This is a feeling I know far too well.
A couple of days after arriving in Melbourne I got the flu. Or I think it was the flu, but being in Bali it could have been Dengue fever which would have sounded far more exotic.
I was so sick and staying in an Airbnb room. After 3 months of hostels, this sounded like a fantastic idea. I’d get a routine, some normality, a wardrobe to hang my clothes in…
But I was stuck in my sick bed, and homesickness came rushing in like a tidal wave.
ALL I wanted was to just go home.
I was researching how I could change my flight back to the UK (This was in March and my flight wasn’t until the end of May!). So ready to click the button and pay a hefty fee for the next flight home, I was crying on the phone to my family. It was rough.
At the time, in this emotional whirlwind, I was pissed. My dad and step-mum were trying to persuade me to stay and ride it out. But when you’re in that dark state all you want is a big hug from your family (and mostly a cuddle with your dog). I couldn’t understand in that state the bigger picture they could see, and all of the amazing experiences Australia had to offer.
All I can say is I’m so grateful to have listened to them. I’m so grateful for the courage to close that window on my laptop, where a single click would have put me on a flight home.
Now, I’m writing this, sat on the Beach, soaking in the beautiful sunshine.
But homesickness is something I think we dismiss and take lightly, as a weakness. But it’s REAL. It makes you feel physically and emotionally drained, it clouds your world.
I don’t know about you, but for a digital nomad life myself or for a long term traveller, calling it ‘home’ sickness is a little strange. I’m not longing to be in England or my hometown, it’s all about the loved ones I don’t get to see.
(And let’s face it, there’s not much to miss in the UK right now- our country is a hot mess!)
All you want, like the strongest craving for chocolate or cake, is to see your family, even for a day.
But, for me to have done this, I’d have missed out on all the amazing experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met here. It would have been a deep regret.
Who is this post for?
So I’m writing this for anyone out there who is struggling with homesickness. I want you to know you are not alone in this and you can do things to help you through it. Or if you’re travelling and don’t miss home one tiny bit, I hope you can use these tips to prevent feeling this way wherever your journey takes you.
Most of us at some point experience homesickness and it’s a very natural part of travel.
There ARE things you can do to get through it.
But I also want to stress something; if you know deep down that the situation you’re in is making you deeply unhappy, and you’ve tried your best to ‘get through it’, there is ZERO shame in getting on that flight home.
Life is too short to be miserable. Go and spend quality time with friends and family. Take the time to reflect on why you felt that way. Were you too isolated? Where you surrounded by negative energy? And know that you haven’t given up on your dreams, you’re pivoting and that’s ok! You don’t have to prove your ‘strength’ to anyone.
But if like me, you know deep down there are so many incredible experiences waiting for you and it’s a matter of getting out of your own way to say YES to them, there are things you can do to reach the other side of these feelings…
Here are my 5 remedies for homesickness so you can truly enjoy your travel adventures!
Don’t Resist The Feelings
Something I’ve learnt from meditation, yoga, and law of attraction teachings this year is that it’s ok to feel how you feel. You’re allowed to miss people and places.
Resisting these feelings is like swimming against the tide. You’re not going anywhere and getting tired out real fast.
But if you sit and maybe meditate, take a walk, or journal it out, you get out of your own way.
Instead of fuelling the fire with negative self-talk like ‘Why am I so weak?’, ‘I should be so grateful to be travelling’ or ‘I always f**k it up’, be kind to yourself! You’re human!
Get Out & Do Something!
This applies even if you’re not travelling and feeling low in general. Often we want to hide under the covers, watch Netflix all day and eat crap!
And in this state, the thought of doing anything can be daunting. But trust me, just take the first step. Go to a coffee shop and treat yourself. Lay on the beach. Get your nails done, or sit and people watch for a couple of hours.
Nature is also very grounding when life feels overwhelming. For me, taking a walk in nature always brings me to a place of peace and gratitude.
What’s important here is that you do something that brings you joy and comfort! Treat yourself!
Speak To Other Humans!
As an introvert, I love my own company, I really do. But I also know that the times I feel homesick are when I’ve been isolated for a few days with too much time to think.
You can be your own worst enemy at times!
What situation are you in?
Could you join a local meet-up group?
Would you be willing to stay somewhere more social like a hostel and join in the activities? While it’s not always the best environment for a digital nomad, I’m always so much happier in a dorm.
In Melbourne, I forced myself out of the house to go to a Zumba class. Sure, I didn’t make any life-long friends shimmy-ing around. But I had a friendly chat with people and got dancing and laughing- it really raised my spirits.
Then in Sydney, I joined a yoga studio for the month. Seeing familiar faces every day is so comforting.
Even making a commitment to get out every day and having a conversation with someone- a barista, asking where something is in the supermarket- anything to get out of your own bubble of thoughts and spiralling into wanting to leave.
Don’t Forget About Facetime!
Sometimes when travel gets hard I miss the little things- having a coffee with my mum or a friend, and talking about random crap with my sister while she puts her make-up on. But with Skype, Whats-app, Face-time and whatever else the kids are into these days, it’s sooo easy to keep up with everyday life back home.
And while you should absolutely get out there and enjoy your travels, the comfort of seeing a friendly face (even if it is on a screen) can be a real help in relieving homesickness.
Why not arrange a regular catch up with your loved ones, or spread them out across the week. You’ll always have something to look forward to and get you through when you’re having a hard time.
Home Comforts & Routine
Travel is all about exploring the unknown, trying new exotic foods and meeting new people.
And I LOVE this, as I’m sure you do too.
But let’s be real here, we’re only human.
Sometimes, amongst all of these new and exciting things, all I want is a cosy morning with a cup of English breakfast tea!
If you can relate, as a fellow creature of habit, what is something you can incorporate into your travels as a kind of ritual, or routine?
Maybe wherever you are you find a church on Sunday morning? Maybe it’s being able to do Yoga on a Saturday morning by finding a local class? Or if you’re a Brit like me, it’s hunting down those hella expensive ‘proper’ tea bags.
Figuring out what YOUR comforts are can make such a difference when you’re away, especially for a long time. Even if you’re diving into new experiences every day, you have a place to ground you and come back to when it all feels too much.
And there you have it…5 tips you can start using today to ease that homesickness and start really embracing your amazing travel experiences!
But listen, if you’ve tried to beat the blues of being away from home and nothing, literally nothing, is helping…it’s not the end of the world if you choose to go home.
You have NOT failed, you’re simply pivoting.
It’s not the end of the line. You can take time to recharge and reflect, and your experience will make you a million times more equipped for the next time you set off on a travel adventure!
Life is too short to be miserable or live by others expectations of you!
Ok, I’m going to stop rambling now. But I’m curious…what are your top tips for homesickness?