5 Tips for Travellers to Overcome Homesickness
Homesickness feeds on what we miss
Last week I was offered an incredible opportunity. An all-expenses paid journalist trip to Indonesia to cover the Government’s tourism events for a week. I was to go and represent an online travel magazine that I occasionally write for. I was so excited when I heard and replied immediately with a copy of my passport and a casual “I’m currently in Kenya, I hope that’s not a problem”. It was.
Unfortunately, the flights on offer were only from Australia to Indonesia and despite offering to cover any extra cost, my editor could not send me. My replacement heads there today.
And who do I miss the most?
My one-and-only nephew has his naming ceremony in a few weeks. This is a big event for my sister who has people coming from far and wide to celebrate with her. He will be six months by that point and despite having been with her for most of her labour and for a few months after his birth to help out, she is devastated that I won’t be making the ceremony. So am I.
You see, this is the downside to long-term travel or expat living. It sounds so idyllic and romantic; to hit the road forever and go where the wind blows. And it is; until something reminds us that we are missing out on other opportunities. It can be family or career, financial or educational, or simply that we miss the taste of home-cooking and the chance to regularly clean our clothes. Homesickness can creep up on even the most hardy of travellers. It is nothing to be ashamed of and there are a number of things you can do to help you through the hard times.
5 Tips to Overcome Homesickness
- Carry photos of your family and your home on your phone/laptop/device of choice, to remind yourself that they are still there.
- Bring with you one sentimental item – either a piece of jewellery from your mum or the bottle-opener from your sisters wedding (yep! Got this packed). There is always room for something small that will make you smile every time you see it. And those stuffed toys you can’t part with make great photo companions! For those who are left at home, nothing makes a better farewell present than something sentimental, and www.littleboxof.com.au has you covered on that front!
- Connect with local people and make a new family and home. It’s not a replacement but if you are going to be in a place for a long time, make yourself comfortable. Find those people that you can join for dinner or watch a movie with – have a moment that you would at home.
- Find a (reliable) wifi hotspot so you can phone home regularly or skype to ‘attend’ any important events back home.
- Remind yourself regularly why you left. Was it for the adventure of a lifetime (flick through photos from your trip so far or look up the next place to visit), was it to ‘find yourself’ (take time to recognise how far you’ve come emotionally as well as physically) or was it simply to challenge your norm? Remember the reason and make sure you live it.
Stick to your goals
There is too much potential offered by traveling to simply give it up; to give away this chance that we’ve taken to hit the road and keep going. I love that I’m having an opportunity to really experience life in Africa. I have met some incredibly inspiring people and heard the saddest stories – that sometimes I wish I could un-hear. I’ve seen the Serengeti at sunset and kissed a giraffe (you can read more about that here). I have eaten ugali and watched a man haul half a cow into his hotel – true story; check out my Instagram feed if you don’t believe me!
Do I miss my family? Yes! Do I wish I could have gone to Indonesia on assignment? Hell yes! Would I give up the experience I’ve had in the past four months so that I would be available for those two things? No! It was my time to take a chance, a risk and to do something different with my life. I love myself for doing it, for putting myself first – I just need to remember that in a couple of weeks when I’m absent from the naming ceremony 🙁