Some Travel Days It’s Okay to Do Nothing

Recently I read one of those list posts that was titled something along the lines of “25 Things a Real Traveller Would Never Say” and it irked me.

It always annoys me when I see posts that perpetuate the idea that there is one “real” way of travelling the world and you need to do it that way in order to be legitimate or authentic. There is a huge range of travel styles and people will experience the world in that way that suits them – and that’s totally okay! We don’t have to have some sort of pretentious competition to see who can be the best and “most authentic” traveler.

Anyway, one of the items on this list of things a “real traveler” would never say was “Let’s just chill out in the hostel today and watch movies.”

Now, I understand where this point is coming from. After all, why save up your money and take a long flight to the other side of the world just so that you can curl up in bed with Netflix and a cup of tea? After all, you could do that at home.

However, I disagree with the notion that simply chilling out and doing nothing is something you should never do while you are travelling. In fact, I think that for any trip that is longer than a week or two, it’s absolutely essential.

Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Isla Bastimentos, Panama

No Matter Where You Are, You Need Downtime

When you are in a brand new foreign place, I understand that you are eager to see and do as much as you can. When I arrived in Paris on my first ever travel adventure, I wanted to get out there and see the sights even though I was delirious with sleep deprivation and jetlag. When you are in a travel destination there is a feeling that you need to experience as much as humanly possible while you are there. After all, you might never come back here! This is your last chance! What are you just sitting around for?

It’s important to remember that you are only a mortal human being and your body has limits – and travel can be tiring. When exhaustion sets in from running around trying to cram in every sight, you really do need to recharge. Otherwise, you end up getting sick, or being so tired and overwhelmed that you don’t enjoy your travels.

Lee reading the Kindle on the beach in the Algarve, Portugal.
Lee reading the Kindle on the beach in the Algarve, Portugal.

In that case, a day of curling up in a hammock with a good book is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t let anyone judge you and say you aren’t making the most of your time. You’re savouring the quiet moments so that you have more energy for the crazy moments.

Since Lee and I have been travelling long term for several years, we often have days on the road where we don’t check anything off a list of “Top Things to Do in _____”. I drink a coffee and do some writing work, we chill in a hammock and chat, we might go for a little stroll and then chill out in the hotel room with a few beers watching a movie on our laptops.

Lee likes to watch the football from a hammock.
Lee likes to watch the football from a hammock.

Those days are essential, because they keep our batteries and our budgets topped up for the days when we are rappelling down waterfalls in Ecuador, touring the Taj Mahal in India or going whale watching in Sri Lanka. If every day on the road was action packed, our energy and money would soon fizzle out.

What do you do to recharge on your “do nothing” travel days? Let us know in the comments below.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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  1. OMG yes! Thank you! Totally agree with you on this one. I’ve traveled with friends who wanted to do and see everything as fast as they can. I prefer to just in a coffee shop, sip on hot coffee and people watch to really let the environment sink in. But, it really does depend on the person and what he/she likes. I’ve been meaning to write something about this as well but you beat me to it 🙂

  2. Thank you for adding a different perspectiv to travelling compared to what is usually out there. Even though it is not so nice when it happens, it is nice to know that there is not only sun, beaches and amazing sights when people are travelling. 🙂

  3. Getting to lay in Hammock no matter where in the world is a holiday in itself from the daily norm for me. Relish the downtime people, FOMO is overrated.

  4. This is such a great article, you are so right and it took me a very long time to understand that you also need some downtime when travelling. We are a very active couple, we love to explore attractions, we both dive and like to try new things, so we often feel like a day hanging out on the beach is a wasted day and then return from the trip more exhausted than we were before our vacation. So it’s important to remember to also relax and start exploring the next day again with more energy!

    1. Hi Sandra,

      I know what you mean! It’s really hard not to feel like a day spent doing nothing is a “wasted day.” I had to shift my mindset into thinking about how that day of rest was not only essential for my health, but it also helped me enjoy all of the other more active days so much more.

      Happy travels!

  5. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of being in a new place and try to cram in as much as possible. But it’s important to remember that you’re only human and your body has limits. If you push yourself too hard, you’ll end up getting sick, or being so tired and overwhelmed that you don’t enjoy your travels.

  6. I understand what you’re saying! It’s tough not to think a day where you don’t do much is a “wasted day.” I had to change how I think and see that taking a day to rest is important for my health. It also makes the other busier days more enjoyable. flights

  7. The city is really nice. It’s sad to know that it’s losing some of its specialness because of too many tourists, but we can be hopeful that things will get better for the place in the future. James Bond island tour

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