Dealing with homesickness

Original photo by Raebrune.

Whether you’re traveling by yourself for the first time, spending a semester at a university abroad, or going on an extended round-the-world trip, chances are high that at some point you’ll be faced with a bout of homesickness.

While it’s perfectly natural and normal to miss the familiar faces and comforts of home, if you don’t deal with it, homesickness can really eat into your fun. Instead of enjoying the experiences and adventures in front of you, you’re too busy dwelling on what you’ve left behind.

So how can you get fight off those feelings of nostalgia and get yourself back on track? Here are 10 things you can do right now to combat homesickness.

1. Skype. Technology has come a long way since the days of waiting around for a telegram or letter from a loved one. Free services like Skype that allow you to video call anyone for free are your best friend when you’re missing home.

2. But not too much. While it’s nice to be able to stay in touch with family and friends when you’re traveling, doing it too much could actually make you feel lonelier and more homesick. Seeing all your friends or family gathered together might just reinforce the fact that you’re not there with them. In this case, email can be a good way to stay in touch without sending your emotions on a rollercoaster.

3. Don’t hop around so much. If you’re constantly on the move, going from city to city, it’s not surprising that you’d feel dazed and displaced. Sometimes, slowing down and staying in one town or city for a little bit longer can make a huge difference. It gives you the chance to get to know your way around, find the good coffee shops and breakfast spots, maybe meet a few people, and just generally develop a sense of familiarity with a place. Having some kind of routine, as well as familiar hangout spots, can help you feel more grounded, easing those homesick feelings.

4. Stay somewhere you can meet people. Being cooped up in a hotel room night after night all by yourself can get a bit lonely, so consider staying in a more social environment. Bed & breakfasts, home stays and hostels are all great accommodation choices if you want to get to know other people that you can engage with.

5. Hang out with expats. You may be traveling to experience new cultures and places, but there’s nothing wrong with spending some time with other foreigners as well. Meeting people who speak the same language as you or share the same culture can help you feel a bit closer to home. You might also get useful advice about how to cope with some of the differences and difficulties in the place you’re visiting.

6. Watch TV shows from home. It sounds strange, but watching TV shows you enjoyed back home can help you escape and feel like you’re right back in your living room. Watching TV is a regular activity for many of us in normal life but not something we do a lot when we’re traveling, so taking some time to watch a favorite program can be a nice reminder of our home life. You can find a lot of your usual shows online these days.

7. Eat foods from home. Whether it’s a meal at a restaurant that specializes in food from your country, a cup of tea you’ve been carrying around with you, or peanut butter and chocolates sent to you in a care package, eating familiar foods can ease your cravings and transport your taste buds home.

8. Keep a journal. Writing about your experiences and venting out your frustrations can be extremely cathartic. You’d be surprised how much better you feel afterwards, and it’s rewarding to look back later at how much you’ve overcome.

9. Don’t dwell on it. Thinking about how much you miss home will only make you feel worse. Instead, focus on the fact that you’re somewhere amazing and go do something interesting to distract yourself from your negative thoughts.

10. Remember why you’re traveling. Understanding your motivations for being away from home can help you come to peace with it. Maybe you’re traveling to study, to learn a new language, to develop your passion for art or history, to grow your understanding of different cultures, get in touch with your heritage, or any number of other reasons. Whatever it might be, focusing on the why behind your travels can help you get through the how.

What do you think? Have you ever faced homesickness? Do you have any tips for getting through the rough patches?