Homesickness can affect any traveller, whether it’s your first time abroad or your fourteenth. Although there’s nothing wrong with missing home, when it starts to have an impact on your enjoyment of your trip then that’s when it can become a problem. For most people, homesickness doesn’t last long and becomes less noticeable the more you travel. It’s largely due to the shock of being away from your home comforts, your friends and your family. If you’re travelling solo then this feeling can be more pronounced. However, there are ways you can overcome homesickness so that it doesn’t ruin your trip.
Before you even leave home make sure your friends and family are involved in the planning process. Give them an itinerary of which places you will be heading. That way you will feel a connection with your family back home, knowing that they are thinking about where you are. It can also help if you are anxious about the safety aspect of travelling. You could even set up a blog so that your loved ones can follow you on your adventures. For some people, knowing that someone knows their location can be quite comforting. It can also be nice for friends and family back home who will probably be missing you as well!
While you’re travelling, communication is key – but not too much. There are loads of ways you can keep contact with your loved ones; email, Skype and even the good old-fashioned postcard. This type of contact can be very reassuring if you are feeling particularly homesick. However, try not to overdo it. Too much contact with people back home can make your homesickness worse and takes the focus away from the main purpose of your trip – to enjoy yourself!
Spend some time choosing gifts to take back to your friends and family. The process of buying a gift reinforces the fact that you will be seeing your loved ones again – your separation is only temporary. Take lots of photographs and think about all the amazing stories you will be able to tell them when you get back home.
Another way to combat homesickness is to simply make lots of new friends! You’re likely to meet so many new people on your travels that you will never really feel like you are alone. The people in your hostel, or volunteering group, or wherever you are, will become like a temporary family. You will share amazing experiences, look out for each other and probably keep in contact when you return home. The knowledge that you are not completely on your own can be very comforting.
There is nothing wrong with feeling homesick. You might be having the time of your life but still miss the comforts of home. Or, your homesickness may be affecting your enjoyment of the trip. If this is the case, then take action! For the most part, homesickness is psychological so think about the reasons you decided to travel in the first place (gaining independence, having fun, new experiences, making new friends) and try to focus on those instead. It can be tough at times, but in the connected world we live in, friends and family are often only an email or a Facebook message away.