The guilt of a day off

You are travelling so you should be out and making the best of it. Or it’s your day off, so you should go out and do something on your endless to-do list.  I don’t know about you, but I’m quite often guilty of not allowing myself to take an easy day or an actual day off when I am travelling.

Why is it so hard to take days off ?

There are many reasons to this issue, the main one being we don’t want to miss out on anything.

It’s funny how when you live a traditional life, usually, there is one day per week, or, at least, half a day where you don’t do much. You relax, recharge batteries, read, whatever you fancy. But when travelling, we tend to forget that we need days off in order to be able to appreciate what we have and what we do.

I know it’s one of my struggles. I travel, see amazing things and then comes a day where I don’t feel like going outside and rushing it. I usually want to stay in and read or spend the day binge-watching on Netflix. When it happens on a rainy day it makes it easier to allow myself the rest. But when it is a sunny or warm day (or both which would make it even more difficult), I feel guilty not to be outside enjoying the city or town I’m in. I usually end up not staying in because of this feeling of guilt. I’m in a new place, there are loads of things to do. I should be out there, exploring, discovering. But you know what I realised after allowing myself a couple sunny days in? Most things will still be there the next day!

There is rarely a need to rush when travelling. It adds unnecessary stress and makes it harder to live in the moment and enjoy the experience while it is actually happening.

Sometimes you just need an afternoon nap!
Sometimes you just need an afternoon nap!

The truth about travelling

Most people tend to see travelling as vacationing. Relaxing on a beach, not doing much. But the truth is, it is exhausting! I, for once, am always walking, all day, every day! I spend entire days outside, communicating the few words I know in a different language, figuring out buses, trying not to get too lost, learning a lot of historical or funny facts. I barely stop to eat, instead just grabbing a sandwich on the go, before going to another site. When I come back to the hostel, flat or whatever place I call home for the day, I’m usually physically and mentally exhausted. I spend the night chatting with my new friends or with my family before going to bed.

And when the next day comes along, I hit the ground running once again. For a couple days or even a couple weeks it is sustainable, but after a while, the body needs to rest. The mind needs to process the multitude of new information, new encounters, new environments, new experiences, new scenery etc. Slowing things down when travelling and realising that it’s not a race of who will be the first person to have seen everything a city or a country has to offer helps. But even if you slow travel, it’s still a lot to take in and the body and mind need some resting time.

That’s why days off are so important. And also why there should be no guilt into stopping. Just because we live in a world where performance and constant availability are the new normal, it doesn’t mean you can’t step back. Turn off your computer, your phone, your brain and your guilt for a while. And simply enjoy doing nothing at all.

1 thought on “The guilt of a day off”

  1. Quand j’etais a Budapest, je marchais beaucoup le jour avec de tres courtes haltes pour les repas quand j’en prenais un. Le soir venu, j’etais au lit vers 10heures la plupart du temps. Ce qui, habituellement, est TRES tot pour moi. Mais mon corps et mon esprit etaient fatigues. Et effectivement, je me sentais coupable de ne pas apprecier ou essayer la vie de nuit. Et, par deux fois, j’ai pris des journees de repos. Pratiquement rien faire. Et encore la, je me disais qu’il y avait bien d’autres endroits ou de choses a visiter ou a faire. Mais dans le fond, comment j’aurais vraiment apprecier les jours que je visitais si j’etais trop fatiguee? Et oui! ces endroits seraient encore la le lendemain….

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