Part 2 - 17 More Ways to Beat Homesickness While Travelling.
Welcome to part two of my blog on techniques to beat homesickness while on the road. Don’t worry everyone feels down sometimes. Check out part one of this blog to understand what homesickness is and why it’s so common among first time travellers. Or scroll down for 17 more techniques to help you process all the new and foreign information that is thrown at you in your first month or so away from home.
Keep a diary, a diary will help you process all those intense feelings brought on by new environments. It will also force you to remember the good bits of your day and trust me you will look back on these days and wish you could do it all over again.
Keep in contact with home; Skype, Facebook whatever works, sometimes it’s nice just to hear your family’s voice or vent to a friend. It’s amazing how much more positive I feel after half an hour chatting to folks back home.
Share your feelings, it sounds a bit touchy feely but sharing our thoughts and opinions is what makes us feel excepted as humans. Whether you send a post card home telling your bestie about an awesome waterfall you saw or having a rant to your fellow hostel dwellers about the shock lack of public transport. Sharing and validating your feelings makes you feel less alone.
Write down why you travel, if you’re seriously considering packing it in, sit down and write out the reasons you decided to go travelling in the first place. A pros and cons list also helps you see what you might be getting out of this experience that you hadn’t considered.
Buy gifts for loved ones back home, if you’re feeling homesick keep your loved ones in mind, shop for post cards and small souvenirs that each person might like to help share your experience with those far away.
Turn off newsfeeds, sometimes you need a break from the internet to really adjust to a new culture, you can’t be living with one foot still in another country. Don’t worry your friends won’t forget you if you’re not online for a week. Sometimes you need a full emersion experience.
Get jealous of other’s adventures, before you sign off the net have a quick look at some travel blogs and friend’s pages who travel the world doing amazing things, What are they doing that’s so amazing? Can you do it to? Why do you want to? What’s stopping you? Get an inspiration hit.
Sometimes you just need to be surrounded by the familiar, try cooking a meal like you would back home, listen to some upbeat tunes or watch your favorite TV show online. If all else fails, McDonalds is a pretty familiar experience with American music videos and cheese burgers served all over the world.
Keep busy, make sure you chose an itinerary of fun activities and sites you’ve always wanted to see, remember this is a temporary feeling and will pass, so keep yourself distracted and you will be too tired to mope in the evenings.
Ease your way into food/accommodation/language. If this is your first trip ease your way in, start off in a nice western style hotel with western meals and English speaking managers and slowly adapt more local cuisine and habits into your travel as you adjust.
Try an organised tour, if you are having trouble going it alone, try booking a group tour for the day. You will meet some other travellers and see the sites without having to stress about transport and language barriers.
Celebrate your own cultures holidays, don’t abandon your old life completely, keep some chocolate on hand for Easter or organise a secret Santa in your hostel for Christmas, it will make you feel better and bring you together with others also a long way from home.
Find a travel companion, from someone you meet in a hostel to the many ‘find a travel buddy’ sites online. Find someone to travel with even if it’s only for a week, you will be able to share the stresses of travelling life and will appreciate your own company even more when you part.
Embrace the local culture:
Adopt a local, whether you use couch surfing, a formal cultural exchange programme or just meet someone lovely at the local market, a local can help you understand local traditions, tell you the most efficient way to get things done or just welcome you into their home and culture in a way that makes you feel welcome and at home.
Over expose yourself to things that bug you, if you’ve identified something that is a trigger for you be it crowds or eating alone, have a go at normalising it for yourself. If you hate crowds go to the market every day, it will soon become normal and you will be familiar to the local vendors and it will be easier to start a conversation.
Set yourself challenges, write down the reasons you wanted to travel, the places you wanted to see and the things you wanted to learn before your trip began. Figure out the step needed to reach these goals and set yourself a list to tick off. Say you want to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, you need to learn how to dive, get to north eastern Australia, find the cheapest dive gear etc. You can do almost anything when you take it in small steps.
Learn a new skill, learning actively involves you in a new community and engages your brain in a different way than passive observation. Are you into art, music, cooking, martial art, language? You can find classes in almost anything and often at bargain prices.
Travel slower, allow yourself to become familiar with the routines of a community. It will make you feel less stressed to know where to get a UK phone card or how much the taxi should cost and you will have time to see the area in detail that many tourists miss.
Learn the local customs and rules, it will help you understand why the local people act as they do. Other’s practices are no better or worse than your own and understanding them will give you the option of flying under the radar if you want to.
Now your equipped with 30 techniques to combat homesickness on the road. It’s important to keep in mind that these feelings won’t last forever and I encourage you to give travel a chance before you decide to pack it in and head home. There are so many amazing things to see and learn out there. And remember when you do head home, that there is such a thing as reverse culture shock and if you have been on the road awhile, you should prepare yourself for a period of adjustment back into your own culture as well.
Best of luck in your travels
Author of Stress Free Adventure planning