Tips for Homesick Travelers
Despite the fact that I often come off as a tough, unsentimental traveler (and I am, much of the time), I do suffer from some degree of homesickness on every trip I take. I find that both long and short trips have their own varieties of homesickness, and both are pretty miserable. Sometimes it comes from a build-up of small frustrations and cultural differences, other times it’s just a general sense of loneliness (since I almost always travel alone). When I travel, Marc stays home, and I miss him dearly as well. Homesickness sucks, and it can derail a trip if you let it.
Since nobody likes homesickness, I thought I’d write down a few of the tactics I use to combat it.
1. Go see a movie.
I used this tactic all the time in Korea. Whenever I was feeling homesick, grumpy, or tired of the land of kimchi, I would take a bus to the nearest city with a movie theatre and go watch a random American movie. Even with the subtitles at the bottom, it made me feel like I was back home in the US, and I always came out feeling better than I went in. I find that the less the movie makes you think, the better it works, so actions movies, comedies, etc, seem to work best (for me, at least).
2. Find comfort food.
Like some other travelers, I’m a huge fan of bacon. It’s one of my comfort foods, and eating it will instantly improve my mood. It was really hard to find western-style bacon in Korea, but I did find it after a few months, and fixing up some bacon and eggs for breakfast made me feel more at home. When I was in Switzerland, I found myself occasionally going into McDonald’s (*gasp* I know!) for fries. I rarely ever go for fast food in the US, but when you’re feeling lonely overseas, it can be a great panacea.
3. Make your lodging, however temporary, feel like home.
One of the random things I carry around with me when I travel is a photo of Marc and me in a picture frame. One of these days I really should get one of those travel frame things, but for now, my little 4×6 wooden frame works fine. I dragged it through Korea, and I will soon be dragging it through France. Whenever I stay somewhere for more than a day or two, I set it up on the bedside table or desk, and it makes it feel just a little bit more like home. Find what makes you feel at home, and consider bringing it along if it’s small.
4. Make sure to have plenty of “me” time and try to appreciate where you are.
Be sure to take some time to do things that you enjoy doing, even if they aren’t typical traveler activities. Take a nap in a park. People watch. Go shopping. Treat yourself to a nice meal. When the country you’re in starts to wear on you, do something that makes you enjoy it again. If you’re having a good time, you will often find that your homesickness fades pretty quickly. In Korea, I used to drive around aimlessly on my motorcycle and explore abandoned villages on the island I lived on. It wasn’t something I could do at home, so it made me appreciate where I was that much more.
So, those are the tactics I personally use to combat homesickness. What are some of your own tactics for combating homesickness, dear readers?
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