When you travel for long periods of time, or indeed if you’ve found your Neverland and have moved away permanently from your oldest friends and cherished family members, missing that fond, comforting, and wonderful place you call home is a cert.
Now for the non-travellers out there, the cynics, if you will, you’ll simply say ‘well if you miss it that much just GO HOME you whiny prick.’ However, for the nomads amongst us, we know that our lives are and will never that simple. You see, when you decide to travel, you have all of these dreams and fantasies about what it will entail, what places will look and smell like, what types of people you’ll meet, how sick you’re going to get and what embarrassing traits are going to be exposed (thinking I’m Beyonce/Rihanna and Tina Turner all rolled into one when hammered). But when you actually embark on your journey, wherever that may be, the reality far surpasses anything you could have imagined.
When you travel, your life really does change. And I may be one of the lucky ones where all the good has far outweighed the bad on my trips abroad, but believe me there have been tough times from being hospitalised in Koh Tao, was told a few minutes more and I would have literally suffocated myself (allergic reaction to a random pharmacy ‘antibiotic’) to finding out I had a bacteria faecal growing in my bowel from bad chicken in La Paz, to having to cancel visiting Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia due to my friend having a seriously bad infection from a mossie bite, to being skimmed of £4000 in Rio – believe me, it’s not all dancing in the street. But isn’t that what life is all about? Having these tests thrown at us and seeing how we survive? It’s your right of passage into adulthood, if anything.
And because these events, highs and lows, shape the person you are you hold on to those experiences for your entire life, they are as much engrained in your memory as the feeling of eating your mum’s roast dinner, to when you first hold your nephew, to prosecco giggles with your girls. It’s this constant inner turmoil of wanting new experiences that fight with the old, loving and familiar ones that makes dealing with homesickness, really, really, really hard.
In September this year, I have been permanently away from home for two years, give or take. Home for Christmas once and back for a besties wedding but apart from those minor touchpoints that fly over far too fast, I have been building a new life for myself. Why do I want a new life? My old life was great, I’ve an amazing family, had a fantastic social life, hobbies, my own flat and furniture to my tastes, I had the luxury of taking exotic holidays, I had my dog for Christ sake! There was genuinely nothing wrong with living in my hometown, there was also nothing extraordinary about it either and for some selfish and unbeknown-to-me reason, I want an extraordinary life. Moving abroad made me feel one step closer to that.
So, how do I deal with homesickness? .
- Make a list
I love a list so when I am feeling despaired I write a list of all the things I love about my new life from my job to my house to my new friends. Don’t bother with a cons list, who needs the negativity?
- Utilise technology
With technology these days, it’s so easy to have real, face-to-face conversations with your family and friends, whether it’s a group Skype session to Facebook’s video messenger or silly Snapchat videos back and forth – you will feel better after seeing them, trust me.
- Get active
Exercise does a lot more for you than help keep your bikini body toned. It’s been proven that regular exercise can help with stress levels, depression, mood swings etc. I know that when you’re down the last thing you feel like doing is getting sweaty and sore but it really does work, if anything it acts as a distraction – no one ever feels worse after exercise! However, if you really can’t face it just head out for a brisk walk to help clear your head, even this small endeavour can work wonders – when you’re on that walk why not call home and check in with Mum?
- Keep busy
For me homesickness doesn’t just hit me out of the blue, there are triggers. The first one being milestone moments that I am missing such as weddings, birthdays, Christmases and sadly funerals. The emotions that strike me when I miss these are usually anger and frustration and a sense ‘why the hell am I away from home??’ The second is when I am bored, when I’m bored my mind wanders to home, which then makes me look at social media, naturally stalking my friends and family to see what they’ve been up to but I also look back at my own pictures and it makes me long for those happy nights out, lunches with family and weekend getaways and I feel regretful, selfish, just a bit of a dick to be honest. I am very aware of this behaviour so I try and stay busy as much as possible whether that is going to the gym, writing this, planning trips here in Oz, making new friends, going on dates, visiting markets, whatever it is just do it and also learn to not be so hard on yourself (I am trying).
- Book a trip
Save your money and book that flight home! Actually having a set date that you will be able to hug and kiss your loved ones is a massive weight off your shoulders. Your family and friends will start planning celebrations in your honour; you will naturally be in touch with them more with the excitement, which in turn makes you feel less lonely and more connected to your home. A pit stop at home will rejuvenate you and give your confidence in what you are doing is the right thing for you at this moment in time. I am using my tax rebate to book my flights home for Christmas this year…one thing I have learnt over the years is Christmas, for me, HAS to be spent at home.
And if it really is too much, the homesickness, there’s no shame at all in throwing in the towel and returning home for good or at least a few years until the travel bug hits again.