Homesickness can be a great paradox of the traveling spirit. I’m always yearning to be in a far-away land, doing something extremely exotic. Only to get there, and wish I was back home within my comfort zone. It’s something I continue to struggle with, but when I take precautionary measures, it helps immensely.
Even for someone who travels as much as I do, I get homesick pretty often. In many cases, because of a time difference, it’s not as easy as just picking up the phone to call a friend/family member. And oftentimes if you do, that will only make the situation worse once you start to hear of comings and goings on back home.
The following is a list of counteractive steps I’ve honed in on. Feel free to take any or all of these suggestions if you too find yourself pining for the familiar while traveling in a foreign land:
1. Take a walk around the block.
I learned this when I was one of my soul searching trips to Sedona, Arizona: your thoughts will be more “high level” when you are in an open, fresh-air space. Alternatively, they will be more “low level” when you’re in an enclosed space, say for example in a hostel/hotel room. It has something to do with the way the energy is flowing. In a closed space it flows inwards because it’s continually circulating in a repeated direction without escape. Abstractly, when you’re in an open-air environment the energy around you will travel upwards, allowing your thought to do the same and a perpetual jet stream of fresh new energy to come your way.
So get out of that room you’re in, and go for a walk. I can almost guarantee that you’ll come across something that will completely distract you and get you out of your head, and away from those low-level thoughts.
2. Do not go in the internet (unless it’s to read articles like this one!)
This is similar to what I said above. Imitating your normal habits at home, or seeing what everyone else is up to will only make you yearn for it more. Getting FOMO isn’t going to help anybody now. Even seeing the news back home will usually worsen my homesickness.
3. Strike up a conversation.
Another way to get our of your own head. The topic will shift from yourself to someone else instead. Be sure to ask lots of questions, and truly listen to what they’re saying. You might even find the opportunity for conversations by taking a walk (#1 on this list).
4. Take care of yourself.
When your body is in distress (aka hungover, jet lagged, dehydrated, etc.) you’ll be more likely to feel anxious and want to be around people who make you feel comfortable, like the people back home. That’s exactly the ripe conditions for extreme homesickness to ensue. So to prevent these feelings from cropping up in the first place, you’ll need to take care of yourself. Drink as much [bottled or sterilized] water as you can get your hands on. And then some more. Go try and work out. Getting the blood pumping will help. Maybe even splurge for a massage. Treating your body and mind with care will go a long way, in this type of situation especially.
5. Go look at something beautiful.
Even if you’re somewhere dull, and you swear there’s nothing to go see, challenge yourself. Go explore anyway, and make it your mission to find the beauty of the place you’re in. The feeling of awe, of great amazement, can pretty much be a cure-all for any bad mood.
6. Get back to those travel plans.
This is something that helps me deal with stress when I’m at home too. When my mind is all caught up in planning out something exciting (like where I’ll travel to next) I can’t help but feel pure excitement. Having something to look forward to will make you think less about what you’re missing out on back home.
7. Reach out to someone who knows how you’re feeling.
If you’re a traveler, it’s likely you’ve got other likeminded traveler friends. Some people might deny it, but I’m willing to bet that everyone has felt homesick at least a little during their travels. Maybe shoot a message to one of those fellow travelers letting them know you need a lifeline. Having a “war buddy” of sorts that knows what it feels like will make you feel less alone, and that will help more than you think.
8. Don’t be a hero.
I have a small emergency stash of xanax (it is prescribed) for those times when nothing else seems to be helping. Which can sometimes be the case.
If you’re strongly against prescription meds, and I know many people who are, a natural alternative that always puts me in a better mood is B12 tablets.**This is also a secret hangover cure of mine. Just be sure to check the restrictions on bringing both natural remedies and prescriptions into the places you’re planning to visit.
Do not go get drunk, either. That will make you dehydrated, and we talked about that in #4.
9. Know that it will pass.
As with most things in life. You won’t feel homesick for too long, and you’ll be feeling back to yourself in no time. Especially if you follow some of these recommendations :)