Home Sick Why Taking a Vacation Can Actually Make You More Tired

Traveling is a tiring ordeal. Even before the trip is exhausting; you stress out making sure every detail is perfect, stay up all night the night before packing and running around to make sure you have everything. Next, you get up early, wait forever at the airport, try to sleep to no avail on the plane, and then wait forever at a different airport first for your bags and then for your ride. At last, the fun part comes. You get to do all of the exciting things you planned, try new things and see new places. Maybe you relax by the pool or get a much-needed spa day. You probably don’t get much actual sleep because of all the activities you during the day and the dinners and parties you go to at night. Then, it’s back to packing and running around in the airport trying to catch your flight on time with more sleepless plane rides and more wait times once you finally get back to your home airport. Even though you had a blast and spent at least a little time relaxing, you come home feeling exhausted. Too exhausted, most likely, to unpack the day you get back. Sure, you’re still reveling at how great your trip was and you tell everyone what a good time you had, but that tired, jet-lag feeling lingers. If you’ve ever wondered why you’re so tired after a vacation(even after just reading a bunch of reasons), here’s the science behind it.

Missing Sleep
If you’re too excited to go to sleep the night before or just too busy to go to bed early, you’re already setting yourself up to be tired on the plane ride. During the trip, you’re sleeping in an unfamiliar place which can also make it hard to fall asleep as you would during your usual routine. A lot of activities start early in the morning, too, which makes you lose out on even more z’s. The best tip to get enough rest would be to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Your body will adjust easier if you go to bed and wake up at the time you usually do. Making the hotel feel more like home will help you relax a bit more.

The Plane Ride
Is it hard for you to sleep on a plane? For most of us, it is. The pressure is one major factor in why we’re so uncomfortable. The air is thinner(almost like you’re up high in the mountains) which makes it harder to breathe. This, in turn, makes us feel a little brain fog. This fuzziness continues to follow some off the plane as well. Another big reason that you’ve probably heard of is that flying makes us dehydrated because of the humidity(which alone can make us uncomfortable). Not moving for long periods of time isn’t good for our bodies, either. If you’re visiting somewhere with a different time zone, add jet lag to the list. All of these factors add up to fatigue which is probably the first thing all of us do when we get to our hotel is flop onto the bed. Simple steps to ease the discomfort and fatigue are to stay hydrated(avoiding alcohol and caffeine as both tend to make you even more dehydrated), eat a balanced meal low in fat, and stretch and do in-seat exercises.

Many different aspects of traveling are stressful. From planning to the costs it can rack up and even stressing out during the trip for various reasons(lost luggage, staying on schedule, being in a new place), travel in and of itself is a stressful endeavor.

Being on the Go
A lot of us suffer from FOMO(fear of missing out) while on vacation. We want to see everything there is to see and experience as much of our destination as possible. While this is great in theory, too much activity and not enough rest in between can really tire us out. To counteract any after-activity exhaustion, space out your adventures so you have breaks where you can take a nap if you need to and get a healthy bite to eat. Or, focus on one or two must-dos a day so you have the rest of the day to enjoy a nice meal or do some light shopping and relax. Basically, just don’t overdo it and make sure you’re not missing out on meals or rest. You’ll be able to enjoy everything a lot more if you have energy.

Eating Out Too Much
While eating enough on a vacation is important, you don’t want to eat too much or waste your time on empty calories. Junk food makes you feel gross and heavier foods(like pasta, for instance), can make you tired. Eat a nutrient-rich breakfast, pack healthy snacks( e.g. nuts, and fruit) and eat what you’d like for dinner without going all out. Maybe request half of it to be boxed before you eat or drink lots of water and fill up on veggies before the meal.

Dionne Evans

Dionne Evans, the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of HBS, is a graduate from Marymount Manhattan College with a BA in Communication Arts. She has been a professional writer for over 7 years and loves everything food, beauty, and travel related. For more information on Dionne, visit:

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