I get bored really easily. I’m not even kidding I tried to write this post about 5 times and each time I got distracted by something shiny and wandered off to do something else.. I regularly feel like a 5 year old with advanced ADHD, who’s just downed enough coke to make anyone violently ill and forgotten to take their meds.. or maybe it’s just because I’ve grown up in an online culture that’s conditioned me to click something every 3 seconds and complain loudly about having to wait 5 seconds for the YouTube video to load… These days we’d have to easily be the most overstimulated, impatient people to exist in the entire history of the planet… by a long way.
Anyway I’m pretty sure boredom is unhealthy, however I’ve done almost no research on the subject because you guessed it.. I got bored researching it.. (oh the irony!) but in all seriousness boredom is medically really bad for you. In the long term it destroys the imagination, kills your drive (and will to live) and fills your metaphorical glass with nothing but lukewarm dish-water and mediocrity… oh the humanity!
Still anyone who’s worked in an office can relate to boredom in a big way.. board room meetings (I think it should be spelled Boredroom, but that might be just me) financial figures, meetings, conference calls, meetings, emails, meetings.. it just goes on!
I’ve actually tried really hard to simply lose the will to live and voluntarily pass away half way through yet another pointless meeting, however unfortunately I’ve always lost the inevitable battle with my biology, as unluckily for me I haven’t yet managed to actually die half way through a conference call…
But what’s all this boredom stuff got to do with travel? Isn’t travel supposed to be the cure of boredom? I can hear you thinking: ‘Aren’t you always banging on about how travel is the cure of a snoring life and how wonderful it is and all that bollocks!?’ Well yep I am.. all things I stand by, however something that no one ever tells you before you give your boss the middle finger and throw your desk at someone is that long term travel is filled with moments of boredom.
Actual travel days can be boring; being stuck on an 18 hour bus ride after forgetting to charge your laptop can be a little disheartening and as much as I like to get lost in the scenery and the sites outside, there really are only so many hours that you can endure staring out the window before you feel like doing something else. I try to approach the situation in as much of a Zen manner as I can, but its hard when you’ve been conditioned to click 1,000 times an hour on every man and his dog.
Yes there I said it; travel can be boring. But then again, even 18 hours on a bus is still just way better than being an accountant, (no judgement to accountants but I have a Masters in Accounting and oh.. my.. god.. it’s just not my idea of a good time). Don’t get me wrong, I love just gazing out the window and I do a whole lot of it on travel days; I enjoy getting lost in nature, philosophizing on life, cogitating on existence, meditating on how lucky I am, admiring the great outdoors to the nth degree and then yet after 13 hours of bouncing down a road in seats that might have been designed by a midget without legs I feel a bit like a German I met on the way to Turkey called ‘Herman’ (I didn’t make that up) who immortalized the moment by stating: “I love to travel by bus, but right now my Zen is all kinds of fucked up”..
Could we take a more high minded, philosophical approach and look at an 18 hour bus ride sandwiched between Charles Manson and the world’s fattest lady as a character building, ‘the journey is more valuable than the destination’ type experience? Well yes I suppose we could but even as Nietzsche coined the term ‘What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ he was already speeding along in the process of quietly going mad.
But that’s life right? Yep and I certainly do agree that it’s a more interesting way to spend a few days than doing financial projections. I guess the point; is that while there are so many good aspects to seeing the world and long term travel, there will always be down time to kill. Still this isn’t really an issue as long as you have books, games, music, other people etc… you can keep yourself more or less entertained on trips like this, the other option of course is just going to sleep…
When boredom really becomes an issue on the road is when you actually get bored with travel itself..
It might be time to re-consider things when you find yourself walking down the cobbled streets of [insert ancient city here] and just not really giving a f%ck about its history, aesthetics or who killed who on that exact spot X number of years ago. The same can be said for tropical paradises, palm trees and those little cocktails with umbrellas in them.. there are only so many Mojito’s you can drink on a tropical beach before the last thing I ever want to see is anther Mojito.. so it follows that the longer you hit the road the more likely you are to become somewhat indifferent to things..
Anyone who’s spent any serious amount of time abroad can relate to this in some way, I wrote a post about getting travel weary previously and this is really just a part of the same dilemma. But what to do about it? I think there are a few key things that can really help to remedy any feelings of indifference and help to get your travel mojo back! I’ve done all three of them myself at times in my life.
Go Home: Let’s address this one first; maybe it’s just time to finally pack the bags and hang up your boots for a while? Travel can get really tiring and not everyone can live out of a bag forever, I know that after about 8 months of constant movement on the road I was missing the comforts of home, I was weary and in many ways ready to head home for a time at least. When you stop enjoying things and you’re sure it’s not just a ‘bad day’ maybe home is a viable option.
Travel slower: Ironic that you might feel like taking a holiday from your holiday… but it’s true, why not base yourself somewhere for a longer period of time if you’ve been travelling constantly trying to see everything it might be a good time to slow things down and get to know a place really well. Slow travel can be really rewarding and when you get to the point that you no longer care about missing out and as a result try to see everything in a short time frame, slow travel can offer a new and unique experience.
Break the routine: Hand in hand with the above, break things up and try something different. If your plans are flexible enough to accommodate a drastic change then take advantage of it. Sick of the historic buildings of France? Jump on a cheap flight to the Greek islands and lay on a volcanic beach for a few weeks. The other thing you can do is change ‘how’ you travel. Maybe hostels no longer hold the appeal they once used to or you’re just sick of people like ‘Steve’, so why not cash in the hostel bar for a quiet B&B style room for a while? If you’re sick of solo travel, find a buddy to travel with or visa-versa. Make a change and then access how you’re feeling before throwing in the towel and heading home.
I considered writing this post in the most uninteresting, boring way I could just to prove the point about boredom being bad for you but then the mechanics of my conclusions would probably have been lost, along with the readers will to live.. anyway I’m not really sure that the irony of such an idea would hit the mark either.. anyway I’ll leave you with this: Do one thing for too long and your brain tries to commit suicide… so why not try something new?