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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

5 Tips for Fighting Homesickness During Long-Term Travel

Whether you call it travel burn-out, lonely discouragement, or just plain homesickness, it strikes almost every long-term traveler at some time. Like all emotions, homesickness will fade away and disappear with time. That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't positive ways of combating it. if you’d like to face homesickness head-on while you’re traveling, here are some tried and true tips for getting through those down times.

1. Make human connections.

You don’t have to be fluent in the local language to connect with the people you’ll meet on a regular basis. The elderly lady working at the kiosk down the block will recognize you after you've stopped there a few times: give her a smile and a friendly greeting. Ditto the other travelers using that internet café you frequent. You don’t have to set up long-term relationships to make basic human contact with the people you’ll see more than once during your stay. Learn a few basic phrases in their language, greet them with courtesy, and you’ll be surprised how soon your homesickness will disappear.

2. Stay in sync with the world around you.

If you’re staying in a town or city for more than a day or two, find out what local events are going on and make a point of attending. Participating in local holidays and fetes, parades and festivals, national celebrations of all sorts can connect you, even temporarily, with the place you’re traveling through. Experiencing local events can give you an almost instant grounding, making it feel less foreign and strange.

3. Don’t let yourself get too tired.

Sometimes feelings of homesickness and loneliness arise from the sheer exhaustion of travel. Rushing to connect with transportation or stressing out over lost luggage can drain your physical energy quickly, leading to feelings of discouragement and a longing for home. Give yourself a break and get plenty of rest and regular meals. Develop a flexible routine for sleep, meals, laundry, and sightseeing. By doing so you’ll minimize homesick spells.

4. Get in touch with someone back home.

Whether you phone home or Skype, keeping in touch with what your friends and loved ones are doing can make a world of difference. Sometimes just hearing a familiar voice can wipe away feelings of loneliness and discouragement: they’re still there, they’re thinking about you, and they’ll be waiting for you when you come home.

5. Orient yourself.

“Stand in the place where you are,” R.E.M. sang, and when you’re traveling far from home, getting yourself fixed in one place, even though you’ll be staying there for just a little while, can work wonders for your sense of belonging and location. Where is your hostel located in terms of the city center? Where are the major avenues? Where are the closest metro stations? Imagine how you’ll get around the town or city where you’re staying if you return in five years.

In the end, accept homesickness as a part of the experience of long-term travel. Seasoned travelers know that, when you long most acutely for home, you’re actually integrating all that you've experienced during your trip into all that you've been before. You’ll emerge a person with a larger heart and soul, surely one of the greatest of the rewards you garner when you venture out of your comfort zone to experience the world beyond your door.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Documents International LLC, a leading apostille service for individuals and businesses.

The flower carpet in Bruxelles, Belgium
The flower carpet in Bruxelles, Belgium