Going to Bali: Even Travelers Need a Rest

“Wait, isn’t your life one big vacation?”

I realize that we, as travel bloggers, do our bit to perpetuate this myth by posting fun updates and photos on an almost constant basis. While all these experiences are true, there are also unglamorous bits, challenging stuff that goes on behind the scenes.

So here’s a bit of the honest truth: I’m tired. Actually, I’m exhausted.

Layers of Fatigue
Although traveling through Bangladesh was fascinating and fulfilling, it required incredible amounts of energy. This was on top of a whirlwind trip through Jordan. My body and mind are now telling me they need a break.

My head feels fuzzy, little things tire me out and I find my patience wearing thin sooner than it once did (Dan will probably agree with this). I feel as though I’ve lost sight of the big picture and find myself distracted by little things that don’t matter. I feel like my creativity is sapped.

In the constant movement in the pursuit of “making the most of it” as a traveler, blogger, and digital nomad, I haven’t been listening to my body. I’ve fallen into an unhealthy cycle that feels eerily similar to the ones I experienced when I had a traditional desk job.

This time, I have no one to blame but myself.

Bali on the Brain
So as our journey through Bangladesh continued, I began dreaming of a 10-day silent meditation retreat. The idea of silence, sleep and a low-stimulus environment where I could be still and think sounded heavenly. But the schedules for these retreats didn’t work out.

Then Bali got into my brain. As did yoga.

Yes, it’s cliche. Yes, it’s very Eat-Pray-Love-ish. But I don’t care.

As I began researching online, I saw photos of cute bungalows in lush green gardens with “breakfast served on the porch” and thought, “I want that.” I want quiet. I want peace. I want green. I want a place where I can read, where I can write. I want to stretch and exercise my body.

We leave for Bali tomorrow.

Bali Plans
We will be a couple of weeks in the town of Ubud before joining a weeklong G Adventures tour of Bali as Wanderers in Residence. What attracted us to this tour (besides the fact that hello, it’s beautiful Bali!) is that it seems to have a good balance of structured and free time.

I have no delusions that a few weeks in Bali will resolve all my issues, but I do hope that by resting, some of the fuzziness in my head will dissipate so I can think more clearly. With this, we hope to incorporate more balance again into our lives.

Tree Pose at the End of the World - Petra, Jordan
Yoga at Petra in Jordan

If you’re wondering what happened to the Panorama of the Week that usually appears here on Mondays, you can find it at The Sawdust Carpets of Semana Santa. We posted it a few days early for Good Friday.

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  1. says

    Thanks Audrey. I’m not a traveler, but I get to learn and enjoy by reading wonderful blogs like yours.

    And yes, I always thought that while traveling it would be one big vacation. Sure, there’s the ups and downs, but still one is free to do whatever one desires.

    I’m sure I’m naive that way, but either way, enjoy Bali. I certainly enjoy your lovely blog–Thank you.

  2. Bo Wixted says

    Play is hard work.

    You COULD take a break by burrowing into a gray cubicle and a going through the motions of some boring desk job for a couple weeks! Just a thought.

    You guys do great “work.” Hope to meet you on the road someday.

    Enjoy Ubud.

  3. says

    @Mike: Thanks for your thoughts. We have deliberately chosen this lifestyle, which has many opportunities for learning and growth. I don’t mean to sound like an ungrateful complainer, but that in any lifestyle you can get out of balance if you don’t consciously make certain decisions.

    It is true that we have a certain amount of freedom as travelers, but we still can’t do whatever we desire due to money and time constraints. We have to work for a living at the same time that we’re traveling. This not only means limited cash so that we travel on a budget (i.e., stay in hotels and eat at places most of our friends back home would run away from), but we’re always thinking about the next internet connection and project at the same time that we’re traveling (with all the logistical planning that involves). If we were just traveling, it would be easier as we could put all our focus and time into this. This is why we need to think through next steps with a clear head.

    @Kristin: Yes, the intensity of Bangladesh was like nothing we had experienced. All the attention comes from a good place, but to have crowds around you all the time drains can be challenging. Add to that harrowing bus trips and so much to process from a socio-economic standpoint and we were pretty much spent at the end of each day. Yes, hoping Bali helps to rejuvenate a bit!

    @Bo: LOL. Yes, play can be hard work :) I would be lying to you if I hadn’t thought a few times of your suggestion – returning to the cubicle for some stability to see how I like the alternative. I figured some rest to step back from it all was a better solution. Hope our paths cross someday.

  4. says

    As we are prepping for our own pending RTW trip, we realize we have to be sure to take a break from travelling, just to relax. I don’t think this should be a problem, as we plan on travelling relatively slow, even when we aren’t “relaxing”, but this post is a great reminder.

    As a sidenote, we had minimal interest in Bangladesh until reading of your adventures, but now we hope to include it in our journey, right after India…yikes..imagine the break we will need after that run… :)

  5. says

    Enjoy Bali! I know exactly what it feels like to “do” Bangladesh – this place saps ones emotional and physical strength really quick [don’t laugh! I know what you are thinking “he’s been there forever so he must be pretty much dead by now”]. Am keeping a regular look on your blog, and enjoying your travel essays and photos. Thanks for sending me the link to the data backup article. Most helpful. Cheers!

  6. says

    Good for you for taking a break, Audrey. I don’t know how you do it. While I admire your lifestyle, I certainly don’t envy it. I don’t know how the two of you keep going and going!

    Enjoy your break in Bali. It’s a well deserved vacation. :)

  7. says

    @Skott and Shawna: Good that you are already working in R&R time into your RTW trip. The trick is to keep reminding yourself of this once you’re on the road and don’t get sucked into the “we only have 2 weeks left in this country and want to do x, y & z.”

    So glad to hear that you’re hoping to visit Bangladesh along your journey. It’s not the easiest of travel, but it is fascinating and the Bangladeshi people are likely the most friendly and open people you’ll meet on your trip. My suggestion? Visit Bangladesh and then go to Goa or Kerala in India for a break.

    @Anil: Your comment did make me laugh. It also made me feel better in that I’m not losing it. Don’t worry, when we met in Dhaka you seemed very much alive and full of energy! So, you must have found a way to keep balance in that crazy city. Care to share your secret??

    I hope that in the next couple of weeks as I rest up, I’ll be able to collect the rest of my thoughts on Bangladesh and post more pieces.

    @JoAnna: We’re wondering the same thing right now – how we do it! We’ve been trying to juggle too many things for too long and it’s caught up with us. Time to take a vacation, rest, read, think and look at things again with a clear head.

  8. says

    I know exactly how you feel! We have stopped here in Mexico for 3 months now. After a year of constant travel we just needed somewhere to be in one place for a while. We are soon about to head off and explore central/south america now though…so that excites me!

  9. says

    That sounds absolutely wonderful! Ubud remains one of my favorite places and to do something like that would make it even better. Enjoy every second of it!

  10. says

    Wishing you a restful vacation from your perpetual travels. I’ve been crazy burnt out lately, and I’m not sure why. People keep telling me it’s the changing seasons, but I’m not so sure. Bali sounds like the perfect place to go!

  11. Claudia says

    Hey guys! I just want to let you know that you really inspire me. I’ve been reading through your articles, and there is one that really strikes me: The Stuff Junkie Vs. the Experience Junkie… On the other hand, being on the road all the time certainly sounds romantic, however I understand how tough it probably is, both on a physical and a mental level…
    However, as long as you enjoy whatever you are doing, the satisfaction you derive from it makes up for any sacrifice… I have been pondering the idea of going away for a while, and the logistics part is not easy at all, I’m still working on it. I believe it is very hard work but I do think it’s worth it… I hope this travel hiatus will give you back the strength you need in order to keep going, whether it is back home or hopefully somewhere else! Enjoy Bali!

  12. says

    I am thinking of a retreat at the moment to. I have been dreaming of doing something similar. I better start getting up early and doing my usual yoga routine. It has been to long. Well….ummmm. 3 months to long.

  13. says

    Some down time in Bali sounds like a great idea :) It’s so easy to get burnt out when you’re on the go all the time, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for being exhausted. It’s better to nip it in the bud than to become completely ‘blah’ about new places.

    That was part of the reason I ended up coming back to Sydney slightly early – I’d run out of steam and wasn’t doing the places I visited justice.

    But I’ve had my break and I’m ready to get back on the bike again – and I’m sure you guys will be in the same position right in time for your tour. Which sounds awesome – I’ve travelled with Gap before in Asia and they are *awesome*

  14. Emily says

    you deserve to be exhausted & have a nice break. i hope you get to relax. while there’s excitement even in the small things in life, whatever you end up doing when this journey concludes could seem kinda boring. so, muster up whatever energy you have left, and keep GOING FOR IT!!! good luck! love, emily

  15. Hartini says

    Audrey and Dan,
    You will find that “dan” is “and”… :):):):)
    Have fun in Bali, get some rest, massages, and try cream bath… (this is massage for your head) he-he-he
    After all of this time.. Bali at last.
    Ubud is popular for tourists attraction :)
    I will be waiting for the stories… :)

  16. says

    When traveling becomes your work you’ve got to take a break from both. Your pace has been very intense based on your updates; you deserve the break! It also does wonders for creativity I’ve found :)

  17. says

    Audrey, this sounds like a well-deserved rest, and I hope you guys really enjoy the rest.

    One thing we didn’t really anticipate was the need for downtime. At the 6-month mark we boarded this Gap Adventures repositioning cruise from Argentina to England, and it has been just what the doctor ordered. Only 1 stop along the way, and plenty of time for reading, writing, relaxing and recharging. No worry about where to find the next meal, how to get from A to B, or struggling with the language. The only downside has been lack of exercise, and that’s my fault not heading to the gym enough. :)

    It is nice every once in a while to turn your brain off from the constant stream of “new” and just be. Enjoy yourselves!

  18. Steffany Kay says

    Enjoy Bali! We have been in Buenos Aires for almost a month and I already feel the need to step back and find the quiet that is needed to keep the balance. Good for you guys to realize it and act upon it.

  19. says

    @Elise: It’s great that you guys took a long break in Mexico to regroup and also have time to reflect on everything you’ve experienced in the previous year. We’ve done this a few times and I find I start getting itchy feet around month two or three. Enjoy the rest of Central & South America!

    @Lori: I’ll let you know how the yoga and everything else goes. I’m already enjoying the peace and green of the garden courtyards :)

    @Sasha: End of winter usually coincided with burn out for me when we lived in a more seasonal environment. Also, you’ve been sick. Hopefully the spring weather combined with getting your health back will help. If not, try to find your own little retreat or Bali near home.

    @Claudia: Thanks so much for your comment and support. We do derive a lot of satisfaction from our travels and the learning opportunities it provides and the people we meet. This is what keeps us going. We just need some time to be still, process what we’ve experienced and get our energy back for next steps. Good luck making your trip a reality soon! The logistics stuff falls into place somehow – it’s making the decision and sticking to it that is the hardest step.

    @Anthony: It’s so easy to get out of good routines – like yoga in the morning – on the road :) Good luck finding your retreat or getting back into your morning yoga!

    @Roy: Had never heard of “FOMO syndrome” – thanks for enlightening me. There is definitely a dose of that and also the trying to balance being in the moment of travel with thinking of upcoming work and other stuff. Makes one’s head hurt sometimes :)

    @Megan: You’re right on. When you’ve been moving a bunch, seeing lots of great things and absorbing so much from a cultural and socio-economic standpoint, it’s important to take a break and just do nothing and rest at the end. This not only helps to reflect and understand all that you’ve just done. But, it keeps you from becoming exhausted and jaded by travel. Don’t want to become that way.

    @Emily: You always seem to understand, even when I’ve dropped off the radar for chunks of time. I always try to look for enjoyment from the little things, but when you’re tired it’s hard to see that. I knew I needed some rest and being still to get that energy and perspective back.

    @Hartini: Finally, we get to your home country! Our stay here will be rather quiet, as we’re hoping to just rest in Ubud for most of the time. So, not sure how many stories we’ll have, but we’ll try to keep posting some update. The head massage sounds quite nice right about now!

    @Anil: You are someone who understands well that balancing the joys of travel with the working element of it is difficult. When I found myself not being able to write more than a few sentences before getting distracted by something else, that’s when I realized I needed a break. Looking forward to getting some of that creativity back!

    @Betsy: When I read the post about your regular schedule on the boat, I was thinking how great a similar schedule would be for us. Not figuring out where to sleep every night, a little stimuli and people, but enough time and quiet to read, write and just be for a bit. People in Bali keep asking us about all our “plans” and I think they are a bit surprised when I say, “Rest, yoga, sleep, reading, writing.” I’ll be ready for lots of “new” in a bit, but for now I’m enjoying watching the flowers in the garden of where we’re staying.

    @Andi: Thanks! Enjoying all the garden and green spaces!

    @Steffany: Glad to hear things are working out for you two in Buenos Aires. When you arrive in a new place, it’s easy to want to do it all and plan out the days and evenings. But then, it’s also great to fall into simple routines of getting a coffee and medialuna from your favorite place and just enjoying that for what it is. Enjoy the rest of your time there!

  20. says

    I can totally relate to this. You get tired, especially after you have been on the road so long or have been just hectic for awhile too. Bali is a great break. Ubud is amazing. Though very eat pray love like, there are a lot of good hikes to do in the area too. Commune with the rice fields!

  21. kevin & Joan says

    ok, you two – in Ubud, we recommend Naughty Nuri’s for martinis & ribs! they go together really, really well. Also, one of our splurge meals was at Mozaic – American chef raised in France – sublime…. high end and one of our top 5 meals ever! Miss you and wish we were there! K & J

  22. says

    @Matt: Think it’s the combination of the two that did us in – we’ve been on the road for a long while combined with some very intense travel (physically and emotionally). Ubud is more developed than I had expected, but very low key. Looking forward to doing some hikes in the area – the vibrant green of rice fields is beautiful!

    @Kevin & Joan: Thanks for the tip on Naughty Nuri’s – never thought martinis & ribs would go so well together, but I’m always up for trying new things :) Wish we could share a drink with you two as well. Hope all is well!

  23. says

    Glad to read you are taking some time to rest and “re-charge.” Bali, from what I have heard from travelers very familiar with that destination, is a beautiful country.
    Look forward to your posts and comments about Bali,

  24. says

    @Tim: Thanks for your comment. I began to feel better within a few days of resting, doing yoga and just being still. We’ve only been in Ubud so far. Even though it is more developed than I first expected, I find that ducking into back alleys and spending time in our homestay family’s garden compound bring the quiet I wanted. Definitely no complaints about coming here!

  25. says

    Audrey, I am glad to hear that you are finding the time to rest. I agree that most people have a idealized notion of “traveling” that just focuses on the wonderful aspects (which are many) and not the challenging parts (which are also many, including the logistics of getting from one place to another, sometimes dealing with difficult people, perhaps not finding personal space, and–in our case–ensuring the safety of our two kids).

    Plus, there is what I call the “saturation point,” where we just cannot absorb one more piece of new information no matter how incredible. Like a sink that has had too much water poured in and is in danger of overflowing, we just need to sit and relax and let our brains continue to absorb and process all of the things that we have just experienced.

    In our family trips, we usually plan for a “vacation from our vacation” after 7 to 10 days of intensity. We have developed a good travel rhythm as a family, but I really do work hard during the planning stages to try and create that perfect balance (ha!) of activities and experiences so that we remain fresh and enthusiastic, and don’t arrive home completely exhausted mentally and emotionally.

  26. says

    “Wait, isn’t your life one big vacation?”

    I HATE that line!

    Ubud is really chill. I’m kind of at that point now, playing in Sumatra for a month before heading back to the States for 2 months of weddings/responsibilities/schedules. I’m definitely (already!) looking forward to my flight back to Hong Kong so I can just *sit still* for a while and not be constantly on the move.

    Also look forward to more about Bangladesh. Its somewhere I’m likely going to need to pass through in the course of the next year and I don’t really know much about it!

  27. says

    @Kathy: You bring up a really good point about reaching a “saturation point” where you can’t absorb new information and stimuli. Instead of just moving ahead and not really appreciating what’s around you, it’s best to recognize this and take a break to refresh so that you can fully take in where you are.

    Sounds like you’ve created a good system of balancing exploration days with down days. With children, I imagine it’s even more important to have time to relax so that everyone stays excited and energetic.

    @Stephen: Glad you’re enjoying some relaxation in Sumatra before returning to the States. It’s always wonderful visiting family and friends, but we often call these visits “rock star tours” because we’re in a different bed and city almost every night trying to visit everyone spread out throughout the East Coast.

    We have lots more on Bangladesh coming in next weeks. Hope to be able to shed some light on this rather unknown country (hint: it’s very different from India) and also offer some practical travel advice for the country (since there’s not a lot of that either). Been going through photos and trying to collect our thoughts. Keep checking back!

  28. says

    “Rock Star Tour” I might have to steal.

    The “Stephen Lioy US Summer Tour” has a nice ring to it, I think. Look forward to more Bangladesh popping up in my Rss!

  29. john says

    I was just reading your blog. In early sept I am heading to Bali to start and beyond. Since I’ve never crossed oceans before in travel. I was hoping you can give me some tips! regarding rentals ,native culture, and perhaps direct me to anyone heading to Bali about the same time. Traveling in pairs, is safer. But as I’m to stay more than a few months I understand if its just a vaction.Would also like to travel all over the world at some point, but lacking a travel partner it becomes harder.
    Because I dont need to work anymore this has become a life adventure , of exploration and self discovery…Can’t ask for anymore.
    So if you have any tips ,I would appreciate them very much!

  30. says

    @John: Sounds like you’re about to head out on quite an adventure! Fortunately, Bali is quite safe so even if you’re a solo traveler you shouldn’t have trouble with safety. And, it’s quite a social place so you’ll likely meet locals and other travelers easily during your trip, especially if you start going to events and classes.

    My suggestion with an apartment is to wait until you get to Bali and then start asking around. Sometimes you’ll even see signs posted at cafes for short-term accommodation. Ubud is a nice place to be still for a while – it has lots of cafes, good social life, yoga, beautiful scenery (rice fields) around, and can be affordable. If you want the beach, then try Sanur or just travel around to towns and beaches until you find a place you like.

    I’m not sure of your particular interestes, but here’s an article with some suggestions of things to do on the island: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/05/bali-holiday-week/

    Food in Bali – we find food is always a great way to meet locals: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/07/bali-food/

    Another good resource for Bali is TravelFish. The owners live in Bali and the information is reliable: http://www.travelfish.org/region/indonesia/bali and http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/bali/

    Good luck and enjoy your trip!!

  31. says

    Hi Dan and Audrey,

    I’ve just started following you recently (among the many travel writers and bloggers I follow :) – and I was just catching up on some of your old posts

    I like this post, and enjoy reading through the comments. While I am not on the same boat as you (RTW travellers), I quit last year and travelled from time to time, and I recall spending one whole month in Bali and feeling exhausted from moving around(“you get fatigue in Bali?” – oh I did!), so I ended up changing my plan and stay in Ubud and did a whole lot of nothing. A holiday within a holiday indeed.

    So yes, a break is always needed, even if your life is one big giant holiday (at least to most people!) :) I’ve been enjoying your twitter feeds so far! Safe travels!

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