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Shaky Ground and Travel Fatigue – Picton, New Zealand

The ferry from Wellington to Picton took three hours and it was a scenic trip passing through the Cook Channel and many small islands clinging underwater to the mainland.  It was overcast and chilly but I spent a lot of time on the deck admiring the views.

Earthquakes in Picton

Clearly unaffected by the earthquakes here in Picton.

Clearly unaffected by the earthquakes here in Picton.

Soon after I arrived at my hostel, I visited the Picton Cemetery, and then off to a cafe in the tiny waterfront area.  Soon into my meal, the ground shook.  An earthquake, recorded as a 6.4, had hit.  And before my lunch was over, at least three aftershocks had my nerves rattled.  Growing up in San Francisco, I am no stranger to earthquakes, and I used to think they were pretty fun.  After living through the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, which was scary as hell, I am a bit more fearful.  Fortunately, this earthquake did no serious damage and was just exciting.

My hostel here in Picton is luxurious as hostels go.  I haven’t had a roommate in my dorm room for the last four nights and that is a luxury that does not go unappreciated.  For several days, it’s been raining and the ground continues to move every few hours.  This is about as much excitement as I can take.

A Revelation about Long Term Travel

This looks just about right.

This looks just about right.

After being sick last week (recovered now) and stuck inside for several days due to rain, I have realized how tired I am.  And now I am realizing that in this new life of mine, where I hope to travel for as long as possible, it is a necessity to do nothing once in awhile.  Lately, I don’t want to go anywhere, do anything, meet anyone, or discover a new sight.  I simply need time to do nothing but watch crappy reality shows and read crappy tabloids with a cup of tea in hand, wooly socks and a blanket.

Yes, it seems like a travesty to do nothing in some exotic location, but I am not on vacation, soon to return to a quiet home.  This is my life.  And I realize now, after nearly six months of non-stop traveling that I can not sustain the level of excitement that one does when on a two week vacation.

In the last six months I have slept in over 100 beds.  I wake up every morning with a sort of amnesia – Where am I?  What month is it?  What day is it?  Sometimes it takes me several minutes to figure out the answers to these questions.  I’m a bit scrambled.  And planning everyday for the next day takes more energy than I imagined it would.


I will have to miss some things. I have to slow down.

Nora Dunn, who writes a great travel blog called The Professional Hobo, wrote an article on Travel Fatigue and it resonated with me.  Coincidentally she suggests that travel fatigue usually sets in at about six months.  Bingo!  Her solution is to travel slowly, and house-sit or volunteer for months at a time.  I like that idea.

So moving forward, I am slowing down and accepting that I can not see everything and do everything. One of many lessons I am sure I will learn on his odyssey.  And on that note, I plan to move on to Christchurch tomorrow. 🙂


  1. You definitely reach a point where you say “I don’t give a shit about ” and prefer to have a coffee and people watch instead. I’ve always preferred that. In SE Asia, it’s “No more temples!!” although you have to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Indonesia is recommended. If you fail to appreciate something that should be appreciated it’s time to slow it down.

    • Just taking six days to rest in Picton and not *see* anything did me wonders.

  2. Travel fatigue makes sense. New Zealand, with no language barrier, might be a good spot to slow down for a few days (or weeks) and “settle in.” House-sitting, volunteering or some sort of daily task sounds like a good remedy to immerse yourself without over-exertion. Let us know if you can find something like that. Its probably crucial to re-energizing and extending your travels. Good luck!

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