For people experiencing burnout at work or home, a vacation can be a helpful way to jumpstart the process of recovery and adopting a more sustainable mindset. In this article, I share a few tips on maximizing the burnout recovery benefits of a vacation and discuss a few destinations that are ideal for people planning a vacation as a way to deal with burnout.
My & My Burnout
I’m no stranger to burnout. Raised in a family where work was lauded as life’s number one goal, one theme of my adult life has been relearning the delicate balance between work and leaving enough room for play. While most of us think that play is the realm of children- it’s actually really important for personal and vocational sustainability (i.e. burnout prevention) throughout our lives.
Play, I learned while earning my master’s degree in counseling, is an essential part of thriving both personally and professionally. As someone who struggles with overworking, vacations have been an essential part of how I avoid burnout and how I stop and give myself care when I feel like I am beginning to burn out.
Can a Vacation Help Burnout?
Vacations can help burnout by providing both physical and mental rest. A good vacation provides opportunities for novel experiences as well as rest and relaxation- all of which can help a person who feels burnout.
Burnout isn’t just a feeling, it’s something that takes place in our brains and our bodies over time. In the same way that burnout comes on slowly, recovery takes time. That said, one of the most effective ways to jumpstart the process of burnout recovery is to take a break. Physically removing ourselves from the environment in which we burned out, giving our body a chance to rest, and taking the opportunity to try new things, are all ways that a well-planned vacation can jumpstart the process of getting over vocational or personal burnout.
How vacations can help burnout recovery:
1. A change of scenery really can help
Neurologically speaking, a change in environment is powerful. Trying to shift away from overworking yourself to sustainable personal and vocational practices is hard. Doing it without getting away from the places and systems that contributed to our burnout makes it much harder. Taking time away, in a different environment, to work on those sustainability practices can help.
When we are in the places we are used to being, it’s automatic to be there in the way that we have been there previously. Burnout recovery, however, requires that we change something in order for our work to be sustainable for the brain and body long-term.
2. A vacation can be a unique form of rest
I’ll never forget my first cruise vacation. Although it’s not a form of travel I’m particularly excited to repeat, it was probably the most restful week of my life. Time on a cruise ship taught me that there are many genres of travel. While for many of us, “travel” means itineraries, sightseeing, and a list of things to accomplish, sometimes the vacation we need is the exact opposite: time to rest, freedom to let our minds wander, and total relaxation as we take a break from goal-oriented labor.
With the right planning, a vacation can be a unique opportunity to get away from both the demands of work and the normal day-to-day drudgery of life at home. Under a sunny sky or in a cozy lodge sheltered from winter elements, you may find a unique form of rest and burnout recovery through restorative travel.
3. Travel can re-energize a burnt-out brain
A brain experiencing burnout often struggles to find be interested in things and to experience excitement- similar to a brain experiencing depression. A change of scenery, such as a restful vacation in a distant (or not so distant) destination can be a way to help our brain rekindle those neural pathways involved in interest and excitement.
Trying new foods, exploring a beach at low tide, or taking time in a vacation rental to do a puzzle with a loved one can all be ways of helping our brain find those little moments of curiosity and interest that burnout may have taken away from us. Foster and follow your creativity where it leads you during your vacation in order to maximize the benefits of restorative travel.
Collected from both my own experience and a deep dive into related conversations that have taken place on the travel forums of the World Wide Web, here’s a list I’ve collated of the best destinations for burnout recovery vacations:
Best Destination for Burnout Recovery Vacations
Many travelers report that the nation of Slovenia is an affordable option for restorative travel. Slovenia offers a quiet, pastoral environment with a friendly and open vibe. Slovenia is known for great cuisine and has a small bit of territory on the coast of the Adriatic (a sea that has been very kind to me and my own seasons of post-burnout travel). In major cities in Slovenia, it’s easy to hop on group day tours to various sites. With group tours, you can relax and enjoy the tour without having to bother with organizing each step.
As large cities go, Budapest may be one of the best for restorative travel. Why? The city’s location upon geothermal springs and the popularity of communal baths culminates in one of the best cities for spas in the entire world. There are many baths and thermal springs in Budapest and many worth visiting outside of the city as well. Ourside of Budapest, the Hagymatikum at Makó in the south-east, or Lake Hévíz in the south-west, or Egerszalók in the north-east are all worthy of a voyage for weary travelers. In Hungary, you can plan an entire vacation (summer or winter) around lounging in warm waters- in oftentimes stunning Art Deco environments.
Norway by Train
Something about train travel soothes a soul. Once boarded, you can settle in and watch the world pass by while thinking your own thoughts or enjoying your own soundtrack.
One of the best in the world is Norway’s Trondheim to Bodø Nordland Railway. While I’m a fan of train travel in Eastern Europe, Norway’s highly developed rail system is a better option for travelers taking restorative travel following an episode of burnout. Let the Norwegians handle the details and enjoy the scenery- which is said to be particularly spectacular after dark on a clear night.
An Out-of-the-way Island
Island life has a different pace, and many travelers experiencing vocational burnout find that the slower pace, plenty of sun, and water can help restore mind and body. In fact, for centuries doctors have prescribed oceanfront retreats for people struggling with the pressures of life (and research backs this advice up, it turns out that air near large bodies of water and dense forests really does support human well being)
While the first islands that come to mind might be the most commercialized, people traveling to recover from burnout might want to choose more out-of-the-way island destinations. From the Outer Hebrides in Scotland to the lesser-known islands in Malaysia and from Lokrum Island near Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bainbridge Island and the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, there is almost certainly an island to vacation on with your ideal climate- whether that’s relaxing in the sun on an island near the equator or cozying up indoors as fog curls around an extreme northern or southern hemisphere island.
All-inclusive resorts, just about anywhere
When someone is experiencing burnout, planning a trip might be particularly hard. All-inclusive resorts offer a low effort way to plan a trip: booking a flight and a few days at an all-inclusive resort is all it takes to get away from your environment and begin relaxing.
All-inclusive travel is popular for reason – at all-inclusive resorts you don’t need to plan or organize anything- you don’t even need to calculate costs for most things! An all-inclusive resort is an excellent choice for burnout travel because it doesn’t require planning energy. Post burnout travel is all about relaxation, and of body and security might be a barrier to really enjoying yourself on the beach, check out my guide to how to enjoy going to the beach solo.
Although cruises can be crowded or over-curated, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being completely “unplugged.” Out to sea with no easily accessible Internet and no possible way to work is uncomfortable for some but deeply restorative.
For many travelers who are familiar with burnout, cruises are the default vacation for their restorative travel. Cruises are a particularly good option for burnout-related travel if you’ll be traveling with family. Since cruises have options for all ages and family members to be entertained, it can be a more satisfying vacation for many seeking deep relaxation.
Although many long-term travelers will eventually experience travel-related burnout, leaving home for a big trip or even a short vacation can be a powerful sensory jolt to the senses that helps our brains begin the process of burnout recovery through restorative travel.
What about you? Do you have a destination suggestion for the best spot to travel to one recovering from burnout? Drop me a comment below, I’d love to feature your option and perhaps even try it out myself on a future trip.
Artist, digital nomad, and highly sensitive person, Lynli started traveling full time as a digital nomad in 2018. Writer and Illustrator by day, remote-destination explorer by other-days, Lynli is passionate about pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone, exploring the world as a plus size, one-bag traveler, and journaling it all on WanderBig.com