Holiday with a burn-out it is possible

Going on holiday with five people was always quite a happening. With great enthusiasm we booked a campsite in France in March, and then camped there for a week or two or three in the summer.  We had: a tent, 3 small children, poor sleep, and a long trip ahead. So, there was no question of really resting. But that didn’t matter, we were together as a family, everyone had a good time, and it was just a party.

The week of skiing in February was also of a similar level. Together we go to France and spend a few days together with the rest of the (in-laws) family. Although we came back quite tired, we liked it and had a good time.

Here, too, the burnout threw quite a spanner in the works. Our whole way of celebrating holidays had to be changed. Because of my fatigue, I could hardly do anything anymore. So, camping, skiing, restless nights, etc.dat I couldn’t possibly bear. But we didn’t know how to do it.

Unfortunately, I experienced this the hard way. I hope that by reading this, you make wiser choices.

Own experience

After half a year of burnout and some energy again, we went to a campsite in France. We had booked a beautiful, new mobile home, 700km from home in a quiet area. A good idea on paper.  No tent, not so far from home and a pleasant climate.


But that turned out completely differently.

The outward journey was already too much. After 2 hours of driving (around Liège) my body started to mutiny.  I had a full panic attack with sweating, stress, palpitations and you name it, terrible. My wife took over driving, but I couldn’t figure it out.  On my last gums we drove to the campsite. I thought, when we’re there, I can recover. Once at the campsite it turned out that we were in the middle of no where and it rained all day.  With 3 teenagers in a small mobile home and rain all day, that was a huge task. I couldn’t handle the stress, the crowds, and everything that came with it. We went back to the Netherlands after 4 days; I just couldn’t afford it.


Disappointed and with a feeling of shame, I spent the rest of the summer holidays.


I discussed this painful experience with my psychologist. She was only proud of me…. Proud???

Yes, she told me that I had done something I had never done before: listened to myself. Of course, this did not deserve a beauty prize, but in a special way I chose for myself.


She saw that as positive (I didn’t at the time…)



My psychologist advised me to take the whole trip as a case study. To see: what went wrong, why and what we could be done about it.


She advised me to describe the experience and then analyze it per component. I have split each day into 4 parts, morning, morning, afternoon and evening. And then just write down what happened and what didn’t go well.


Here’s how I did it:



……. morning

….at 12

…… afternoon

…… evening

Thursday morning

After 2 hours of driving, panic in Liège



Thursday afternoon

After Liège we drove on to be at the campsite as soon as possible

After Nancy the highway turned out to be a provincial road, journey took a very long time

On arrival the mobile home turned out to be very small and I was very overstimulated

Friday morning

It’s raining and I have a huge stomachache (from the stress)

Friday at 12

Everyone is going to the indoor pool, but I’m panicking

Friday afternoon, I still feel very scared and vulnerable. I’m exhausted

Friday evening

Have slept very badly and feel like I’m in the wrong place.

Saturday morning

After a restless night we want to go to Epinal, visit market.


However, that is 65 km away, so quite far


Arrival in Epinal and I have another relapse. Second panic attack in 2 days, that’s not good.


I sit in a church in Epinal so that the rest can shop.

We drive back to the campsite and in the evening, I start crying

Saturday evening

I’m totally exhausted and lost. Don’t get out of the panic and ask myself why I am here.

Wants to go to Nijmegen, to Home!!!










As you can read a very unpleasant experience.


By doing this, I was initially able to write off the entire journey and give this (slightly) traumatic experience a place. I could also start to wonder why this was the case. What was bad about the situation and what had to be changed next time.


I then started to analyze each block separately. So, then I got:


Day described 


Feeling about it

Is the feeling right

What would have been smarter

 After Nancy the highway turned out to be a provincial road, journey took a very long time





Very disappointed and anxious. Will I manage to do that and how long will this take?

Yes, the feeling is right, it is indeed a long provincial (f*cking) road to the Vosges

We should have been out of the situation for a while. Stop somewhere, get some energy and then travel in peace.


I’ve done this with every part. In the end, this gave me very important insights into why I could not handle this way of celebrating holidays.


It also resulted in a stunning number of (simple) adjustments, so that the holidays afterwards came out better.


I’m going to describe that further below.





Which themes had to be different and in what form.


In the end, I came to the:


  • distance
  • accommodation
  • location
  • press me
  • vulnerability
  • repair


So, all factors that had to be different, to have a nice holiday.


  • Distance

With a burnout is driving a car and a very big attack. I couldn’t imagine that I would be so bothered by that. I had to limit driving with a burnout for the time being (also read the Theme on the Road, further on). The number of stimuli was still far too much.

So, the distance had to be limited. Up to a maximum of 45 minutes / an hour. I could afford that, without having a total panic attack.


  • Accommodation

It was very important to have an accommodation in which I felt good. So, no tent with air mattresses, or that if it rained half of the stuff would get wet, or too much trouble from noisy neighbors. No, I had to have peace and privacy. As low-stimulus as possible.


  • Location

Basically, everything that made France fun, I couldn’t stand. So, the slow, unpredictable, foreign language, eating differently, the Carrefour the weather etc. So, we ended up in only 1 place in the world where none of that was: the Netherlands. Just safe.


  • Press me

As the leader of the family, my family was quite dependent on me. Taking care of technical problems in a tent, whether the gas is up, or how do we get to Epinal etc. …. put a lot of pressure on me. That was not a problem for the burnout, but not doable now. So, we had to look for a place, without these kinds of technical problems.


We also wanted a place where the other family members, apart from me, could go out. So that they could go to a market themselves or to a watchtower themselves, you name it.


  • Vulnerability

I really had to realize that I was sick. That a burnout made me very vulnerable. And that I had to take that into account.

As indicated, the bun-out made me feel (literally) sick from the stress. I had to take this behavior of my body into account during a holiday


  • Repair

I was, of course, engaged in a recovery process. Falling out in January, made sure that I had some energy again in July, but was far from there yet. So, I also had to make sure that a holiday did not get in the way of the recovery process.

That I could occasionally withdraw, write a little, think, lie in the bath, shower etc.  So, we had to take that into account as well.


In the end, we concluded:

Initially stay in the Netherlands, preferably in a house somewhere in a quiet area where there is a little bit of activity: that was Drenthe, and then in such a Landal park. We booked a 6-person cottage. Which was bigger than necessary, but I had the space to retreat and catch my breath.


We tried that out during spring break. That worked fine. Almost all points from the analysis were met.



We filled in the holidays afterwards in a similar way. We sat down in my brother-in-law’s house in the summer. On the outskirts of Amsterdam (Sniep). With basically the same rules as described above. That worked fine


Our last holiday at the Reeuwijkse plassen was of a similar nature. Rented a cottage, within a reasonable distance of Nijmegen in the Netherlands etc.


With good courage we also went to a hotel a few times. Both in Breda and in Zwolle. But that was not a success. I still suffered from the pressure, shortage, noise and the fact that I could not isolate myself.


What did work was a B&B. We have, this spring, been in a B&B near Weesp. That was behind a farm, where the owner had converted the stables into bedrooms. There I felt no pressure, stress, noise etc. But the peace and quiet that belonged to the environment. I really liked it.


With the experience gained, my confidence in holidays has returned. I know well what works and what doesn’t. And where I need to take measures.

Next summer we will go to Paris. That will be a real test case for me. We booked a cottage there (from acquaintances) outside the city with enough space and possibilities to meet my needs.

Although I find it exciting (it is not Drenthe, and the distance is a thing) I am going to try it. And trusting that I can do that…

What is positive?

The moment you are in a house, you can go and see how taxable you are. Can you already go to the village or not? Are you going to go shopping with us? For example, if the children are in the pool, you can read or do something else for yourself. I thought it was positive to discover that I could still participate in that way.



  1. Consult with those with whom you are going on holiday, how you are going to approach this. Test your expectations together.
  2. Stay in the Netherlands. Here everything is close by, recognizable and therefore less stressful.
  3. Choose as much comfort and TRANQUILITY as possible.
  4. Choose an accommodation where you can withdraw.
  5. Go with as few people as possible and preferably with people who are close to you.
  6. Leave group travel aside for a moment.
  7. Active holidays (hiking, retreats, etc.) that is still too early
  8. City trips that are still too intense
  9. Holidays, “looking for yourself” etc. are you resistant to that? Maybe not
  10. Provide an escape. That you can go home in need. That’s a shame, but nice if possible.

Don’t give up!!

The story about the Vosges really happened and I thought: this is not going to be okay anymore. The last summer holiday we spent 2 weeks in the Reewijkse plassen near Rotterdam. Drove straight through Rotterdam by car, no problem.

So it’s about!!

In short: going on holiday with a burnout is possible, but on condition that it does not cost too much energy and that there is an escape.

And above all that you are honest. To yourself and also to your environment.

 Otherwise, I would advise you to stay at home and make day trips from here.