“It seems very hard to impress you,” the owner of the hotel that was graciously hosting me said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It seems to me that the extraordinary has become your ordinary”, she said.
Meaning about Beauty Burnout, but I couldn’t realize that at that moment.
Her words really affected me. She was going out of her way to show me a local point of interest, but I must have appeared bored, unfazed. And that’s never how I want to appear to someone trying to share something with me.
Could I have been distracted? Tired? Hungry even? It’s possible. But as her words bounced around my head for the next few days, I realized what the problem was.
I was suffering from Beauty Burnout.
I had barely had time to process some of the scenery I had experienced in the Azores before setting off for Iceland, a country equally as beautiful but in a completely different way.
The Azores are islands formed by volcanic eruptions. The sea crashing onto the almost black cliffs created some dramatic scenes:
But Iceland has its own stunning scenery:
Both islands have phenomenal, interesting wildlife. I was able to witness whales during my time on the Portuguese islands.
And on the tiny Nordic nation, I snuck up on puffins hanging off cliffsides.
In the Azores, I hiked to the bottom of a caldera, a crater left after an eruption that leads to the collapse of the volcano’s mouth.
In Iceland, we hiked some of the greenest fields I’ve ever seen and drank pure glacier water straight from rivers and streams.
After these back-to-back experiences, both amazing and different and beautiful beyond words in their own ways, I was experiencing a beauty burnout. I needed a break, from nature trips anyway.
I should have booked a museum trip or perhaps done some city walks, something different than seeing more incredible nature because the last thing I’d ever want to see is boring, uninterested, or even worse–rude.
But this isn’t the first time I’ve burned out. I remember sitting with a friend on a beach in Goa, India, watching the sun go down. “Isn’t it gorgeous here?” he asked. “Eh, I’ve seen better beaches,” I said, without thinking how awful it sounded.
At times, I’ve thought that if I can’t be in the moment and truly enjoy where I’m at and recognize how fortunate I am, then maybe it’s time to pack it up and head home. I’ve been on the road for more than three years– burnout is a real possibility.
But I don’t feel burnt out on traveling. The only thought that sounds worse than seeing more of the same is returning home and finding an office job.
So I’ll switch it up. I’ll alternate nature trips with downtime and find new inspiration on history and architecture trips. I’ll make an effort to vary my types of trips so someone will never have to make a remark similar to the one the guesthouse owner laid on me that day.
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Is Beauty Burnout a real thing? Can you have too much of a good thing? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.