Where to go when you’re burnt out and really need a win?

Back in 2013, I was a young grad working in a dead-end company, I got fed-up one day and on impulse booked a trip to Japan. I didn’t even bother asking any friends as I just wanted to get out and it takes ages to coordinate. This ended up being a life-changing 5-week first-time solo trip that took me all over Japan. It was the first time in my life that I felt like the only person I had to make happy was myself. Not friends, not family, not anyone else. This trip seriously changed my life. By 2014, I’d quit my job, moved out to a new city and started a PhD in something I was passionate about.

Even though it was a really rewarding time and I did have a lot of fun, I didn’t travel much during my PhD as I always felt this guilt for delaying my thesis. I graduated in 2019, but I was low on savings so I didn’t end up traveling much that year as well. But I had an epic European solo trip planned for 3 months in summer 2020. It would start with a conference in France in June and ending with a close friends wedding in Italy in September. COVID messed that all up ofc. It was devastating, I even lost all my saved up leave as I changed jobs in 2020 .

Even though I have no regrets about my PhD, I was pretty burnt out after it, and I had lot riding on that Europe trip. I actually moved to a new country in 2019 too. Fast forward 3 years to 2022 and I’ve had a pretty tough time here and some extremely bad luck with horrible relationships, toxic friend groups and a pretty unfriendly even hostile society . If I was burnt out before, it’s chronic now. I took a few weeks off work last month, but felt so much inertia nd tiredness that I didn’t even go anywhere. Like on one-hand I’m too exhausted to research or plan anything, but on the other hand I so desperately need a win that I don’t want to risk winging it or finding a travel partner.

I managed to work through this enough to book a trip for 2-weeks to the UK . Nothing too ambitious, just museums, a decent amount of hiking and scenic train rides, some of my favourite solo activities. Just easing back into travel. I was actually kinda excited again? I was meant to leave last night… but I got COVID a few days before my trip and I’m still in isolation. Delaying wasn’t an option for a number of reasons, so I cancelled everything. Physical effects aside, this is a pretty heavy blow mentally. Definitely breaking point for me, so I’ve asked work for a 1-year unpaid sabbatical. My managers are supportive, so it should just be a formality.

I’m at a loss about what to do. I wish I could go back to Japan and repeat 2013. I don’t think long tours are for me, so where can I go solo for a solid win without expending too much effort on planning/getting around? If anyone else has been in a similar headspace, where did you that got you excited to go out on your own again? I’m not sure what I should do first, but I’m tossing up between chilling on a beach and just doing nothing for a while; going to a city with friendlier people and just hangout there for a month or so to figure out my sabbatical ; go somewhere with immense natural beauty. Appreciate any advice or experiences you can share.

TLDR: Burnout and had so many setbacks that its hard motivate myself to travel. What are some low risk / high reward solo-friendly destinations for a solid win to get back into travel and get the hang of it again?

Where to go when you’re burnt out and really need a win?