7 tips on handling travel homesickness

This article was created for The Travel Project by Sarah Latham, who's slowly exploring the world by each country, 500 photos a day at a time.

I didn’t miss home in the slightest... And then just like that I did.

If the desire to travel is greater than the desire to go home, but you're struggling with homesickness, here are some helpful homesickness tips from someone who loves to travel but also loves home.

I’d been away from home for two months, which to a lot of long-term travellers is absolutely nothing. I’d been having the absolute time of my life, and couldn’t imagine coming home at all. I kept thinking of new places to see, and ways to extend my trip. I hadn’t spoken to my parents in about three weeks, apart from the odd ‘still alive’ Facebook message and was feeling super relaxed.

I got off the ferry in Zakynthos, Greece. An island I had been dying to see. I arrived at my hostel, which was probably the worst hostel I’ve stayed in. But I didn’t care. I was here for Navagio Beach come hell or high water.

RELATED: ISLAND GUIDE: 72 HOURS IN GREECE

Navagio Beach from above

On arrival, I was told that the car I’d booked was facing mechanical errors and they’d cancelled the booking. I ran around for an hour in absolute panic in absolute panic and even messaged my mum to update her on my events, she phoned me when she got the message, and it was the first time I had heard her voice in ages. Despite finally managing to find a car hire that was half the price of my original booking I suddenly felt miserable. Home sickness had kicked in.

I quickly worked out that being alone meant there was no one there to help me, to laugh about it, or to celebrate the success of finding an alternative.

Something as meaningless as a car hire had turned me from loving my trip to finding myself aching to be back home. I weighed up the pros and cons and decided I wanted to ride it out and overcome the homesickness – Here are 7 ways I dealt with it:

#1: Stay busy

It’s hard to spend too much time thinking about home, and the local pub, and the place you walk your dog when you’re too busy to even think about what’s happening tomorrow. Try and plan full long days if possible, think day trips, excursions and activities. The more you jam pack into your days the better each day will be as a memory to look back on in itself. Having days where you go to bed exhausted but completely full of a new experience are the day that you’ll love to reminisce over.

#2: Contact home

This depends so much on who you are. While stressed in Zakynthos, it was only after hearing my mum’s voice that the feeling of being homesick truly crept in. Sometimes its easier to have updates through Facebook messaging and email rather than Facetime and Skype, as it’s a way to stay in contact without missing too much.

However, this comes down so much to personal preference and if Facetiming home more than anything is what keeps the homesickness away, then don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

#3: Remember that home isn’t going anywhere

Home is always there and you’re always able to go back. You know what that means? It’ll be right there waiting for you at the end of the trip. It’s not going anywhere so while you’re away, you don’t have to worry. It’ll be waiting for you when you return.

#4: Look after yourself

When you’re at home there’s a high chance you’re looking after yourself physically a lot more – whether it’s just generally eating healthier or exercising more. Travelling can leave you with a bad diet and poor exercise. The unhealthy lifestyle can build up and leave you feeling lethargic and missing the time when you generally felt healthier.

Try and combat this by trying to choose the healthy option when available, and incorporating a few hikes into your itinerary. Not only will the endorphins help your mood, it’s likely you’ll stop associating the feeling of missing healthy habits with homesickness.

RELATED: WHERE TO GO IF WELLNESS IS YOUR PRIORITY

#5: Adapt old habits

New country, new you? Well maybe. Just because you’ve moved or you are travelling doesn’t necessarily mean everything from your previous life needs to be dropped. Always went for a run on a Saturday morning? Well, that can still happen – your backdrop may be Rome, or Uluwatu, or New York City, but keeping a habit up you enjoyed back home will make the transition just that little bit smoother.

 

#6: Research your destination

Home is a sense of familiarity. When we travel we step well into the unknown, and often it’s this culture shock that brings on stress and discomfort that sends us reeling into homesickness. The more you learn about the places you are visiting, the more prepared you’ll feel when you go – meaning less of a culture shock, less stress, and less of an urge to go home.

RELATED: HOW TO AVOID CULTURE SHOCKS: 11 CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AROUND THE WORLD 

#7: Choose a tour

Last year when I was travelling, I lasted about two weeks before I realised I wasn’t enjoying my travel experience. I wanted to go home. Instead of doing just that, I booked on a the Trail to Rome Contiki tour. It changed my mindset completely by combining a few of the above tips. I was busy from dawn to dusk.

I learnt about where I was going before I got there, and I felt an excitement that had been previously drowned out by other negative feelings. My tour was just 12 days, but it was long enough to get me excited about Europe all over again. Sometimes you need that kick-start to remind yourself exactly why you’re out and about.

And remember; if, at the end of the day, you’re ready to go home, then home is always there.

 

Have you struggled with homesickness recently, or found yourself dealing with negative thoughts while travelling? Share you stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…

 

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