Avoiding homesickness

It can hit you in the strangest of places, when you are sitting on a long bus ride watching the scenery rushing past, when you’re walking down a street and suddenly realise the city is full of couples, or when you’re witnessing an amazing sunset and get a pang of sadness that you don’t have anyone to share it with.

Those bouts of loneliness happen to us all, and even the most experienced solo traveller is telling a little white lie if they say that they don’t feel it every now and again, especially if they’ve been on the road a while. Having fleeting relationships on the road whether romantic or as new-found friends can make you feel even lonelier when you have to part as people move on. 

Being so far away from family and friends, it’s natural to get a bit homesick so next time you feel a bit down, try one of the following:

Before You Go

  • Prepare yourself before you travel and ask a friend to be your solo buddy and contact them whenever you feel down to remind you why you are on this trip.
  • Take a photograph with you of a loved one or a souvenir that reminds you of home.

Get Some Interaction

  • Maybe it’s just some company that you need. If you’ve been staying in hotels and haven’t seen another person for days then check into a hostel for a night to get that social interaction back again. Or it could be the other way round and you need some space after too much company. Treat yourself to a hotel even if for just one night.
  • Get some interaction. If you’re in a hostel, sit in the common area and smile at the next person that comes in the room.
  • Go to a coffee shop and people watch over a latte.
  • Look for a solo travel meet-up in the city or town you are in. Solo meet-ups are a great way to meet other solos.
  • Treat yourself. Book yourself in for a massage or a hair cut, and get pampered. Sometimes you just need that human touch.
  • Join a local running club or go to a free dance lesson.

Get Outside

  • Get out there and experience outside and explore, even if it’s just for a short walk.
  • Sit in a local park and watch the locals.
  • Put on your running shoes or rent a bike to get those endorphins flowing again.
  • Go to the cinema, grab some popcorn and watch a film even if it’s with subtitles (not a sad one though as it’ll make you feel worse).
  • Find some nature, whether it’s a beach or a park, take yourself off and admire Planet Earth.
  • Do something touristy that interests you whether it’s going to a museum, taking a ride on a tram or just trying some local street food. Immerse yourself in your surroundings.

Get Inspired

  • Lose yourself in an inspiring book. Find one about travellers and their tales of the country you are travelling in or educate yourself about the country you are in.
  • Listen to your favourite song. It’s proven that music can uplift your spirits so put on your favourite track and dance around your room (unless it’s a slow one which can make you feel worse).
  • Do something that will make you laugh. Watch a comedy sketch or your favourite comedian on Youtube.
  • Lose yourself in a football game.
  • Go window shopping and try on clothes that you would never ever wear or buy some new clothes which you would if you feel like splurging.

Push Yourself

  • Look in a guide book and write down what you want to see in the next few days and get excited about your trip again. Plan your next day and make the most of every minute because you will never experience this day again.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and test your limits. Think about everything that you’ve wanted to do that you’ve been putting off so far. Book that bungee jump or take a surfing lesson to make yourself feel empowered.
  • Learn a language or throw yourself into a task to take your mind off how you feel. Your mind can generally only concentrate on one emotion at a time so train it to learn instead of thinking of memories and feeling sad.

Get On The Net

  • Share your trip with others and upload your images on Flickr or Facebook.
  • Contact a loved one (although this could make you feel temporarily worse (but only for a milli-second). It’s so easy to connect with home with the power of Skype, so give someone from home a call just to hear their voice. Find an internet cafe or just download the Skype App for your phone. Even if you really don’t want to talk, just messaging a friend via Facebook can help.
  • Join a travel forum and speak to others. Read other travel blogs on places you’re heading to to get some ideas on what you want to see.
  • Ask for a virtual hug on Facebook.
  • Help someone. Whether it’s going onto an online forum and giving someone some travel advice or donating some money to a worthy cause. You could always see if there’s a volunteering placement within your local area to help out for a day or two. Helping someone who needs it will make you feel so much better and help you to forget how you’re really feeling.

Useful Websites

Skype – Free calls to friends and family.

Wifi Free Spot – Wifi hot spots.

Spiritual

  • Smile – it’ll make you feel better, at least for a split second.
  • Be grateful. When was the last time you really thought about all the good things in your life? Make a list and say thanks for everything: for the amazing people you have met on your travels, for the chance to grow as a person and for all the lessons you’re going to learn on the way.
  • Think about why you left and the reason you wanted to travel as a solo. Was it to learn about other cultures, become more empowered or gain more confidence? Remind yourself how lucky you are to be travelling and doing something that so many people will never have the opportunity to do.
  • Meditate. If you’ve never tried it before, find a quiet place to sit or lay and breathe deeply counting to five each time you breathe in and breathe out. Allow yourself to feel calm and let go of any thoughts. If a silent meditation is too difficult, listen to some relaxing music or one of the many guided meditations on Youtube to help guide you.
  • Write yourself a list of everything you’ve achieved since you’ve been away: you’ve finally read that book you wanted to finish, you’ve overcome your fear of spiders, swam with whale sharks and sailed a yacht for the first time. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for how far you have come.
  • Write down how you really feel then everything you achieved today. You may be surprised at how liberating this can actually be. As soon as you give your feelings an outlet, you can feel like a weight has been lifted from your mind.
  • Get healthy. Too many nights overindulging will take its toll on your mind and have an impact on how you feel. Make a mental note to grab a fruit salad for breakfast, switch your evening pizza for a salad and have a couple of days off the wine to allow your body to catch up with your mind.

Look outside the box

  • Maybe you’re just feeling a bit too comfortable or trapped and need to get on a bus to a different part of town. Sometimes a certain area can make you feel out of sorts but you don’t realise it until you’ve moved onto the next. Look at moving on.
  • You may be missing a routine especially if you’re used to working 9-5. So make a new routine, whether it’s just frequenting the same coffee shop and getting to know the staff or going to the same place for lunch, sitting in the same park. It will give your mind a sense of familiarity and make you feel grounded.
  • If your trip seems too daunting and you’re having doubts that you can do it, break it down into smaller chunks. Look at your next step. If it’s getting to the airport then research the best way, then look for somewhere to stay. Sometimes having to plan everything by yourself can be overwhelming especially on days when all you want to do is hide under a duvet so making it more palatable will give you the confidence that you can do this by yourself.

Don’t give up

Allow yourself to feel lonely and let it pass. Cry into your pillow if you need to and just let it out, knowing that you will feel so much better tomorrow. Travelling solo you will get lonely but there are lots of other solo travellers out there just waiting to meet you. Remember that you can get just as lonely at home too and at least you have your freedom on the road.

Believe in yourself that you can do this and ride it out. Don’t book that ticket home yet…

My tip –  Take everything one step at a time and your feelings of loneliness should pass but if you are really suffering from prolonged depression, look at getting some help or commit yourself to just a few more days then if you don’t feel yourself improving, look into options of flying home or visiting a friend along the way.

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