Lessons Learned: How to Avoid Travel Burnout

A very patient elephant gives me his leg to help me mount up. Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury, Laos.

When preparing for a trip, it’s instinctual to plan a full schedule in order to get the most out of your journey. This crammed itinerary may look good on paper but could come back to haunt you in the end. Even if you only have a week of time available to travel, it may not be ideal to pack those 7 days full of sightseeing and things to do.

I’ve noticed that the longer I travel and the more I do, the less I appreciate things later in the trip (especially if I am not taking care of myself). Travel fatigue, or the correlation between appreciation and exhaustion, is a common occurrence among many travelers. After traveling for a long time, or packing a ton of activities into a small amount of time, people find themselves going through the motions without fully appreciating what it is they are doing or seeing.

The more shitty you feel, the less fun you’ll have. Period.

By understanding your limits and knowing how to pace yourself, you can get more of what you set out for in the first place: enjoyment! On my most recent 8-month trip around South East Asia, I covered over 23,000 miles while visiting 50+ cities. It was amazing to see and do so much but it was an uphill battle trying to stay fresh in order to take pleasure in everything. Here are 4 lessons I learned that will help keep you going, seeing and doing as much as possible while still loving every second of it.

1) Sleep is king

Nothing wears you out like frequent travel and no amount of coffee or Red Bull can make up for not getting a proper night’s rest. When flying, studies have shown that your body can take a full day to recover for each hour spent in the air. This means that a 7 hour flight could take your body a FULL WEEK to recover. One way to speed this recovery time up is to make sure to sleep 8-9 hours a night and hydrate properly. The longer you travel the more you realize that your energy is finite. Scheduling enough time to sleep will keep a smile on your face and provide you with enough oomph to adapt to and enjoy all that you are doing and seeing.

Scheduling sleep time is the easy part but ensuring good, quality sleep is a different story. Make earplugs and eye masks essential packing items and try to lay off of the booze as it can cause a restless night. I know too well how easy it is to have a few with new friends and stay up late on a trip, but allowing for an occasional relaxing night in makes all the difference later in your travels.

2) Plan downtime

If your itinerary is packed to the brim with sightseeing and activities, chances are you’ll wear yourself out much earlier than you think. To save energy and get the most out of your trip, treat relaxation and downtime as things that need planned. This can be as easy as setting some time out of each day to lay out at the beach or check e-mails in the hotel room. If you have some work to do, plan out time to do this in between activities to let your body rest and reset your mind. Reading and light exercise (going for a swim, or doing a few pushups) are my go-to’s for breaking up a long day of exploring.

3) You can’t see and do everything

It’s normal to feel the urge of wanting to cram as much as you can into your trip. I’m guilty of this on many occasions. The more I travel, the more I realize that quality trumps quantity.

Are you really dead set on visiting your 15th temple in 3 days?

Would you normally be interested in visiting a ceramics museum?

Asking yourself these questions is a useful strategy when worrying about burning yourself out. When cutting out a few activities you aren’t crazy about, you will find yourself better able to enjoy the interesting ones.

4) Remember your initial intentions

So you’re tired, your legs are sore and just about everything anyone says or does annoys you. In a normal situation, you would take some time to yourself to rest and regroup. But alas, you are traveling! Time to power through it and do everything possible… right? Of course not! Why create memories that will have negative feelings attached because you’re worn out and exhausted?

When finding yourself on the verge of collapse, take a second to pause and reflect on your initial intentions of traveling. Was your goal to wear yourself out and half-ass your trip in an agitated state? Probably not. Remembering these intentions will make you slow down and focus on why you set out on your journey. Sometimes relaxing with friends or reading a book in a beautiful setting is what’s most important.

Do you have any other techniques to avoid burning yourself out? Have you incorporated meditation into your routine on the road? Let me know in the comments below! 

Nick Waterhouse is the founder of AirBuds, Ltd. and BackpackingWithaBusiness.com. When not starting new projects, he is exploring far-off lands or making music with his friends. Feel free to contact him at BackpackingWithaBusiness@gmail.com.

Improved Adaptability: Traveling’s Greatest Benefit

by Nick Waterhouse

Long term travel can be just as rewarding as it is challenging – but challenging it is. Constantly moving my body countless miles, usually over rough terrain, definitely takes its toll. I have been backpacking (going going going) for six months now and I am tired. Don’t get me wrong, I am still having a blast and have learned, seen and experienced so much in the 40+ cities I have visited. I have recently been reflecting on this trip and asking myself a lot of questions. What have I gained from traveling for so long? What experiences have stayed with me and changed me? What can I “bring home” with me that will help me improve and accomplish my goals? After all of this pondering, one area of self improvement that stands out is the newfound ability to quickly and seamlessly adapt to new situations.

This improved adaptability isn’t so much convenient as it is necessary while traveling. It is necessary in the fact that in order to get the most out of a small amount of time, I can’t waste energy developing new habits and routines for every place I visit.

Getting settled in is now instinctual.

I usually book a place to stay in advance. Although this can take the fun away from being a complete vagabond, this process introduces me to the geography of a city, insures I will have a good wifi connection and a comfortable place to rest, and saves valuable time and energy. Next, I find a local shop where I can easily buy water and other essentials and I usually don’t shop anywhere else for my entire stay. This eliminates unnecessary decision making so I can save my finite mental energy for more important decisions. If I plan on working while in the city, I find a convenient cafe that serves a cheap breakfast and has a reliable internet connection. Again, saving mental energy and helping me stay in my routine of having a quick breakfast and completing work in the mornings. I then feel out the general layout of a city and the best way to get around (i.e public transportation, biking, walking, etc..). Within a day, I am settled in and my routine is solidified.

Being able to quickly adapt to a new place is essential for staying productive while traveling. Incorporating this skill to my everyday life when returning back home will be awesomely valuable. While I plan on continuing my personal ventures, I will be relocating to a new city and looking for new professional opportunities. I am now confident that I will be able to adjust to a new city, job and living situation in record time. Acclimating to a new work environment will be easier than ever as I am already accustomed to being in new situations constantly. I will be able to get a feel for a new city, pinpointing a neighborhood to live in and staying in my routine without skipping a beat; something I would have had trouble doing without all of the practice I’ve been getting.

Coming home from any long trip can be stressful. Improving your ability to quickly adapt to new situations will increase confidence and eliminate a lot of this stress. I am now excited for what new opportunities await me and am looking forward to continuing my adventure back home.

What are some other benefits of long-term travel? Are there any negatives? Let me know in the comments below! 

Nick Waterhouse is the founder of AirBuds, Ltd. and BackpackingWithaBusiness.com. When not starting new projects, he is exploring far-off lands or making music with his friends. Feel free to contact him at BackpackingWithaBusiness@gmail.com.

The Perfect Place for the Perfect Price: How to Hack AirBnB

by Nick Waterhouse

I have rented AirBnB properties in many different cities all over the world. From wine country abodes in Sonoma to party pads with infinity pools (see above image taken earlier this year) in Thailand, AirBnB has proved a legitimate and affordable way to have all of the amenities of a true home while traveling. Best of all, I have never paid the full listing price for a rental on AirBnB. Whenever I share this fact with other travelers, they are surprised at how easy it can be to rent a great place for less.  Learning the process below will help you find a phenomenal place for an affordable price while helping renters fill vacancies and further develop this amazing community.

Here are 5 items to help easily secure your next cheap rental on AirBnb:

1) Contact hosts as close to arrival date as possible

When looking for the perfect AirBnB property, make sure arrival dates and the number of guests are set correctly as this will filter out the unwanted places and places that aren’t available for the dates of your stay. It is vital for the bargaining process to contact hosts as close to your stay as you are comfortable in doing. This puts pressure on the host to fill the vacant property and also ensures that someone else won’t come along and want to book the property for the full price.

2) Bargain Smartly

Obviously, hosts are going to be hesitant to drop the price for their property for no reason. To begin a conversation, mention that the property and reviews look great but that it is currently out of your price range. Then say how much you would like to spend and ask if the owner has any other properties in that price range. The email will look something like this:

Hello [Insert Host Name]!

I hope all is well!  My name is __________  ( a fellow AirBnB’er) and I will be in [City Name] on Sunday to relax and get work done after a long stint of traveling. Your place looks perfect but it is a bit out of my price range at the moment.

I wanted to reach out and ask you if you had any other properties available during this time that are cheaper/smaller or if you had any suggestions as to where to stay locally. I am looking to spend about $xx USD a night and would only need one bedroom. If your property I am contacting you about remains available, would you be able to lower the price for me? I am a great guest and leave great reviews on AirBnb 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read my message and I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Best Regards,

AirBnB has a great feature that saves the first e-mail you use to contact a seller so for all other available properties, you can contact the host with one click. Don’t be afraid to lowball the original price of the listing and be honest with yourself about your true budget. Always say that the price you mentioned is the maximum you can pay. If the host has another property in your price range, then great! If not, more times than not they will lower their price to meet your needs and fill the vacant property.

3) Use reviews as leverage

As you can see in the template above, I mentioned that I am an experienced AirBnB’er who always leaves great reviews. This will encourage a host to give you the property for your asking price as they know you will leave a positive review in exchange. AirBnB reviews are treated just like any other e-commerce site and positive reviews greatly increase the rental chances of a property. Using a positive review as a bargaining chip can go a long way.

4) Look for great places with no reviews

If you find a new property or a place that seems great with little or no reviews, contact these properties first. Hosts will be much more likely to rent their property for a cheaper price if they are new to AirBnb and want to start generating some reviews and income. The e-mail template above will still work fine but feel free to lower your initial asking price if the place has no reviews.

5) Don’t skip unusually large properties

If a host is offering a very large place, there is a good chance it is rarely rented on AirBnb. Most couples, solo-travelers or families wouldn’t think about contacting a host who is renting an 8 bedroom house. I have been very successful in renting larger places for myself or a very small group. Use the e-mail template above but I would make sure to tell the host that they are welcome to lock x-amount of bedrooms that would not be used. This puts the host at ease by ensuring that you will not be bringing more people than originally mentioned.

These 5 simple tactics have worked wonders for me throughout my travels. Contact as many properties as you can to better your chances to finding that perfect place. Don’t forget that hosts also leave reviews on their guests – so be polite, leave the place spotless and write a kind, constructive and thorough review of the property. Safe travels my friends!

Have you tried these tactics out? Let me know by sharing your story below.

Nick Waterhouse is the founder of AirBuds, Ltd. and BackpackingWithaBusiness.com. When not starting new projects, he is exploring far-off lands or making music with his friends. Feel free to contact him at BackpackingWithaBusiness@gmail.com.

Dialing Up Success From Abroad: Tips from ZipDial CEO, Valerie Wagoner

Nick’s note:

Mikell Hazlehurst is an avid traveler and just finished an MBA exchange program at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. Mikell wrote an in-depth research paper on barriers of entry and strategies of success for expat entrepreneurs in Bangalore. Mikell interviewed Valarie Wagoner, CEO of the mobile marketing platform ZipDial. Soon after this interview, ZipDial was acquired by Twitter. Below is a condensed version of Mikell’s research paper including Valarie Wagoner’s ideas on starting successful companies abroad.


by Mikell Hazlehurst

The amount of aspiring entrepreneurs in places like Silicon Valley is staggering, and a face-to-face meeting with a successful startup CEO would never happen without personal ties (and even that is a stretch). By placing yourself in a small startup ecosystem and adding to the equation that you have “being an expat” in common, I believe that chances of getting the support you need from the local expat community drastically increases.

Regardless of who you are or what you’re doing, the likelihood of success ultimately depends upon your strength of character and an unwavering attitude of persistence. Strategic adaptability is essential for an entrepreneur coming to India to start a business, and the expat entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who can “Think Local”.

For instance, the ability to do business in India requires a willingness to turn constraints into opportunities. Valerie Wagoner, who is the CEO of ZipDial, spent a semester studying in Bangalore at the Indian Institute of Management. Originally hailing from California, Valerie’s Bangalore-based company was just listed on Fast Company magazine as the 8th most innovative company in the world, ranking just behind some of the world’s biggest brands like Nike and Google. Valerie actually gave one of her first demos for ZipDial on the IIMB campus at the N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL). She would go on to explain why starting ZipDial in India was the right move:

“A large, growing domestic market that is a solid foundation for expansion of a unique business model and technology into other emerging markets. Emerging markets in general have a huge amount of opportunity if an entrepreneur is willing to take a long term view and have the stamina to execute, and India is a great place to start for future expansion.”

I then wanted to know what advice Valerie would bestow upon a potential entrepreneur who is interested in starting their business abroad. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs have obtained knowledge the hard way, and it becomes of utmost importance to learn from their mistakes. Valerie was kind enough to share with me to “have a strategy to be global from early on. India is a large, important market, but you should think early about your long-term global expansion and how you build a solid foundation for that. Incorporate outside India, even if you are going to primarily build in India and sell to India. This will make future expansion outside of India more seamless. Raise more money than you think you need earlier than you think you need it (if you can). Do not take for granted the importance of high-quality finance and compliance team members (whether in-house or outsourced). You need to keep this in order from day one to avoid costly headaches later. And don’t underestimate. Be generous with employees about Employee Stock Options, and be ready to educate employees about how they work and why they are important.”

Shortly after returning from India, I found out that ZipDial had been acquired by Twitter. Valerie’s hard work had paid off, and I bet she ended up banking a lot more money because she was able to keep both her business and personal expenses at a minimum. I ended up interviewing several other expats and local VC’s for an article which was used for my final research paper in an independent study course at IIMB.

I spent countless hours running around the city of Bangalore trying to make my meetings on time. All of the entrepreneurs knew each other, and it was an interesting experience for sure. If you’re interested in trying your hand at starting a business abroad, I’d recommend looking into Bangalore for the low cost of living and high availability of cheap talent. One of the entrepreneurs I met with for this project has a company which specializes in finding startup jobs for expats in Bangalore. His name is Troy Erstling, and you can checkout his website at BrainGain.Co.

Getting Started with Long-Term Travel

By Shannon Bradford

How many times have you heard a wistful sigh along with “Man, I wish I could travel the world”? If I had a peso (or a boliviano, or a penny, or a rupee) for every time I heard this, I’d be rich in several countries. Several times over.

Usually upon further probing, it becomes evident that some people don’t know what they want out of their travels. They just want to do it. This is a great starting point, but doesn’t get the majority of people very far along the path of accomplishing long-term travel.

So what’s the deal? If you’re reading this and wanting to start long-term traveling but don’t know where to start or even how to go about it, I’m hoping to pose some questions that might get the metaphorical travel ball rolling right toward the airport.

What do you want out of it? Are you looking to travel as a way to have a vacation-like jaunt in an exotic locale, or do you want to sell your house (and maybe the kids) and get the hell out of dodge? Are you interested in dedicating yourself to a specific cause, or do you want to fling yourself into a tiny town somewhere and work as a bartender for the next year? Do you want to say goodbye to everything you’ve ever known, or just take a little break?

There are more ways to long-term travel than you can shake a hiking stick at, and traveling is a great way to pair disparate life goals, as well. Somebody who has always dreamt of starting a non-profit AND zip-lining through the jungle might find a nice little situation in the mountains of Costa Rica with an English Language School. Inclinations toward filming documentaries + a burning desire to travel the Silk Road = one helluva travel project. The list goes on and on.

There’s a lot of ideas that can set our pulse racing, and that’s one of the reasons we have a lifetime on this planet – plenty of time to do all the things! But in the meantime, for this trip, only you will know your personal limits and desires. How important is comfort and security to you? How important is planning and infrastructure? Do you want a goddamned adventure or do you want some pampering out of it?

There are a lot of in-between points too, so ruminate carefully on this one. Taking a hard look at this, and identifying bare-bone goals (versus what sounds enchanting from the pages of a blog or travel magazine), will really begin to help frame your next trip.

How much money do you have or can you get? Finances aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s important to be realistic about what you have in your bank account. Travel eats up money, and a lot of it. Even budget travel, while vastly more economical than typical tourism techniques, is going to eat a hole in your savings.

Furthermore, plenty of twenty-somethings that are considering the leap into the unknown find themselves strapped with student loans and credit card debt. Every situation is unique, so you’ll need to figure out what sort of savings are necessary in order to continue paying loans while traveling. If you have federal student loans, you can talk with them to lower the payment or even defer for a time. The ideal situation would involve zero debt – and therefore zero worries about payments—but long-term travel is still possible even with monthly payments back home. But when this is the case, preparation becomes paramount.

Continue reading…

Complete Immersion: How Learning to Scuba Dive Can Help Your Professional Life

by Nick Waterhouse

On my recent travels through Thailand I promised myself I’de take on a “No Saying No” attitude – but let’s be real – anyone who has been to Thailand is aware that saying “No” is necessary every once in a while (think Bangkok nightlife). Rather, my goal with this ‘try anything’ mindset was to overcome old fears and fight laziness.

Scuba diving was one of those old fears that it was time to face.

The lessons that I learned when becoming a certified diver have stuck with me and have helped me immensely in my personal and professional life. Here are the takeaways:

1) Don’t be afraid of classroom work

No matter what type of scuba certification you are interested in, classroom work is mandatory. At first, I dreaded this section and wanted to skip straight to swimming with whale sharks and starfish. Looking back, I realize how vitally important this classroom work was to my understanding of scuba. It may have even saved my life (more on that later).

As with anything, learning facilitates growth and sometimes a “learn as you go” philosophy is not enough to stay afloat in any endeavor (pun intended). There is a reason why all scuba certification requires this classroom time. It is essential in the learning process.  Being placed in a dedicated learning setting, free of distractions, I was able to quickly understand the technical side of diving before ever entering the water.

In my professional life, there are always new things to learn about industry, market, competitors or technology. This dedicated classroom time reminded me that learning about new things away from my typical work station can be a productive ‘break’ from my workday and can give me that competitive edge. Just like this portion of my scuba learning was done outside of the water and in a classroom, I realized learning should be done away from my desk and in a different, yet comfortable setting.

There are countless reputable (and cheap) videos and tutorials on just about any subject matter imaginable. Before you start that next project, take some time to learn about the subject matter the old-school way. Take notes, ask questions and test yourself. Who knows? This ‘classroom work’ could mean the difference between a failed campaign and that promotion you’ve been wanting.

2) Take things step-by-step

Tackling a new project always seems daunting in the beginning. Surely learning what a ‘BCD’ was and sizing my scuba mask seemed leagues away from swimming with schools of barracuda. To understand how to enjoy being 30ft+ underwater, I was forced to take the learning step-by-step and only focus on the current task at hand. I wasn’t able to start diving until I learned the ins-and-outs of all my equipment. There was a set series of steps that I had to follow in order to reach my end goal. By not being allowed (or allowing myself) to try things out of order, it was much easier to focus and excel in each small step of the process.

Continue reading…