It's inevitable that at some point in your travels you'll find yourself feeling homesick. It happens to everybody who travels at some point and can be extremely debilitating. There's not much you can do to prevent it from happening and you'll find it sneaks up on you when you least expect it—maybe a restaurant reminds you of your mom's home cooking, or a photo of your friends at a party without you pops up your Facebook feed—whatever it is, it can leave you feeling depressed for days.
Here are some tips and advice for conquering homesickness and getting back into your happy place on the road.
Take Some Time out for Yourself
If you find yourself longing to fly back home, you can wallow in self-pity for several days. A lot of homesickness might have to do with culture shock and not feeling comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. You can combat this by treating and rewarding yourself as much as you can.
One of the ways to do this is to book a private room in a hostel, with air conditioning, fast Wi-Fi, and a hot shower. You can buy huge chocolate bars, download some of your favorite TV shows, and spend the day in bed feeling sorry for yourself. You can also go for a massage or a spa day, get a haircut, or read a book in a park. Another way to help is to Skype with friends and family back home and let them know you miss them.
It's all about bringing a sense of normality into your life when traveling. Just a few simple indulgences can lift your mood and get you back on your feet again. Just be sure not to let the wallowing last for more than three days, or it can convince you the best thing to do is cut your trip short and fly home—you'll regret making such a decision in the long-term.
Sign up for a Tour
Tours take your mind off of feeling homesick by teaching you a new skill, helping you meet new people, giving you a new experience, or simply helping you take your mind off your homesickness for a day. Even if you're a solo traveler, you can take group tours.
If you're staying in a hostel, you'll most likely find that the staff there run tours for the guests, and if that's the case, that's one of the best options for homesick travelers. Not only will you not have to spend hours researching the best option for you, but you'll find it easier to make friends when you're traveling with people who are staying in the same accommodation as you.
For everything else, there's Viator. You can browse Viator for tours and check out the reviews.
Buy Gifts for Loved Ones
If you're missing friends and family, why not go on a shopping spree and buy some gifts to send them? If you don't have much room in your backpack then you can send a couple of postcards to let them know you're thinking of them.
You'll feel reconnected to the people you love, and know for sure they're still thinking about you. A selfless good deed will help lift your mood as well.
Build a Routine
We usually associate home with routine—after all, at home we often do the same thing every day. We eat at the same time, go to school or work every weekday, and head back home to party or sleep. When you're traveling, you don't have any kind of routine to stick to and your body can be left feeling confused when it doesn't know what's going to happen each day.
Try forming a routine for a few days to get some normality back into your life—go to the same cafes and restaurants for your meals, eat at the same times, and hang out with the same set of people at the hostel.
Talk to New People
Aim to take your mind off your homesickness by making friends with new people, whether in your hostel, in a cafe, or at a park. This will keep you distracted and take your mind off your sadness. If you choose to speak to people in your hostel, it's likely that your new friends will have struggled with homesickness at some point in their travels, too. They'll be sympathetic, give you a shoulder to cry on, and be able to offer some helpful advice.
You won't get over your homesickness in a few hours just by telling yourself to pull yourself together—it may take a week for you to start to feel better. Be patient, take the time to understand why you feel this way, and know that eventually, you'll feel better and ready to start exploring again.
Remind yourself of how far you've come on your travels and how you managed to follow your dreams in order to make this happen. Maybe you've saved for years for your dream trip, or finally scored that study abroad you've been eyeing up for a while. Remind yourself how much you've achieved and how successful you've been so far. Think positive, and your mood will soon follow.
If staying inside and feeling sorry for yourself isn't helping your mood, then try keeping yourself busy. Go and see the main tourist sites of wherever you are, have a coffee, or go to a bar. Don't sit on your laptop worrying about what people are doing back home. Go outside and sunbathe on the beach, and just do whatever you feel like doing. Exercise while you're traveling. Keep busy, and you'll soon find that homesickness will be the last thing you're thinking about.