First of all, know this: It’s normal!
Feeling homesick is sadly a normal part of being in a strange environment, with new people. This being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, if you are not feeling homesick at all when travelling! As humans we all adapt to change differently and deal with it in a variety of ways. It’s what makes us…well, human!
If you are unlucky enough to be struck by the homesickness gremlins, here are some things that you can do to make it easier:
Writing is a great way to express our innermost thoughts and emotions. There is nothing more cathartic than letting all those brain farts you have been storing up, loose on a blank page. The phrase better out than in, came about for a reason. Instead of letting your worries niggle away at you, let them go. A travel journal gives you a safe space to release the negative and also serves as a great reminder of your trip. You will be able to see your overall journey (yes I’m talking personal growth here), and re-live the good, and not so good moments at a later date!
Don’t waste time and energy thinking about what is going on in other parts of the world. Focus on the here and now, you could even make a bucket list for your new location. Spend your time getting to know people around you and building new friendships. Visit incredible places with these new friends and make memories to last a lifetime. I’m by no means saying shut yourself completely off from friends, family and your life back home, but don’t give it all of your attention. Will you have a better day wondering what your bestie is up to, and missing them like crazy, or by heading to the beach with buddies from your hostel?
Mmm… thought so!
There is a fine balance here. You don’t want to be constantly stalking your loved ones on social media, whilst missing out on the here and now (see above point), but you also will find great comfort in having a good old catch up. Sometimes when we are having a tough day, all we need is a friendly chat to pick us right back up again. Staying in touch fairly regularly also has the benefit of making the post travel depression less; you won’t feel like such an alien on your return. If you have been speaking to friends every so often, you will be more up to date with their lives, and be able to acclimatise more easily once your travels eventually come to an end.
We are extremely lucky with todays technology that there are so many ways to keep in touch. Some of the best and free ways are through messaging and/or voice calls on Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and Viber. If you have technophobes in the family take the time before you leave to train them up on using one (or more of these). I did Viber calls with my mum around the house before leaving for Australia. Yes I felt like an idiot, but it gave her the confidence to use the app. when I was away.
If it is young children that you are going to miss most (I have a 5 year old nephew, so I do understand), there is a way to soothe your guilt of abandoning them.
Pre buy Christmas and birthday presents and take the time to speak to them on special days. The first time homesickness caught me in Australia was my Nephews’ first sports day, which I missed. After shedding a few tears, the next day I found a postcard to send him. I congratulated him on his sporting achievements and explained that Aunty Hannah couldn’t come home yet, as the Australian government needed me to wrestle a few more crocodiles. Silly, but cheered me up no end when imagining his little face on receiving the postcard! Now I’m not suggesting blatantly lying to all the small children in your life (although it is fun). However, writing to them or collecting small presents to give on your return, can ease your feelings of abandoning them. Those gifts may even inspire them to go on their own travels one day, you never know!
If you’re really struggling with homesickness, there is always the option of heading home for a couple of weeks; If you have the funds available to do this, there is absolutely no shame in doing so. There is no “failure” in returning before the date you were expected. It simply allows you to recharge your batteries, see the ones you love and realise that home isn’t that amazing after all. With the realisation of “the grass is always greener”, you’ll head off again with a renewed drive to explore.
An alternative to this is to sweet talk a friend or family member, in heading out to join you for a holiday! After a couple of weeks of a having a familiar face around, your positivity levels should have risen and you will be ready to really get out there, and have some fun.
Have you experienced homesickness whilst travelling? How did you cope with it? Feel free to share your tips down in the comments section below.
Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!
Where I can be found: UK