No matter if you’re only away for a weekend, two weeks, a month, or a couple of years – I’m sure everyone has experienced homesickness. Being homesick is no picnic – all you think about is your friends, your family, your home – and if you let it, it can destroy your trip.
My experience with homesickness
I have had my fair share of homesickness too, and once it even made me come home early from a trip. I was away for four months at that point, and even though I liked where I was at the beginning, by that time I couldn’t enjoy any of it anymore. All I could think about was how unhappy I felt, how much I missed my home, the food there, and even small details like the plants in my room.
I felt absolutely miserable and admittedly even cried myself to sleep more than once. I stayed in bed all day, I didn’t go out, I just felt sorry for myself – until one night I finally booked a flight home. And you know what? If that happens to you, it is totally okay. It is okay to feel homesick, no matter how old you are – that’s completely normal and mostly inevitable. It’s also okay to book a flight home if you feel like you can’t take it anymore, but you need to be prepared to live with the consequences.
After I booked my flight, I felt relieved – I knew I was going home, and after all, that was all I had wanted for weeks. I got on the plane and arrived home. And the first couple of days, I was so happy to be back – I took it all in. But then, I started to feel a few regrets. Being back showed me that where I was hadn’t been that bad and that by feeling sorry for myself, I actually destroyed my trip. I started to be angry with myself for just quitting, for giving in, and for being so weak. But now I know that that was okay too. It is okay to be “weak” every once in a while.
How to cope with homesickness
But if you want to be different, if you don’t want the homesickness to win, embrace it. I still get homesick on my travels now, but I know how to deal with it.
I embrace my homesickness rather than feeling ashamed of it – I talk about it with fellow travelers I meet on the road, because chances are, that they feel or felt the same way. I skype and chat a lot with my friends and family back home, I stalk their instagram and facebook – to feel a little more connected.
But I also watch TV shows every once in a while on my tablet or phone – TV shows that I watched back home too, and that kind of make me feel like I am back home.
But most importantly – I don’t feel sorry for myself. When I am homesick, I just tell myself that right now, I am feeling homesick and that that’s okay, and that’ll pass – sooner or later. And then, even if I don’t feel like it, I go outside. Whether I’m walking around the city, taking a walk in the woods, or just sitting in the common room of the hostel – I am doing something, I am interacting. And that’s important to keep going.
If you want to be stronger than homesickness – as I mentioned – embrace it. But also, in some way, “fight” it – talk to people, make new friends, go exploring, do anything – except lying in bed, watching TV all day, and feeling sorry for yourself.
And believe me, it will pass.