Sometimes, traveling isn’t as glamorous as what you always see on social media. It’s important that we take a moment to acknowledge this so that we can be better prepared for whatever comes our way when on the road. There will undoubtedly be sticky situations, but the good times almost always outweigh any short-lived downsides. One of these downsides is homesickness. Although most common for those who are new to traveling, homesickness can affect anyone – even veteran travelers. For some people, they have never been homesick whilst traveling and never will. For others, they used to get homesick, but found it less pervasive with each trip until they now can’t even remember why they suffered from it in the first place. And for a few others, they still get homesick, but have figured out ways to deal with it in such a way that they don’t let it prevent them from checking out what the world has to offer.
As humans, it’s perfectly normal for us to become so accustomed to our own homes that we miss them when spending time away. Because it’s not just our homes, but it’s our friends, our families, and everything else we care about deeply – it’s our lives. You would be in the minority if you didn’t ever miss your home whilst away for prolonged periods of time. So, it’s not a case of learning how to not miss home, but instead, it is a case of figuring out how to deal with those feelings appropriately. And, as you travel more and more, you will notice feelings of homesickness become less and less intrusive. That isn’t because you like your home any less, but is because your brain adapts over time and learns that homesickness is primarily two things:
■ Once your subconscious understands that an inherent part of traveling is (generally) returning home, any upset tends to be less powerful. Now, it’s not simply a case of telling yourself it will only be a temporary feeling – we all know this to be true. It comes with time, and the more you travel, the more your subconscious will accept this as fact. Furthermore, homesickness is (generally) unproductive. It doesn’t help us in our current situation and doesn’t change anything else in a positive manner. It is a negative feeling, and as it doesn’t do anything to help us, it should be one that we actively try to minimize experiencing.
So, exactly how can we try to minimize these feelings? After all, our thoughts can be pretty hard to stop. Well, there are a few things you can do whilst traveling to better cope with homesickness, and here are our top 5:
1. Focus on yourself
If you’re struggling, take a moment for yourself. Whether that means taking some rest whilst listening to your favorite podcast, or going shopping and treating yourself, you should go ahead and do it. Having something to lift your mood – even if only slightly – is definitely worth it. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, treat yourself with something that you would normally do back home (e.g., going to a dessert shop or getting a massage etc.). Doing these activities won’t add to your homesickness but should instead make you feel more at home in your current location.
2. Create a routine
A clever way of combatting homesickness lies in finding ways to replicate home life without doing so in such a way that it makes you miss home even more. Our home life normally involves a routine, and so taking this aspect and applying it to your travels can be a great way to incorporate a bit of “normality” to ease your stress. It’s entirely understandable for your body to become confused when traveling; the daily routine it was once used to has been replaced for an unpredictable adventure. For a start, you could try setting a certain time for your regular meals and could even visit the same locations for them each time (e.g., a local café). Having this routine can help train your body (and brain) in a positive manner.
3. Go outside and/or keep busy
This one is a little self-explanatory, but it’s still worth mentioning. Homesickness as an emotion is often mixed with anxiety and sadness. Sometimes, being inside a room/building can amplify these feelings, as it keeps you out of touch with the “real world” (both physically and metaphorically). Simply stepping outside can often help alleviate the immediate pressure that comes from these emotions; as your brain becomes stimulated with the sights, sounds and smells of the outside world, it helps you to become more grounded. In turn, this grounding helps divert your attention from yourself – your thoughts become focused outwards rather than inwards. It’s the same principle for keeping busy – generally speaking, the busier you are, the less time you have to focus on these inward-facing thoughts.
4. Contact home
Sometimes, people feel as though they must suffer in silence. For homesickness, there should be no embarrassment or shame in admitting you are having a tough time. It can affect any one of us, regardless of age, travel-experience or gender. Therefore, if you are struggling, we encourage you contact your friends/family. It might be upsetting to be reminded that you are not with them but hearing their voices (or seeing their faces) can definitely help settle your emotions. Let them know you are struggling, and they will assure you that they are okay and miss you too. Simple reassurance and encouragement from others that it’s okay to feel this way is often a secret key to feeling better.
5. Be patient
If you’re suffering from homesickness, it’s important to allow yourself the time to feel differently. Now, that’s not to say you should wait forever – if many days (or even weeks) pass and you’re still just as upset, there is no point in torturing yourself by staying on a trip that you’re not enjoying. Only you can judge when you’ve given the negative feelings enough time to pass. However, it is important to be patient. We all feel homesick from time to time, but more often than not, these feelings are resolved within a couple of days as we start to find enjoyment elsewhere on our travels. As these feelings pass, our brain adapts and learns that nothing bad happened as a result of being away from home. The more it does this, the less homesick we feel.
And finally, we couldn’t write this blog post without giving ourselves a little bit of a plug. Homesickness is often compounded by loneliness/isolation. So, having others around you to talk/do activities with is going to help with that. Therefore, using Wander as a way to travel with other like-minded people is absolutely going to help in taking your mind off of any negative, inward-facing feelings. Companions will help keep you grounded, rather than getting lost with your thoughts.
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