Opinion: Traveling is stressful and exhausting

Opinion: Traveling is stressful and exhausting

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Let me begin by saying that yes, I am well aware that I am truly blessed to be healthy and live in a foreign country where travel is easily accessible. I also know I should be thankful that I can afford to travel and go trotting around Europe like it’s nothing. Paris for the weekend? Yes, of course! While you may mock the very thought of someone struggling over what country to visit on the upcoming long weekend, I must say that constant travel planning while living abroad is both stressful and absolutely exhausting.

Hear me out. Think back to when you were a kid and went on vacations with your family. I know it will vary for everyone, but I went on ONE vacation each year. That meant my parents were generally booking one hotel within driving distance and approximately one week’s worth of activities. We would eat out only a few times and normally brought food with us in a cooler. You know that family that was grilling out in the hotel parking lot? Oh yeah, that was us! I have nothing but fond memories of vacations from the good old days when my family loaded up the minivan and hit the open road. However, I went from going on one vacation a year to one vacation every month, if not more, while stationed abroad.

Fast forward to my current vacation mentality. How many countries can I visit in just three years while simultaneously maintaining a savings account and not getting sick because I never sleep? Do I hit a new country every long weekend? Ugh, there are so many! Do I take week long vacations in the summer? Probably not, I really love my bed. Should I travel with friends? Eh, depends on the friends. Is there time to revisit a place that I really loved? What about when airfare is really cheap to a place I don’t care about? Should I drive, train or fly? Once I get there how will I get around the city? Ideally horses and buggies will be available. Which hotel is most conveniently located? Do I splurge in Paris or London? How do I avoid tourist traps? Where did I leave my passport? What is the currency in Romania? Do I need a vignette? Should I stay in a hostel to save money? No, no, hard pass. Should I buy a Chanel bag in Paris; yes or yes? Is there or is there not an underground tunnel to England? Is Arendelle from the movie “Frozen” a real place? Gosh, I hope so.

I spend hours upon hours trying to plan the perfect trip. When I’m not on a trip, I’m actively planning every single day. My Pinterest boards for every European country are filled with blogs from so many places it would be impossible for me to visit them all. Booking.com and I have a love-hate relationship because of the hours my husband and I spend pouring over finding the perfect location. We do this fun thing where we book a hotel and then immediately find a better deal almost every time. Will we ever learn? I wish the travel gods would bestow upon me the knowledge to be able to visit a country and just know what to do and where to go.

I AM EXHAUSTED. The house is significantly messier than I would like, the dog is left with friends way more often than not. I take off work constantly and habitually start my diet “next week.” My workout routine takes a hit and any sort of sleep schedule is a joke. Looking at my debit/credit card statements is occasionally horrifying. (Side note: you are not spending Monopoly money when you go Polish pottery shopping!) Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel. Even on my worst trips I feel like I learn something new and meeting amazing people. I wouldn’t trade my time in Europe for anything. I have grown as a person and appreciate so many more things about my life. But, let’s be real. I’m tired, I’m stressed out and most importantly, I don’t know what shoes to pack. Where to next?  


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