One of the hardest parts of traveling or moving away from home is…missing home.
Everything is new, strange and weird. Nothing is familiar. You’ve left your support group back home, and while you can contact them by texting, calling or email, it just isn’t quite the same.
Keeping up on social media makes it even harder because you see that everyone back home is going on with their lives, without you.
David and I understand what you’re going through. We get it because we’ve been there.
In 2008, I moved from North Carolina to Colorado, not knowing a soul in the world in Colorado. It took me about six months before I stopped missing home. A couple of times I almost gave up and moved back.
In 2015, David and I began traveling full-time. It was a little easier since we had the two of us to keep each other company, but at the three-month mark, we were feeling very lonely and homesick.
In both cases, we missed our families, our friends and the things we knew. We were out of our comfort zone. But in both cases, we just had to get over the hump. Once we started getting out, making new friends and realizing nothing was weird, just different, everything got so much better.
And while nothing but time can indeed take away homesickness, some ways will help make the process easier.
Here are the 10 things we recommend to help you stop feeling homesick:
1. Realize It’s Normal
It’s an entirely reasonable feeling to miss home, so don’t beat yourself up because you’re feeling lonely. Instead, give yourself a moment. It’s okay.
The missing home feeling will go away as you get used to your new environment. In the meantime, it’s okay to give yourself some time while your acclimate.
2. Don’t Isolate Yourself
You might not feel like being around others because let’s face it…you’re feeling a little sorry for yourself and sad. Who wants to go out when feeling like that? I know I don’t! But the worst thing you can do is hide away in your room.
Get out. Go sightseeing. If you exercise, go for a walk or run, or find the local gym. Go grocery shopping, see a movie or visit a museum. If going out is impossible right that moment, clean your home or cook a meal. Just don’t hide and mope.
The faster you get back to doing “normal” things, the faster you’ll get over feeling homesick, and your new location starts to feel like “home.”
3. Find Your People
That’s right, get out and make some friends. Find your people. It’s the only way you’re going to get over that lonely feeling.
Sites like Meetup, Facebook groups, student groups, and other group posting sites are a great place to find groups of people with similar interests. Trust me, even in a new country with a new language; there are people with the same interests you have. And even if they don’t, you can still make new friends and explore new interests.
4. Call Home
“Phone” home or Skype, Facetime, or Zoom. Just hearing the voices of loved ones is an instant feel better moment. And seeing them is even better!
Just don’t do it daily. Daily reinforces feelings of homesickness. Once a week or month calls are good enough for helping you feel less lonely, but still, leaves you plenty of time for making new friends.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to run up a massive bill doing it. Instead, use a calling app that uses your data plan over minutes, such as Facebook Messager, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Maaii, LINE or Hangouts (I’m sure there’s a whole list more).
5. Find or Make Your Favorite Food
Yeah, your favorite food is still your favorite food no matter where you are. While you may not be able to find your exact favorite, unless you can make it at home, I bet you can find something similar. Or get out and make some new favorites.
A little off subject, but I’m still amazed at how my taste buds have changed from traveling. Some of the foods, I used to love, I now hate since returning to the US. It’s not that your old favorites changed, it’s because you did from the exposure to new tastes and flavors.
While we don’t recommend using food as a full-time anti-depressant, it can help with relieving homesickness.
6. Join Local Festivities
Check to see what local festivities are going on. Parades, festivals, holidays or whatever are an excellent way to get out and experience the local cultures and traditions. They are also great places to meet people.
Volunteering is an awesome way to integrate into a new community and meet new people. It puts you in an environment where people are happy to reach out because you are giving something of yourself. And while your volunteering motives might be a little self-oriented, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the feel good feeling of helping out others while helping out yourself.
8. Spoil Yourself
Do something special for yourself. Feeling homesick and out-of-place is stressful.
Instead of sitting home, feeling homesick, pamper yourself. Do a little shopping, indulge in a good bottle of wine or beer at the local bar, get a massage or get your hair or nails done.
And don’t forget, the local bar or hair and nail salon are great places to make people connections.
It’s okay to relax. Just don’t do it while hiding in your room. Find somewhere peaceful to meditate or do a little yoga. Take a walk by the ocean or hike a high mountain. Whatever you like to do for relaxation, do it.
10. Do a Little Decorating
Spruce up your hotel, or house sits, Airbnb, couch, tent or cave with a little decorating. Make your place feel like home even if it’s temporary.
- Permanent: put up curtains, paint the walls, buy a string of lights, get a plant, or get new furniture.
- Temporary: move the furniture, buy flowers, a plant, get a photo printed to hang or unpack your suitcase.
Even the smallest changes can make a difference and make the place feel more like home.
Being away from home doesn’t have to be a mood killer. Hiding away won’t help you avoid feeling homesick. In fact, it makes it worse. So, get out have some fun in your new environment. You’ll be amazed at how quick the homesickness goes away.
- 1 Here are the 10 things we recommend to help you stop feeling homesick: