A beach on the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.

If you read the title of this post and were confused, because, after all, it seems strange, or even illogical to take a vacation when you’re already on one… well, you’re not wrong to be scratching your head. But bear with me, because I actually am making the point that sometimes, we need to take holidays within our holidays.

You see, for long-term travelers – that is, people traveling for months or even years on end – travel isn’t always the relaxing, restful experience you might envision. If anything, it’s the opposite – hectic, stressful, and sleepless – since a lot of travelers are intent on seeing as much as possible, are constantly planning the next phase of their trip, and are often doing physically grueling activities (hiking, for example).

All of this, combined with the constant sightseeing (another temple! More ruins! Yet another museum!) can really wear you down. Not just physically but psychologically too – somehow all those amazing things you’ve traveled across the world to see aren’t as mind-blowing as you’d expected. You find yourself before an ornate palace or a breathtakingly complex ancient structure and give it a cursory glance. Important historical artifacts start to seem as interesting as an instruction manual for an electric toothbrush. In essence, your interest in what you’re seeing has dwindled to that of a bored child being dragged along to the symphony by its parents.

Traveling like this – when it’s lost the magic – seems like such a waste. But the good news is that there’s a really simple and effective way of reigniting your passion for travel and getting the magic back. Which brings us back to the title of this post: if you want to rekindle the spark, you simply need to take a vacation from your vacation.

You know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? It’s not only true of relationships – the same principle applies to travel. So whenever you feel yourself losing the lust for travel and nothing seems to resolve it, put your “travel” plans on hold and make some “vacation” plans. For me, this means long days spent relaxing on a beach with a good book – but it could be just about anything for you. Lots of studies suggest that we as human beings are programmed to relax when we are surrounded by nature, so spending time fishing by a lake, or observing the wildlife on a nature reserve could be good ways to recharge.

If you’re planning a long trip, I actually suggest building these “mini-vacations” into your plans – perhaps once every three months (or whatever amount of time you can go before getting restless), factor in a week of “downtime”. The reason I suggest thinking about this in advance is that you might see on your map a great island, national park or other relaxing locale that’s close to where you’ll be at a given point in your trip, and you can plan to spend your vacation-within-a-vacation someplace amazing. You’re hardly sacrificing a week of your trip if you spend it enjoying an incredible resort town instead.

I promise, after your break, you’ll be refreshed, re-energized and itching to get back to your travel plans.

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