We’ve all been there. First comes the adrenaline rush when buying your flight ticket followed by the constant wonderment with your new surroundings in destination. But lurking behind the corner is an unwelcome friend: homesickness. Once homesick, it’s easy to spend days in bed, creeping Facebook profiles of your friends back home, and binging on chips that are in no way as good as the ones back home. But there is hope! Our friends Matt and Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush share some simple steps you can take to avoid homesickness when abroad.
Start off Slowly
You have a close knit bond to your hometown. Maybe it’s your first time abroad, on your own? I suggest you take it slow. If you are prone to homesickness when abroad, choose a destination that won’t be a total culture shock and that holds a specific interest to you. Do you love cooking? It may be wise to opt for a couple of weeks in Italy learning local cuisine instead of a multi month journey to India. The last you want is to be turned off by travel due to homesickness on your first trip.
Social Media Detox
What is the first thing a traveller does when bored and missing home? Here’s a clue: it starts with F and rhymes with Acebook (okay, so we need to work on our clue giving strategy). That’s right, if in a vulnerable state, the usually friendly social media tool is armed with dangerous weapons. Birthday party invitations, wedding albums and worried family poking you. While social media can be great for blogs and articles, it’s best to log off when homesick. You’ve taken this trip for a reason so why busy yourself with things back home? There are tons of fun experiences awaiting on the road. Living new, genuine experiences is the best way to beat the blues.
If Step 1 sounds daunting, here’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family back home. Sending postcards is a simple way to relax and focus on what is happening around you. This is the time to realize how lucky you are to be traveling and send a note filled with wanderlust. Describe the hot chai tea you’re sipping, the smell of the spice market you browsed or the sunrise that woke you that morning. Surely this will remind you how great the small things are while on the road.
Plan a Wild Activity
Do you have a special day coming up? Maybe it’s a certain anniversary or holiday? Since you won’t be home to celebrate make sure you have an epic day doing something you’ve always dreamed of. Zip lining through the Costa Rica rainforest surely beats eating some bad fruit cake at home. Birthday away from home? Sing some Hanson classics (is there more than one?) loud and proud at a Korean karaoke. The best way to avoid missing home is by creating way more fabulous memories abroad.
Find the Familiar
So you’ve now been abroad for a bit, you’ve sent postcards and even learned a few local phrases. You’re absolutely loving your new environment. However, something is missing. Now is the time to treat yourself to some familiarity. There is nothing wrong with indulging in non-cultural “comfort”. These distractions may come in the form of a extra cheesy pizza or an afternoon shopping in a modern, air-conditioned mall. Or maybe you prefer staying in bed, cheezies in hand, catching up on the latest season of The Glee Project? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. What’s important is for you to take some downtime from tiring travel (yes, it can be tiring) and treat yourself.
Leave your Room
For some (me included) this can be easier said than done. It’s important to make it a point to leave your room and meet fellow travelers. Whether it’s in a hostel common room or a hotel pool there are tons of other nomads waiting to meet you. A pub crawl will certainly yield interesting stories to share back home. Or maybe you can show off your triangle-playing talents by attending an open mic night. Groups of travellers can look intimidating but they consist of several people also missing little piece of home. Don’t miss out on the chance of making lifelong friendships.
We are so lucky to have the opportunity to travel. This is why it’s important not to let anxious feelings take over and possibly ruin a great adventure. Remember the excitement pre-departure? Focus on that energy.