How To Cure Homesickness

How to cure homesickness - tips about getting rid of homesickness when traveling abroad

Homesickness can be a serious downer in the face of all your globe-trotting and passport-stamping. There you are, eating gelato while looking at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and allofasudden you’re overwhelmed with a desire for some mall food and a matinee with your best friend.

There’s not one-size-fits-all, airtight cure for homesickness, but these tips have helped through five years of living abroad and 35 countries.

Ways to Cure Homesickness

Stay in touch with people from home.

No, I mean really stay in touch with them. Not just the ‘once a month’ update stay in touch, but the ‘several times a week, hey remember how I told you about that guy?’ stay in touch.
This will really help ease you into your new home, before you’ve made any new friends or really gotten accustomed to your surroundings. It is not an exaggeration to say that when I move to a new place, my best friend can expect daily emails, detailing the new food I’ve eaten, my most recent cultural faux pas and the caliber of fashion in my new home.
Good friends will probably be really excited/intrigued by your new adventure and email you back pretty quickly. You won’t feel so alone in this strange new place, knowing that someone knows exactly what you’re up to.

Think about what you’re really homesick for

Are you homesick for your friends? Your family? Food, language, weather, hobbies?

Of course, you probably miss all of these things in varying amounts, but it can be helpful to parcel them out and decide what you miss the most. If you really miss your friends and family, Facetime ’em.

Find an expat group, travel somewhere that has the snow/beaches/maple trees that you’ve been missing, find some restaurants that serve a reasonable facsimile of your homeland’s food.

Create a go-to homesickness ‘first-aid kit’

When you feel a bout of homesickness coming on (mine usually came around 2 pm on overcast Sundays) turn to your fail proof treatment. This might be a comfort food from home coupled with familiar TV shows or movies and a call home. Or it might be a visit to a mall or an ice skating rink or a national park.
When I was living in Taiwan, my triage plan was 1) go to the import store and buy refried beans and salsa a) eat burritos with Tamara while watching SATC c) go to the upscale bookstore and pay $7 for a copy of Glamour. This got me through the two typhoon seasons.

Try to push through it

I think it’s also important not to indulge your homesickness too much. Just as we often sugarcoat our time abroad, it’s easy to view home through rose colored glasses and lose sight of all the amazing things going on around you.
Get out an explore your new home, even if it’s just for a few hours at a time. Limit yourself to a few phone calls per week and one session of emailing per day. Try not to compare this new place to home. More likely than not, they’re apples and oranges.

Realize that homesickness is an unavoidable part of travel

Just like there will be days where you hate your job and nights when you question your decision to be with your partner, there will be times that you are fed up with being away from home.
You can’t read the signs, everyone stares at you and you can’t find clothes that fit to save your life. That being said, I know that one of the proudest days in my life was the day that I had to send in my passport to get more pages added.
You never hear people say “God, you know I really wish I hadn’t spent that summer volunteering in Greece.” Travel isn’t always easy, but if you realize that there will be tough days, you will be less likely to take them to heart.
And you can always, always go home.
What would you recommend, friends? How do you deal with homesickness?
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

11 Comments

Bridey

I haven’t found homesickness too much of a problem in the last few months.

One of the reasons is that I’m travelling with my boyfriend, and have also seen heaps of friends from home who are also travelling (one of my best friends lives 5 mins walk from my house in London).

The second reason is skype. Weekly video calls to my parents really make it feel like I’ve seen them recently.

And frequently changing scenery also helps – I haven’t been in one place for more than 2 months since March!

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cheray natalie

I never really got homesick when I travelled either! Lately I’ve been travelling with the boy or friends or family… but when I travelled by myself I stayed in touch with my friends through daily emails and blogging, and I’d stay at backpackers and just talk to everyone I met! Backpackers are always so busy, you’re sure to meet someone you get along with…
It’s just a matter of being open to new experiences (hmm…I should take my own advice on that one! I’m so used to travelling with others now…)
😀

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Jackie

I get homesick a lot while at college.
Oddly, I miss my cat a lot. I just want to cuddle up with that furball as I’m falling asleep at night. But, sadly he’s not there =[

Mostly, I just keep in touch with family and friends. And, that usually seems to diminish the home sickness.

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La Belette Rouge

We have been living in L.A. for six months and I am so homesick for Chicago that I dream about it and wake up feeling existential dread that I am far from my home. Le sigh! Well, I don’t cope well and I have nothing to add to your great post. But, I do have things to learn from your post. Merci!
p.s. did you see that I tagged you on my meme for today?

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Sarah Von Bargen

Jackie: I really, really missed my cat too. I remember jumping on him after bypassing my parents when I came home from Brazil

Rouge: I didn’t know you were from Chicago! I somehow imagined you as a born and bred LA-er. Thanks for the tagging me on the meme – I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

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young

I don’t really have trouble with homesickness either, but this guide will be nice to have if I ever do start longing for home and feeling sad.
I think one of the reasons why I don’t feel homesick is because I don’t really have a place that I call “home”. There is no place I feel a very strong attachment to.
Only people, and they are in my computer on text and cam and voice, so I still have them with me 🙂
Not to say I don’t miss touching them, because I do! It just never gets so bad that it makes me sad.

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Romeika

I never had homesickness while travelling, but since I left my country to come to Denmark, I sure experienced it in the first few months. I find the tip about being in touch with family and friends in a daily basis very valuable. But the most important of all was having support and comprehension coming from someone who loves me.

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Yaya

Great post Sarah. I spent my first winter in Scotland watching Sex and the City and treating myself to meals from Indian restaurants.
Christmas is the hardest time, make sure you arrange to spend it with friends. One of the best cures for homesickness if your single is a wee affair. Nothing like a dash of romance to make you live in the moment.

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Gem

i haven’t been overseas since 2004 (sad trombone) but last time i travelled, i went to germany by myself for a month. i found the first week was the hardest, homesickness-wise. But that may have also had something to do with the fact that I had just broken up with my first boyfriend a week before I left…

Reply

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