in me. Perhaps the fear was living inside me that I wasn’t capable of creating a home of my own.

Maybe the idea of home works against my idea of freedom and so in an effort to avoid the curtailing of my freedom, I run from a home.

It’s hard to want to live two very opposing lives at the same time.

I want my own place. I want a vegetable and herb garden with a kitchen I can create wholesome foods in. I want my own office – space to create. I want my girls to have their own bedrooms – and us too. I want them to have friends over and I want my own to come over to. For BBQ’s and dinner parties and cups of catch up teas.

And that just throws up in my face my greatest fear – that I can’t provide for this financially.

I’m homeless with nowhere to go and not a shred of clarity as to where to go.

I have no means to create a home. I only have a few suitcases filled with possessions, which usually I love, but now I’m kinda scared about it. I’m too scared to decide where to make my home, in case in six months time I realise it’s not actually the home I want.

I’m filled with guilt that Australia is possibly not the home for me. Some of the places I want to create a home in are separated from me by oceans and visa rejections.

My head hurts from thinking about it and trying to latch onto an answer in a vacant room.

I feel as if I am suspended in a bubble – a place that has no past and no future – and I’m just hanging around waiting until I’m dropped somewhere.

Can you see how underlying the blues is a melting pot of fear, doubt and insecurity? We have to dig down to uncover them if we ever have a hope of moving freely forward.

Assess your values and priorities

What is important to you? Is it freedom, fun, security, contribution, adventure, self-growth, love? What will bring you most fulfillment? Perhaps your travel blues have hit because your values have changed.

This process has made me realize that although I value freedom above all else, security is now a high value of mine. Hmmm. They don’t coexist so well do they? Or perhaps they do.

I’ve discovered that you can’t have true freedom until you do have security. Because you can quit your job, throw you backpack on and wander aimlessly for years, but, pretty soon the resources will dry up and your security is breached. Discomfort and fear enters and the freedom slowly goes.

I want the freedom to wander aimlessly without having to work so tirelessly. That comes with security, passive income and smart investments. All of the things I know I can’t do so well while I’m traveling. It is possible, but I need some time and stability to work it out first.

Once you evaluate your values and what is important to you, you can figure out what you need to do. It’s okay to change. Most of the battle is tied up with resisting change because you’re frightened of who the new you will be. You don’t want to go home and say your passion for travel is gone when you fought so hard for it in the first place.

It might not even involve quitting the travel. It might just be an adjustment that is needed so you can make your travel style fit your new values.

Get real about what you want?

Time to remove guilt, fear, regret, insecurity, doubt and what you think is possible.

What do you want? Just speak from the heart without any limitations. Make it a simple paragraph.

I want the stability of a home, the security of knowing my needs are met and a base to continue to travel and create memories with my family. I don’t want this to necessary be a full-time nomadic thing. I want to break it up with a home and the space to create and explore the other parts of me that are important to.

Once you’re clear on what you want, you can start working towards it.

List the solutions

Now you should be getting clearer on what to do.

You know what you want. You know what your values are. You know what your deeper issues are and what’s currently not working. The rest often takes care of itself.

You’ll be surprised at how once you do the work in the previous steps, and get that clarity, the Universe starts moving things around to help you create what you want.

And usually now the haze has cleared, so you can see the solutions far more easily.

List all the possible solutions to your travel blues.

You know the drill: pros and cons. New paths, same paths, quitting paths.

Take some time to mull over it. Allow your gut to speak the truth.

Forget caring about what others think, or is best for them. This is your life, you’ve got to decide what’s best for you. (Unless you have kids, then it’s a whole different thing. Decision making is much easier if you don’t)

Now each day take one small step toward those solutions.

Reconnect with what you love

Take some time to reconnect with what you love, or those experiences that give you a sense of the home you’re craving to return to.

Meet up with new friends, rent a house and have a dinner party. Spend the day at the beach. Go for a walk in nature. Take some dance classes if that’s what you loved to do at home.

I chose to do yoga on the beach, go for bike rides through the forest, and rent out a beautiful home and had a dinner party with new friends and family.

I also took myself to an outdoor Bernard Fanning concert. Live music is something that always feeds my soul. It was the perfect lift to my spirit and I wondered what I was ever bluesy in the first place.

quality time with friends over the weekend
quality time with friends over the weekend

Let it go and just enjoy the moment

In my mediation this morning, I heard the inner voice telling me that it’s about learning to embrace the present.

That’s why I live in this uncertain bubble at the moment. It’s forcing me to get comfortable with having no connection to the past or future.

Living from the present is easy to do when you travel. But, when you lose the travel wonder and awe, your ability to let go and enjoy each moment is replaced with the awareness of uncertainty and the fear of it.

The fear and the angst comes from our resistance to the present moment.

I’m not completely okay with how our travel life is at the moment, but I accept that at the moment this is the way it is.

Until the bubble drops, I’m going to be grateful for this opportunity to travel with my family. I’m going to give up the guilt and the fears and trust that everything has a divine order and I will be taken care of.

Once I cleared up my blues through the above process I felt so much lighter and more able to cope. The fog cleared and I was doing the Billie Jean moonwalk with Kalyra in public car parks.

What’s next?

Acceptance. Trust in each step forward. Gratitude. New directions. Surrendering. Imperfection.

I’m still in the bubble so can’t tell you.

We could stay in Western Australia. We might just head straight to Queensland and find a base. We might spend 3 months in Thailand and work on some projects. Or, we could pursue a US visa and move back to North Carolina.

The path will reveal itself soon enough and I know all will be okay.

Update: We got a US O1 non-immigration visa and then a green card.

Ever been hit by the travel blues before? Share your experiences and how you overcame them? Did you stop travelling or just change direction?