If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, whether by road or by air, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of being utterly and completely exhausted once you reach your destination. While it can seem like you’re imagining things, travel fatigue is, in fact, an actual problem. There are several factors that can cause you to feel drained by travel.
Here are 5 reasons why traveling is so tiring:
- Vehicle movement can cause stress on your body and mind.
- The change in altitude.
- Flying has negative effects on your health.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Hectic travel itineraries.
The rest of this article will examine these reasons in greater detail, so you can come up with strategies to combat travel fatigue.
1. Vehicle Movement Can Cause Stress on Your Body and Mind
As anyone who has ever been on the road will be able to tell you, cars and buses accelerate and decelerate, changing speeds to match the flow of traffic. As a result of this movement, as well as other parts of road travel, like turns, your body moves along with the car.
While you’re likely not aware of it, this movement causes stress on both your body and your mind. The brain needs to constantly account for how your body is moving so you stay balanced while on your seat.
This mechanism is similar to the one that causes standing to be more tiring than walking and results in your body expanding a lot of energy. It is also the reason race car drivers need to train themselves and stay in shape – at the speeds they drive, they need to be able to handle the stress on their bodies.
While the impact of the vehicular movement is not as easily identifiable when you fly as opposed to when you travel by road, it is still present. When on a plane, your body needs to deal with turbulence, rolling, vibrations, and more, all of which result in stress to your body and play a part in tiring you out.
2. The Change in Altitude
When you fly, your body needs to first adjust to the change in altitude. The pressure in airplane cabins is calibrated to make this easier on your body. However, even taking into account the cabin pressure, your body still needs to adapt itself to being at heights that are unnatural for you.
3. Flying Has Negative Effects on Your Health
Flying is not just stressful on the body due to the plane’s movement, it can also impact your health. This can, in turn, result in you feeling tired when you disembark from an airplane. Some of the ways in which this happens include:
- Dehydration: Half of the air circulating within the cabin is pulled from the air outside the plane. This air is much drier than that at lower altitudes, which can dry out your skin and result in you feeling dehydrated and thirsty. The dryness of the cabin air also plays a part in causing airplane food to taste unpleasant.
- Bloating: Pressure changes in the plane cabin result in gases inside your stomach and intestines expanding, which results in you feeling bloated and like you have indigestion.
- Stress on the ears: Another way the change in pressure impacts your body is by stressing your ears. The pressure in your ears changes to adjust to the cabin pressure and the rapid changes during takeoff and landing make it worse. The stress to your ears also contributes to motion sickness, which increases the strain on your body, making you feel even more tired.
4. Sleep Deprivation
Think of the last time you traveled – how well did you sleep the night before? Not only do you need to rush to finish last-minute packing, but you are probably also planning your itinerary for when you arrive at your destination and may have responsibilities at home you need to wrap up.
If you’re traveling late at night or early in the morning, the chances of you running low on sleep intensify. Additionally, when flying, passengers are often given the recommendation that they should reach the airport early, as they need to check in and may have to deal with queues. Even domestic carriers suggest you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your departure.
Even when it is for as little as a single night, sleep deprivation can cause you to feel tired and irritable in the morning. Combined with the other mentioned factors, you are more likely to feel the effect of the lack of sleep once you reach your destination and have the opportunity to catch up on your rest.
To help counteract jet lag, there are new travel apps that can help. Learn more about the options in this article.
5. Hectic Travel Itineraries
Aside from feeling travel fatigue on the way to a destination, you also feel such fatigue when you’re returning home. Additionally, fatigue can hit harder when you’re returning home than when you’re traveling away from home.
One of the reasons for this difference is that many of us tend to have hectic schedules when traveling. During vacations, we try to fill up our days with sightseeing and enjoying the area we are visiting. When traveling for work, days are full of client meetings and other work responsibilities.
We even overschedule ourselves when traveling to meet family and friends, as we want to get the most out of our time with them. This also means that we often don’t get as much sleep while away from home compared to how much sleep we get when at home.
All of these factors increase the stress our bodies are under. When we finally get home, we feel the stress of the actual trip, as well as that of all the events we were part of. These combine to result in your body needing to take time to recover, which can be seen as travel fatigue.
There is one key thing you can do to help avoid this issue and we’ve talked about it here.
While some of the reasons for travel fatigue are an inherent part of travel, it is possible to reduce the severity. Before you travel, make sure you’re fully packed well in advance and have gotten a fun night’s sleep.
Additionally, if you have control over your itinerary, make sure that you build in enough time to rest and recharge so you don’t stress your body too much. However, you will still likely require some time to recover from travel fatigue due to the toll that vehicular travel takes on your body.
- Coastal Podiatry Associates: What’s Worse: Standing On Your Feet For An Hour Or Walking For An Hour?
- Business Insider: Why food tastes different on planes
- Delta: Check-In Times at U.S. Airports
- NHS: Why lack of sleep is bad for your health
- Science ABC: Travel Fatigue: Why Does Traveling Tire You Out?
- Auburn University: Evaluation of Whole-Body Vibration and Ride Comfort in a Passenger Car
- Defense Technical Information Center: Stresses of Flight during Aeromedical Transport: An Integrated Review
- Clemson University: Analysis of In-Flight Vibration for a Turbo Propeller Aircraft
- Flight Fud: Travel Fatigue Explained: Signs, Symptoms & Causes
- Cleveland Clinic: 6 Ways Airplane Travel Affects Your Body + How You Can Prepare
- Quora: Fatigue: Why do people get tired while traveling?