You’ve had an exciting day in a new city.
You arrived early this morning but you’ve done a lot today and now it’s time to wind down before bed…
You’ve seen famous landmarks and stunning landscapes. You’ve even picked up a few new words or learned some tidbits of history along the way.
So why do you have this overwhelming feeling of longing and sadness?
Every moment of this trip is supposed to be fun. Exciting. Amazing.
Friends and family look like they’re having the time of their life in their travel photos on Instagram and Facebook, so why aren’t you?
The truth is that travelling is not always fun, exciting or amazing. Sometimes it can be downright stressful, scary or dreary.
You may have gotten lost on your way to the hotel (too many times to count). You might have gotten an unfortunate bout of nausea from jet-lag (that definitely puts a wrench in your dinner plans). And perhaps the food you did have for dinner was bland (yep, not every meal or restaurant service is going to get five stars).
All these little frustrations are enough to make anyone miss home.
The good news is that homesickness — like any feeling — is usually temporary. You might not be able to cure homesickness but there are some ways you can ease it.
1. Remind yourself that you’ll be going home soon — sooner than you think!
You can always rest assured in the fact that your trip will end soon. Home, with all of its comforts, is just on the horizon. No matter how homesick you are, remember that a trip can pass right before your eyes. A week or two can go by surprisingly fast. You could even find yourself sad to leave a place at the end of your trip.
2. Eat some awesome food
Many cities around the world have gastronomic treasures. Take the time to explore neighbourhoods and restaurants that pique your interest. Look at reviews ahead of time, just so you can find the local favourites and pick the best.
Sometimes you need to find good old-fashioned comfort food or food that reminds you of home. This can help ease homesickness because at least the food will be familiar.
Comfort food is different for everyone. For me, it’s any meal with potatoes, gravy or beef.
If you’re in need of a change from the usual local food however, eating some healthy food helps too. Missing out on fruits and veggies makes you lethargic and moody. I remembered that I was actually craving salads in Ireland because I was having too many hearty comfort-style foods: potatoes, brown bread, lamb, sausages...
While eating the local cuisine can be a satisfying experience, your body will eventually need a break. It’s amazing how some leafy greens and vegetables can perk you right up. Stay hydrated as well (but read up on the local water quality too).
3. Journal about how you feel and what you’ve seen
Journalling is a cathartic way to get everything out, without snapping at anyone. The stresses of travelling can bubble up inside and it’s not unusual to find yourself bickering with your travelling companion. Journalling gives you the chance to pause and reflect on your day, how you feel and what you experienced. It’s also a great way to make sense of everything and get your mind off how you’re feeling.
4. Make conversation with locals, other travellers or family/friends back home
This is really dependent on your personality and how comfortable you are making conversation with strangers. Always use caution and assess whether someone is trustworthy enough to approach or talk to (especially if you’re travelling alone). On the flip side, this can be a great way to make some light conversation with locals or fellow travellers and ease your loneliness. I’ve found that many waiters, inn owners, bus drivers and other service workers are genuinely interested in you and your travels.
If you take a tour, that’s another good way to strike up conversation with other travellers who may be feeling just as out of place or homesick.
However, if you’re really not up to talking to locals or other travellers, you can always use Skype to talk to your family or friends. Skype calls are free anywhere in the world and feel more personal than a phone call.
5. Lastly, focus on the present
Be mindful of where you are and remind yourself of why you travelled to this destination in the first place. The key to contentment is to be happy with where you are, whether that’s a physical or emotional location.
You may be feeling lonely and homesick but you can also own those feelings. Acknowledge it, accept it and try to move on.
Think about all the good things that have happened on your trip.
The kindly inn owner that asked about your trip.
The amazing meal you had a few nights ago.
The stunning view that took your breath away.
Homesickness can be a difficult emotion to work through. It’s a result of discomfort, uncertainty and a longing for the familiar.
Remember that homesickness is part of a process. We’re moving through a transition and transitions are always hard.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always found that homesickness strikes me right at the beginning of a trip. It fades over time and then you get so caught up in your trip that homesickness feels like a distant memory.
Remember that feelings are temporary and that you can own them.
And most importantly, be open and alert to all the experiences and possibilities the present has to offer you.
What are your strategies for dealing with homesickness?