Losing My Travel Mojo? A Tough Trip to Colombia

Let’s rewind to last week. It had been an especially rough couple weeks at home with the funeral of a close friend’s father and just general not being able to get a good hold on everything that was going on. On Thursday, I was setting of on an Amtrak to Chicago in order to catch a flight to Barranquilla, Colombia the following morning. I had been really looking forward to this trip as it was going to be my first time visiting South America since I booked the ticket a couple months ago. As Thursday drew nearer, I could feel myself getting less and less excited to go, but I had used this flight to position myself to Washington DC to meet up with some friends before heading to Iceland, Germany, and then another couple weeks around Europe. All in all I was slated to be gone for a month. And I wasn’t feeling it.

Alas, I sucked it up, packed up, and got on the train. I caught my flight the next day to Colombia, and landed in Barranquilla as scheduled at about 10:30pm. I arrived at my hostel and scheduled a bus for the following morning to Cartagena, a two hour drive from Barranquilla. You know, the usual.

After arriving in Cartagena, I was feeling kind of tired and not in the mood for exploring. But, I needed to get some work done while here anyway, so I decided to make Saturday my big work day. In the evening I headed out for a walk along the beach and felt a little more like my usual travel self.

Cartagena sunset

On Sunday I had to get up for a work meeting, and then was excited to do some exploring and photographing. I’m staying about a 25 minute walk from the Historical Center of Cartagena, so I headed that direction once I was finished with my meeting. I had a decent couple hours out and about and snagged a couple of photos with potential.

Historical Center of Cartagena


Needing to get out of the hot sun for a bit, and still feeling a little tired I decided to head back to the hotel for the afternoon. Once there I had found out a friend had to go to the ER. Everything turned out fine, but it was a long 12 ish hours until that was confirmed.

Throughout all of this, and even before leaving for the trip, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want out of life and reconsidering my priorities. For over a year now I have been nearly singularly focused on travel and how I can make full-time or nearly full-time travel a reality. While I think that I have determined that it is possible at this point, I’m not sure that it is a reality I want for myself.

Christine over at Frugal Travel Guy published a post today “Does Frequent Travel Make Us Sick, Lonely, and Mentally Unstable? New Report Says Yes” and I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t experienced many of the consequences that were mentioned in the report.

Granted, I’m not going to stop traveling. I don’t think my wanderlust is ever going to die, but I think it might be time to tone it down a little bit — at least for a while. So far this year I have been out of the country for 106 days, in country but outside of Michigan for 84 days, and in Michigan for 68 days. I have been in my state (not even necessarily at home) for only 25% of the year, yet I do still consider that to be “home.” I think the last few weeks may have taught me that I am pushing travel to a bit of an extreme. At times, it has become more work than fun even, and that’s not something that I want.

I thought about leaving Colombia early and heading straight home, but I’m looking forward to catching up with friends in DC and then heading to Iceland and Germany with a big group, and I didn’t want to miss out on that. I did suck up the $50 change fee on United and the increased taxes for flying out of Germany over Hungary (another $50), in order to return home 11 days earlier than originally planned.

The remainder of the year, I am mostly comfortable with what I have planned. I have an international trip to India with a friend, a trip to Jamaica with my boyfriend, a couple short weekend trips, and a short work trip. I also had been planning to spend a month in Central America traveling alone, and that’s the trip that I am not so sure about at this point. It’s not until the end of November, so I have plenty of time to decide… and hope for a schedule change!


  1. I dont travel nearly as much as you, but I totally agree with you….. I have been to 28 countries though. Im 42, and I do get excited about planning trips, but Im finding my heart isn’t in travel the way it used to be. Sure my wife and 3 kids go to Europe every 16 months or so and we do a few trips here and there. I go to PDX for work every month for 3-4 days.

    Thats about all I can handle. Frankly. camping with my children excites me almost as much as going to Paris!!

    1. I was definitely more excited about a recent camping/music festival trip to Colorado than I was for coming to Colombia. I think a bit part of it for me has become wanting to share my trips with people — and it’s fine if it’s people I meet while traveling or people I knew previously. Short trips (a week or less) don’t really make it easy to meet other travelers though, I feel like multi-week or even multi-month trips are needed to get into that mindset. At least for me.

  2. Well said Caroline, nice post and thanks for the mention. I think the intensity of what we’re feeling is a temporary state of mind but a significant sign that we do need to reevaluate what’s important and tweak the travel/home life balance. I’m right there with ya; like you said, our wanderlust is not going to go away so we need to find a way to keep traveling, feed that wanderlust, but somehow make time for those activities and people that are important to us. Safe travels.

  3. I can completely relate to your post and it’s not a good way to feel. I haven’t counted the days but we’ve been out of the country for about four months this year and I really just walked through a trip to Berlin and Helsinki after the death of a friend. However, I do think slowing it down makes all the difference. Over the last few years we’ve spent more time in fewer places and it has greatly increased our enjoyment. Sometimes you need the time to enjoy it. The running around can be fun but it can burn you out too, you can lose the joy and become cynical, the “well this is nice but not as good as x with we saw in y ” syndrome. India isn’t a good destination if you’re feeling tapped out.

    1. I definitely understand. It’s tough balancing with many of my friends/family being less mobile that I am (in terms of commitments, not physically). India is definitely going to be a push, but I’m going with a friend that I only see 2 to 3 times a year who has also always wanted to go. I’m sure we’ll make the most of it!

  4. I get it. I’ll go days without leaving the house after a long stretch- like this most recent six weeks in Asia and Hawaii with the kids. Sometimes it takes a bit of home time to regain the energy to travel.

  5. Once you’ve been there, done that, it is hard to get excited about travel as much as i used to. It’s like, do i really need to check Bangladesh off my list?

    1. I’m definitely still on a bit of a country-counting mission; but it only counts if I can actually enjoy my time there. Luckily today, my last non-travel day in Colombia I was able to really enjoy. Keep an eye out for a post this week or next!

  6. 2 concepts come to mind. Law of Diminishing Returns and Fear Of Missing Out. Ive been to the mental state youre facing now and I grew from it after coming to the realization that sometimes I was traveling just to impress someone (maybe myself) that i had this life. I was the traveler equivalent of a woman with a huge closet of designer shoes or a man with a massive car collection.

    I enjoyed travel more once I stopped counting countries and just focused on enjoying wherever i am at (even if it’s home).

    1. Thanks for the comment Songer! I’ve always been really motivated by lists (to-do, to-visit, etc) and I think that is still coming into play here. I really enjoy visiting new places, but I have to make sure that I am enjoying while there (and home)! I used to have a lot of trouble enjoying my time at home because I always felt a bit bored, but I love my family and friends and want to spend time with them too. They are what makes home great.

  7. I think the trick is to travel slow or to break up periods of moving every few days with a period of exploring one city for a few months. The whirlwind trip is exciting on paper, exhausting in reality! I’ve always been blown away by how you dash around the world, Colombia to Germany is a long way! Go easy on yourself and enjoy the journey 🙂

    1. Lindsay, I think you’re right! I think this whole year has been a bit of a whirlwind. Granted, I have had some wonderful experiences, 2 weeks in Ireland and the Durian Tour both come to mind especially, but I want to make sure that I can enjoy every trip at least *almost* as much as those two! Hope you’re doing well and let’s catch up sometime soon. I’d love to know what you’ve been up to and what your plans are!

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