5 Ways to Combat Travel Boredom

Bored backpacker in hostel

No matter how much you love travelling, there will inevitably be days on any long trip when you’re not quite feeling it. There may be days when you just can’t face the thought of going out and facing the world and doing another set of trips and activities. If you are worried a travel slump might be starting to set in, here’s a handy guest post from Holly Mantle featuring some novel ways to combat travel boredom.

How to Combat Travel Boredom

The problem with travelling is, it’s a nice idea but you often find yourself at 10:00 a.m., sitting in y-fronts on a springy camp bed mattress wondering what on earth you can possibly do to distract yourself from the brain crushing hangover that is about to erupt. Something that doesn’t involve combining hangover + oppressive heat in a combo that will send you straight back to the bar for a slice of recovery pie is usually best.

The tourist information office, with its few lifeless pamphlets fluttering around, stained with wine and sand, doesn’t inspire many feelings of adventure. Neither do ‘things to do lists’ found on the net. So where to turn to when it’s looking like another DVD day in the hotel/hostel’s half-hearted attempt at a social space, whose sofas’ dignity have definitely been downgraded by previous party nights?

First of all, don’t forget that you can’t expect any one place or thing to bring you boundless joy on a plate. Historical monuments are great and all, but they’re hardly laugh-a-minute, are they? The same goes for whale watching, museums and other things you feel like you ‘have to do’ when you’re away. What makes the trip fun is the things you bring to these places. So here are some ideas for things to do to liven up those boring days:

1) If you have other people with you, play the dice game

travel boredom
Dice game via Phil Long, CC BY 2.0

You decide on six different ideas; they have to be a bit wacky, they don’t have to relate to any place in particular and they have to be thought up on the spot.

Whether it’s crab-hunting on a rocky beach or finding the weirdest cuisine sold in the local market – you have to write the ideas down, roll a dice, and go ahead with the choice the dice picks.

2) Flip a Coin

If you’re not sure where to spend the day – go for a wander and let things come to you as you explore the town. Get a coin, decide which side = left and which side = right, flip 5 or 6 times, then record the results.

This will then give you a set of directions to take, and you can see what the new surroundings inspire when you get there (probably the nearest greasy café, but still, at least you went outside).

3) Do something good

work exchange
Volunteering in Costa Rica, CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are able to speak to any residents of the town or city where you’re staying, ask about local soup kitchens, schools where they need English lessons, orphanages or farms where extra hands are welcome.

It may seem like straight-up madness to offer to work while you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself travelling, but you’ll definitely meet new people, remember the experience for the good feeling it brings and possibly learn something new.

4) The phrase book game

This is mostly an evening game, as you’ll probably need wine for extra confidence, and drinking during the day time can’t socially be condoned on the internet without a backlash. If you have at least one friend (or friend-for-the-moment you met last night) and are bored with the same old evenings of sipping watered down beers in beach-front bars, one option is to bring out your battered, forgotten phrase book.

Flip it to a random page, choose the most controversial or potentially embarrassing sentence, and pass it to your friend, who then has to use this phrase within the next 5 minutes. With a human. And with a grave, dead-pan face. This one usually produces some very memorable incidents, particularly if the phrase in question requests something specific that will make the surrounding public dive into stranger-rescue mode.

5) 60 Minute Lock-In Drinking Game

Pint of Beer
A large beer in Bratislava, Slovakia.

If you’re looking for a really, really low budget, low-culture game that provides absolutely no sense of appreciation of your surroundings or the fact you’re in a foreign country at all, there’s one drinking game that should, at the very least, give you a good story.

This lock-in based game involves parting ways, going into respective bedrooms, and drinking a whole bottle of wine (other alcoholic beverages are permitted) within one hour, without engaging with the outside world. Once the 60 minutes are up, you can reconvene and the night can begin. This way, there is little need for expensive bar-based drinking, and you can be sure that your lowered-inhibition self will lead you somewhere interesting!

These are not necessarily the most normal, or fellow-traveller-friendly games, but they might at least brighten up a few hours you would have otherwise spent on Facebook, in your bedroom, avoiding people and paradise.

by Holly Mantle

These ideas for ways to combat travel boredom were last updated in November 2022.

5 Ways to Combat Travel Boredom

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