How To Recover From Travel Fatigue: Expert Tips For Restful Holidays – And Returns Home!

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Learn how to recover from travel fatigue in our latest article.

Ever came back from a sunny holiday happy, but exhausted, and thought to yourself: “Why am I so tired after traveling?” You’re not alone! Extreme fatigue after travel can be incredibly difficult to deal with, while jet lag can also make many international travellers tired, groggy, and irritable for days after returning home.

For those of us living with medical conditions or disabilities, the exhaustion of travel can be particularly challenging to navigate. Coping with the physical and mental demands of a journey can exacerbate existing symptoms and leave you feeling depleted, while the disruption to your daily routines and the stress of travel planning can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

However, it’s essential to remember that travel fatigue is only temporary. By practising adequate self care and making rest a priority, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. In this article, we’ll cover everything from identifying travel fatigue symptoms to tips on improving sleep quality while on holiday (and back home!) to fight post holiday exhaustion.

Are you ready to find out more? Let’s dive in!

What Is Travel Fatigue?

First things first: what is travel fatigue, and why is traveling so tiring?

Travel fatigue usually happens after a long journey or active holiday. Things like sitting in cramped spaces during transit, walking long hours to sightsee under the burning sun, and messing up your normal routine can all contribute to feeling wiped out by the end of the day – and sometimes even after you come home. 

Travel Fatigue Symptoms

When experiencing travel fatigue, your body may feel heavy, your head or muscles might hurt, and you may find it hard to concentrate or make decisions. You might also feel grumpy or moody because of the exhaustion, putting a damper on your holiday plans.

Some of the most common symptoms of travel fatigue include:

  • Persistent tiredness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches, muscle aches or stiffness
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Mental fog
  • Decreased motivation or enthusiasm
  • Increased sensitivity to noise or light
  • Digestive issues such as bloating or constipation
  • Changes in appetite, such as overeating or loss of appetite

If you’re struggling with any of these issues, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to recover from travel fatigue – from rest and self-care to gentle movement like yoga. Read on for our favourite remedies!

Travel Fatigue VS Jet Lag

On the other hand, jet lag is caused by travelling through time zones, which disrupts your normal routine and throws your usual sleep pattern out of balance. While your body should usually adjust to the new time zone within a few days, jet lag can cause extreme fatigue in some cases and make it impossible to function normally – not the most ideal situation to be in when you have a whole new country to explore!

Some of the most common jet lag symptoms include trouble falling asleep at night, difficulty waking up in the morning, daytime fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. You may also experience irritability, anxiety, and a low mood – but remember that these symptoms are temporary, and can be easily resolved by practising good sleep hygiene.

To get rid of jet lag symptoms quicker, try switching to your destination’s sleeping schedule as much as possible – set an alarm in the morning to avoid oversleeping, and set a healthy bedtime routine to help you fall asleep at night. Eat meals at regular times, and don’t underestimate the importance of light exposure! Our bodies rely on sunlight to set their circadian rhythm and adjust our body clock – so make sure to go outside during the day and soak up those rays (with SPF on, of course!).

Sleep aids, such as melatonin or sleeping tablets, are not typically recommended for jet lag but can be helpful if your symptoms are severe. If you’re concerned about experiencing insomnia, speak to your GP ahead of time for more information and to find out whether a prescription for sleeping tablets will be needed.

How To Avoid Exhaustion On Vacation

Travel exhaustion can take its toll on your physical and mental health. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you avoid burning out and reduce fatigue after travel while on your next city break, road trip, or even business travel. 

Plan Ahead

Living with a medical condition shouldn’t stop you from travelling – however, a little bit of planning might be necessary to ensure you can travel safely and avoid or manage exhaustion. 

Consider using a holiday itinerary planner (whether a digital itinerary planner or a good old fashioned notebook – it’s up to you!) to carefully prepare your trip and help avoid the stress of things going wrong. Make sure you have all the documents you need, from travel insurance to accommodation details, flight confirmations and medical documents, and create a list of emergency numbers at your destination.

Put together a comprehensive list before starting to pack your suitcases to ensure you won’t forget any essential items, particularly medicine and medical devices. (But also things like your passport, house keys and wallet! You’d be surprised how often people forget those.)

Best trip planner: download our free PDF packing list!

Don’t forget to plan resting time into your itinerary and give yourself time to recuperate after busy sightseeing days. Scheduling moments for rest and relaxation is a great way to avoid FOMO, or the “Fear Of Missing Out” on new experiences when you’re inevitably forced to take a break during a jam-packed day of activities. Take things at your own pace, and try not putting too much pressure on yourself to see or do everything.  Holidays and time away are also for relaxing! 

Before your departure date, make sure to take care of any everyday tasks that may arise while you’re away, like ordering repeat prescriptions of your medication – that way, you won’t be coming home to an empty medicine cabinet and potentially risk missing doses. And because no one likes coming home to unmade beds and dusty shelves, a house clean just before you go is also a good idea.

Try to take a day off before you travel and a day off when you get back so you are not rushing around too much – this will also give you time for things that come up at the last minute and time to unpack your suitcase when you get back, rather than rushing to work or back to your daily routine. 

Practice Self-Care

Here at Your Travel And Health, we firmly believe that self care is an essential part of travel (and life in general). Taking care of your body and mind during your trip can help alleviate negative symptoms like stress, anxiety, and yes – travel fatigue.

Routine is an essential element of self care and wellbeing, which is why travelling can often take its toll on our mental health. Being thrown out of balance and removed from a familiar environment, though totally enriching, can be a very difficult experience – especially if you rely on a routine to manage your medical condition.

During your planning, create a sustainable “holiday routine” you can follow while in a different environment – for example, planning medication times according to time zone changes and booking accommodation / restaurants that are in line with your medical or accessibility requirements. Don’t hesitate to speak to your GP or medical care team ahead of time and ask for help in creating a new routine.

Other self care activities to recover from travel fatigue might include meditation, breathing exercises, and gentle movement. Physical activity is linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression, and is also key to a healthy body. Find an activity that aligns with your mobility and ability, and try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of movement into every day – yoga, walking, swimming, and cycling are all great options.

Don’t forget about hydration and nutrition! Drinking plenty of water (with added electrolytes for a hydration boost) and fuelling your body with healthy, balanced food (like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, lean protein and healthy fats) is key to feeling your best, no matter where you are.

Looking for more travel tips for travellers with medical conditions?

Check out our Travel Clinic section for more helpful articles!

How To Recover From Travel Fatigue

Post travel fatigue is an all too common experience for many people, and especially those of us living with medical conditions. No matter how relaxing the holiday, the simple action of traveling (which often includes spending hours in an uncomfortable plane seat or carrying heavy luggage) can be the source of a lot of tiredness upon returning home.

The dreaded jet lag may also make its appearance if you’ve travelled far across time zones. So, if you often find yourself tired after vacation time, here are some of our top tips on how to recover from travel fatigue.

Post Travel Self-Care

Remember what we said about routine earlier? Upon returning home from a holiday, getting back into your usual rhythm will help you regain energy and quiet your mind. Remember it’s okay to pace yourself and listen to your body’s needs as you ease back into your routine and slowly shake off the post vacation fatigue or jet lag.

Aim for plenty of rest, but be wary of long daytime naps if you’re struggling with jet lag. Try sticking to consistent waking up and sleeping times instead, and do your best to stay awake during the day. Stay away from caffeinated drinks and alcohol while your body readjusts to your schedule, as these may disrupt your sleep pattern even more, and once again – drink plenty of water.

Self care can also be found in human connection. Particularly if you’re coming home from a solo trip, connecting with friends and loved ones to share your travel experiences will be a great way to receive emotional support and increase your wellbeing. Why not meet over a healthy lunch or warming cup of tea?

Tips To Improve Sleep Quality At Home

Ready to delve into some sleep science? Sleep is as essential to life as oxygen. Inadequate sleep has been linked to various health issues, such as cardiovascular problems, a compromised immune system, increased susceptibility to obesity and type II diabetes, impaired cognitive function and memory, as well as mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

If you’re struggling to get back to a normal sleeping schedule once you’ve returned from your holiday, and you’re not getting better after a few days, it might be time to focus on sleep hygiene – put simply, all the habits, practices and routines you should put in place to ensure you are getting truly restorative sleep on a regular basis, both at home and on holiday.

Consider investing in a high quality mattress (or mattress topper, for a slightly more budget-friendly solution) for your bed – from memory foam mattress toppers to spring mattresses, cooling mattresses, and everything in between, there’s an option to suit every sleeper. Seek out mattress reviews online to find the right mattress for your needs.

Once again, routine is key. Quality sleep is measured by a number of factors, the most important of which is arguably regularity – keeping to consistent wake-up and sleep times and aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

Summary On How To Recover From Travel Fatigue

Recovering from travel fatigue starts with good planning, especially when managing a lifelong medical condition. Building a sustainable holiday routine, focusing on self care, and practising good sleep hygiene are all essential to a restful holiday and a fatigue-free return.

If you do experience symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, difficulties falling asleep or waking up, brain fog, headaches or digestive issues – just remember that these are temporary, and you’ll feel better in no time. Follow the tips above to help reduce tiredness, and speak to your medical team for advice if your symptoms do persist long after your return.

Do you have a tried and tested travel fatigue cure? Let us know in the comments!

FAQ On How To Recover From Travel Fatigue

Why Am I So Tired After Flying?

Flying isn’t easy on anyone, but it can be especially fatiguing for those of us living with medical conditions or disabilities. From long hours spent in uncomfortable seats, to changes in cabin pressure and disrupted sleep patterns, many factors contribute to travel tiredness. To make flying a little easier on your body and mind, remember to prioritise hydration, rest, and gentle movement – get up out of that seat and take a walk down the aisle whenever you can!

What Does Travel Fatigue Feel Like?

Travelers fatigue is often felt as a blend of physical exhaustion, mental fog, and emotional weariness, sometimes accompanied by muscle aches and headaches. You may feel groggy, irritable, or mentally drained – making it hard to get quality sleep despite your tiredness. Some people may also struggle with digestive issues such as bloating or constipation, and even changes in appetite, like overeating or a loss of appetite.

What Is Travel Tiredness Called?

Travel tiredness is commonly referred to as “travel fatigue.” Some other travel fatigue synonyms include vacation fatigue, travel exhaustion, driving fatigue, and jet lag (though jet lag is a slightly different condition).

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Travel Fatigue?

Recovery from travel fatigue and how long can travel fatigue last varies depending on individual factors such as overall health, duration of travel, and level of exertion. Most people are fine after a few days, but those of us with medical conditions may need a week or more of rest and relaxation to feel fully rejuvenated. Prioritising sleep, hydration, and gentle movement can help speed up the recovery process, allowing you to return to normal energy levels sooner.

How Can I Regain Energy After Traveling?

To regain energy after travelling, prioritise rest and ensure you get enough sleep to refresh your body and mind. Short naps can help recharge your batteries, but be careful not to oversleep if you’re struggling with jet lag. Drink plenty of water to combat dehydration caused by travel and incorporate gentle movement into your day to alleviate stiffness – such as light stretching or yoga. Finally, if you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or a low mood, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation – find out more about self-care techniques in this article.

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