Why does travelling tire you out?


I was a passenger in an almost 4 hour car tourney the other day, and by the end of it I was exhausted. Yet I can easily sit at a desk or in a chair for 4 hours at home doing the same things (listening to music, scrolling tiktok, social media, flash cards) and not feel nearly as exhausted. Why?

In: 21

Social interactions tire you out. Recording new memories to your brain-bank tires you out. It is the same with everybody.

When you sit in a moving vehicle, you don’t realize it, but you’re constantly using your body muscles to keep yourself sitting straight up.

The car turns to the left, your body uses muscles to stay upright so that you don’t lean to the right.

Like, if there was a ball on the floor of your bus, and the bus turned left, the ball would roll to the right. Right?

Well YOU don’t want to roll all around the inside of the vehicle, so you unconsciously use all kinds of muscles just to keep sitting in that spot without falling over.

At the end of a long drive … all that energy you spent on those muscles really adds up, and you’re tired!

Your body has a fairly passive mode for when a situation is not new or important and an active mode for when a situation is new or important.

Humans evolved as hunter/gatherers. Every time you go someplace new your body is alert for danger and food. Your senses are on full alert and your brain examines everything. Your body is not in fight or flight mode but is in an elevated state ready to act.

This is why driving someplace seems to take longer than driving home. On the drive home the places are no longer new so you are not in the same active mode.

This is also why some people are exhausted by social interactions and things like parties. They are on alert for danger in the form of making social mistakes, so they exhaust themselves with their alertness.

Three very different responses, all of which seems entirely plausible. I love the internet.

For many years of my life I worked as a sailor. The first days to weeks onboard, even sometimes after you’ve become very experienced, you’ll get tired faster because you move inefficiently, the movement of the vessel is erratic to you and it takes you time to adjust. This is called getting your sealegs. After you get used to this motion, it’s just like any other job and you move in a manner that compensates for the extra movement of the vessel.

In all travel, be it via airplane, bus, boat or even bicycle you’ll work harder than you need to even just sitting there doing nothing as you’ll constantly be making unnecessary micro adjustments. Some are required to stop you from falling over, but the vast majority aren’t. This tires you faster than you would expect, and consequently you don’t realise that you’ve done exceptionally more work than you would have done in a situation you’re more accustomed to.