Homesickness is a reality that everyone faces from time to time, no matter how long one has been traveling or how well-adjusted one is to another country. Whether it’s missing the holidays with family, a special occasion missed with friends, or just the normal down-in-the-dumps cycle we sometimes find ourselves in, homesickness can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Of course, you probably already know that. But, you’ve made the decision to travel anyway, regardless of the possible emotional setbacks and bouts of homesickness. Any great decision is worth the sacrifices that come with it.
This doesn’t mean, though, that homesickness is any old walk in the park. Sometimes it’s just a silly sting of pain that lasts a few seconds, but other times it can drive us to unhealthy places filled with depression and anxiety that lasts for months. To avoid being completely overwhelmed and emotional consumed when your next bout of homesickness strikes (and it probably will when you least expect it), try using these four travel-tested tips.
1. Prepare yourself for missing home, loved ones, and familiarity in advance.
Don’t think you’re immune to homesickness just because you are independent and ready to see the world. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who rarely experiences it, but odds are that you’ll feel some form of homesickness or loneliness at some point in your travels. The whole situation is made much better when you’re prepared to feel this way.
Try keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings as you travel. Not only will this allow you to express your emotions in a therapeutic sense, but it’ll also be helpful to watch your progress over time. Try to designate specific technologies for keeping in touch (and make sure you have the abilities to do so while you travel) with family and friends. Keeping the connection alive can keep homesickness at bay.
2. Keep yourself busy and engaged in your new community.
Although keeping in touch with people from home is important, try to stay engaged and active within whichever community you’re in – whether that be a new city you moved to or a new city you’re only visiting for 24 hours. Meet people, attend events, reach out to others via social media groups that are active in the area, and ditch your inhibitions for making new friends. It’s part of the travel experience, and it will make a bout of homesickness much easier to get through.
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3. Balance your friendships between locals and foreigners.
When you first arrive at a new place – especially when you’ve just moved – it can be easy to befriend exclusively foreigners or people from your home country. While you really can’t be too picky when it comes to making friends on the road, it’s important to be cognizant of this simple human tendency of attraction toward likeness.
Though any friend is usually better than no friend, make sure you aren’t exclusively seeing some while totally excluding all other possible friendships. Having a wide variety of friends (particularly between locals and fellow foreigners) will encourage you to feel connected and welcomed to your community, which is always helpful when homesickness rears its head.
4. When you can’t beat it, feed it.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t shake the feeling of homesickness. It’s okay to indulge in pieces of home – such as eating familiar cuisine, speaking your native language, etc. – but balance is always key. When you find yourself exclusively eating food from home, exclusive speaking your native language, and exclusively seeing friends from your own country, you’re robbing your own travel experience of the fascinating differences between cultures that makes it so great. Feed your sense of familiarity, but be careful not to ignore this new, beautiful place where you are.
What have you done to cope with homesickness? Share with us in the comments section below!