Sightseeing can be hard work. It can be exhausting to be a tourist. Between going up and down stairs, pounding the pavement between sights, and dodging people who are trying to sell you stuff I often feel like I just ran a marathon at the end of the day. Not to mention the mental challenges: the cultural differences, the language barrier, and if you’re a solo traveler, the feeling of being alone in a foreign city.
Bangkok was where I learned why having a rest day while traveling is important. Bangkok was a particularly hard city to sightsee. The humidity and the heat left me drained. Not to mention the air pollution: the dirt and dust that ended up plastered onto your sweaty skin. 2 days of all of that and I was exhausted. I was done.
I decided to take one day where I did nothing but eat and getting pampered at a local spa. The next day I felt amazingly refreshed and rejuvenated.
Another city that I remember leaving me feeling drained at the end of the day was London. Those cobbled streets and the (very) long and steep stairways in the Tube made my feet swollen and sore. There was nothing I’d like more than finding someone to rub the ache off my feet and the tension off my shoulder. Fortunately finding a place to get a massage in London was easy. There were plenty to choose from.
Granted it wasn’t as cheap as Thailand and I couldn’t really afford to go very often. But the few times I did go, what a difference it made.
I learned that now that I’m getting older traveling isn’t just about ticking off the checklist of must-see places anymore. I need a rest day in-between to take a physical and mental break. A break is necessary to avoid travel burnouts. Having a rest day assures that I’ll stress out less and stay healthy while on the road. For me, taking a rest day has also given me opportunities to develop relationship with other travelers. Something that’s hard to do when you rush around from one sight to another.
Everyone has a different idea of what they like to do during these rest days. Some might opt for staying in their hostel to read while others prefer to lay on the beach. In case you haven’t figured it out already, my rest days consist of eating local food and getting massages. Despite the cost, I always find that it’s worth the money.
As a matter of fact, we’re thinking of taking one of those spa breaks in Scotland next summer. Organizing a vacation around relaxing is something I’d never considered 5 years ago. But right now? The idea of being pampered in a hotel that looks like a castle while surrounded by Scotland’s great scenery sounds like a wonderful idea. I have no doubt we’ll leave Scotland ready once again to face the crazy work life we lead.