It’s a bit like scabies or a lice infestation. Nobody wants to talk about it, but homesickness can ruin a great trip. Everyone has a hardwired need to feel secure, appreciated and loved, and sometimes those feelings can be hard to find when you’re on the road. Suddenly, everyone else seems to be having a grand time while you’re longing to be in a place where you’re surrounded by people who’ve known you for more than five minutes. Basically, homesickness sucks.
If being cut-off from your familiar support structure is making you anxious, start by recognizing that most people feel a bit homesick at some point or another in their lives. It’s perfectly normal to miss your friends and family when you’re travelling, but not to the point where it’s interfering with your enjoyment of new people and places. Here are some things you can do to lessen that feeling of isolation and embrace being out in the big world.
Cut Back on Social Media
Lots of people have an acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when they’re traveling for extended periods abroad. Obsessively checking in to see what’s happening back home, however, can increase your sense of homesickness. Instead of trying to be in two places at once, focus on what’s happening around you in the here and now. Gather the experiences you’ll want to share with your friends when you’re all back together again and let the drama at home take care of itself for a while.
Don’t Expect Everything to Be Familiar
If you want everything to look and feel just like home, you should probably stick to staycations. Homesickness often rears its head when you’re faced with something challenging or unfamiliar. Things like weird food, not understanding the language, or getting lost in a big city. The truth is, coping with cultural diversity is all part of being a traveler. If you’re prepared and excited for things to smell, look, sound and taste differently than they do in your own comfort zone, then you’re more likely to overcome homesickness.
Give Yourself a Day
If you find yourself seriously considering the next flight out because you’re feeling homesick, give yourself a day. Not just 24 hours to get over it, but a day just for you. Wallow in feeling anxious or lonely but do it away from your hostel or wherever else you’re staying. Walk the streets of the city, the beach, or the local waterways. Pretend this truly is your last day on the road and try to soak in as much as you can of the sights, the food and the cultural attractions. If you keep yourself completely immersed in being a tourist for an entire day, you might find that by bedtime, you’re making plans to do it all over again.
Build a Travel Routine
Sometimes homesickness can be an emotional reaction to the loss of control that comes with travelling. Plans fall through, buses run late, or your hostel bunk mate snores like a trooper. The best way to cope with feeling like you’re not the boss of what’s happening is to build a travel routine that you can control. That can include vowing to speak with one local every day, spending half an hour writing in your journal, or trying to do one thing you’ve never done before. Anything that anchors your day will leave you feeling more on top of things and help to keep those feelings of homesickness at bay.
The only good thing about homesickness is that it passes. Staying busy, avoiding comparisons with home, and creating your own daily routine will all help you feel better. And never forget that when you’re in the midst of a great adventure, you are home.