There comes a time in long-term travel where you hit a wall and experience travel fatigue. You can only see so many castles, museums, temples, churches, or memorials before they all start looking the same. You find yourself going through them quickly, skimming over everything, just so you can say you’ve been there.
After spending over a year in and around Europe, we were excited to fly to SE Asia where we would experience a different culture and find something we thought we lacked. Something new! We would experience new foods, art, architecture, languages, and everything would be good. We would once again be excited about traveling and refreshed with new vigor.
After spending two weeks racing around Israel and Jordan we flew to Bangkok where we would spend a week seeing the sites before heading somewhere else in Thailand. We had looked at all the options, but could not decide on where to go after Bangkok. To the south were islands that would offer plenty of relaxation and sandy beaches. To the north would be elephants and eco lodges where we could learn and do eco stuff.
After arriving in Bangkok, Kerri and I came down with a nasty cold and it totally wiped out our enthusiasm about seeing anything. Bangkok was noisy, crowded, and totally crazy and helped decide our next location. We chose to head south to the quiet island of Koh Phangan and recover from the fatigue of being sick and long-term travel. Why Koh Phangan? Why not!
After a long overnight bus ride south we caught a ferry and arrived on the island of Koh Phangan. A quick taxi ride later we found ourselves at our beach bungalow for the next 3 nights. It was hot, we were tired, but the serene location on the beach was exactly what we needed to relax. The place was owned by two British expats and they offered things on their restaurant menu that we had been craving: cheeseburgers, onion rings, and American breakfast foods! We had only been in Thailand for one week, but we had already become bored with Thai food. Before leaving to travel around the world we loved Thai food and usually had it once a week. But when you have it for every meal, it gets old quickly.
We quickly decided that we liked Koh Phangan and found a bungalow with a kitchen to rent for 2 weeks. There is something about the island that drains your energy and turns you into a beach bum. We spent the first few days swimming in the sea, lounging around in hammocks, and doing lots of reading. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had to leave the country to renew our visas, we may still be there. Koh Phangan reminded me of the ancient Greek story of the Lotus Eaters who were content to just lie around all day eating lotus flowers and to never leave the island.
The lack of doing anything while on Koh Phangan gave me a chance to reflect. I started thinking about our future life after traveling around the world and a 4-letter word. Jobs! We have decided that we are going to try and resettle in New Zealand after our world tour and I would like to find a job helping in the rebuilding of Christchurch. They are desperate for people with experience in the civil engineering field and it seems like a great opportunity to have a once in a lifetime experience of helping a large city rise from the ashes after their devastating earthquakes. It also seems like our best bet to get residency visas to allow us to move there.
With a moment of clarity from the island’s influence of non-productivity, I decided to update my resume, which now includes an around the world sabbatical. The chance to experience multi-modal transportation and the different infrastructure around the world is definitely resume worthy! After updating my resume I found a job offer in Christchurch and decided to apply online. We still had 7 months left of our RTW trip, but it seemed like a good match and I figured it might take that long after applying for residency visas. The next day I received an email from the recruiter stating that he wanted to talk to me on the phone. I had to go find a SIM card for our mobile phone and then gave the recruiter my phone number. The phone conversation was actually a phone interview, which went well. Over the next month I ended up doing two additional interviews, a test, reference checks, and discussed salary and the visa application process.
In the end, I did not get the position, but it was a valuable learning experience and probably worked out for the better. The position would have started in July, which would have cut our RTW trip short; at least for me. We have two housesits arranged in Australia this summer and Kerri and Sydney might have had to do them by themselves if I had been offered the job. I looked online and found other jobs that I could apply for, but have decided to wait. I had spent the last month giving my complete attention to getting that job and it had taken away from our adventure. Instead of blogging, maintaining our website, or going out to enjoy this part of the world, I was practicing interview questions, researching construction and building standards in New Zealand, and looking at real estate and transportation options in Christchurch. What was I thinking?
The new plan is to wait until July when we arrive in Australia before even looking at jobs again. That should give me plenty of time to apply and interview, but more importantly, it will get my focus back to traveling around the world.
The heat and humidity of SE Asia is not helping with the travel fatigue, and is actually making it worse. Everyday I yearn to be back in Europe with the cooler temperatures, better food, and tap water that you can actually drink without getting sick. I think we need a vacation! Maybe we just need to find a quiet island in the South Pacific and spend the rest of our time lounging on a beach with the refreshing trade winds before heading to Australia in July. Long-term travel is amazing, but it really wears you out!
Heidi Wagoner says
Jason, I just dread the day we need to think about that traditional job again. I am glad you had the experience to get your feet wet in the interview world again, but I am even happier that you decided to wait until it was closer. It is strange, once you set your mind on something, it just happens. So of course when you focused on a job, it was presented. I love your plan of New Zealand and excited for your summer house sits. A little bummed you won’t still be in Asia when we arrive late July though. 🙂
After going through the interview process I must admit that it made me not want to go back to that old life we left behind. But, if it was in a different country, it would be new and exciting. Only time will tell. That’s too bad we will miss you. Maybe we can meet up somewhere else in the world!
Well, look at it this way… you’ve done all of your homework. Knowing that it’s done, you can enjoy the rest of your travels, although the humidity and heat can suck the life right out of you. We loved our visit to Australia and New Zealand, both amazing. Our son spent 6 months at the University of Melbourne and he absolutely loved his time in Australia. Great choice! But what happened to the coffee cafe in the south of France?! 😉
After going through the interview process and looking at resettling, I think it makes me appreciate this trip even more. We can always have those silly things of jobs, homes, schools, cars, and stability…. but we can’t always do a trip like this. It’s time to get focused on traveling full time again, while it lasts.
As for the coffeehouse, we are still planning to open one, but must get residency first if we will relocate to another country. So, that requires getting a job offer. We looked at France and the rest of the EU, but it is too difficult to get residency. Of course, we could always come back to the US or a territory and open a coffeehouse right away….
Yeah! I agree with Patti, what about the coffee house in the south of France? Well, wherever you end up, I hope your happy, and doing something you actually enjoy.
Thanks Tanya! As for the coffeehouse, its still in the plans, just not in France 🙂
One of the reasons I never did the long term travel when I was younger is because I know that I’d get travel fatigue. I can’t even last in an art gallery/museum for more than hour before the ‘wow, look at that masterpiece!” turns into ” yeah, yeah another painting”. I’ve often wondered how long term travelers cope and I suppose the only way I could do it is to slow way down.
Good to hear you’re coming to australia! We live in Brisbane so if you want some locals to show you around and somewhere to do your washing get in touch.
Btw – australia is very expensive, you might have to relax the budget a bit.
Traveling slowly is the best way to avoid fatigue! We have been traveling quicker than normal the past few months and it is exhausting! We will be in the Brisbane area in September, so might take you up on your offer of showing us around.
For what it’s worth, your story is highly energizing to those of us who read your blog! Good luck to you!
I totally agree, long-term travel is exhausting! Bad luck on the job but it sounds like you were really close; we loved New Zealand and I can see why you’d want to live there, we were shocked by the devastation in Christchurch and I think helping with the rebuild is a great way to use your skills. I can relate to this post too as we’ve also spent the last couple of weeks in Thailand looking for jobs for next year too. Excited to hear about your house sits in Australia!
I wonder what it is about Thailand that makes people want to look for a job 🙂
I hit a wall now and then too. Then I peruse LinkedIn and remember why I left all that in the first place… Maybe you will find your NZ dream job and we can come crash on your couch. 🙂
You guys are still in Vietnam, right? Head north! Hanoi’s temps are wonderful right now and Sapa (where we go tonight) should be really nice too.
You are always welcome to crash on our couch, wherever it may be! We are still in Vietnam and took a break from the heat and visited Da Lat for a week. It is high in the mountains and is nice and cool. We actually wore sweaters and jackets! If we can get a visa extension we will make our way north to Hanoi and Sapa.