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 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 my biggest tips and advice for conquering homesickness and getting back into your happy place on the road.
Take Some Time Out For Yourself
If I find myself longing to fly back home, I allow myself to wallow in self-pity for several days. A lot of homesickness, for me, has to do with culture shock and not feeling comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. I aim to deal with this by treating and rewarding myself as much as I can.
I'll book a private room in a hostel, with air conditioning, fast Wi-Fi and a hot shower. I'll buy huge chocolate bars, download some of my favorite TV shows, and spend the day in bed feeling sorry for myself. I'll go for a massage or a spa day, get a haircut, or read a book in a park. I'll Skype with friends and family back home and let them know I 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 -- I'm speaking from experience when I say it's likely 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. I'm a huge fan of taking tours as a solo traveler, and highly recommend them if you're missing home while on the road.
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. I love browsing Viator for tours and checking out the reviews to check their safe, enjoyable, and likely to be the highlight of my trip. They're usually my first port of call when I book a trip and am keen to take a tour to keep myself busy while I'm there.
Buy Gifts for Loved Ones
If you're missing friends and family, why not go on 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 a 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 college every day 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 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, 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 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 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, do whatever you feel like doing. Workout while you're traveling. Keep busy and you'll soon find that homesickness will be the last thing you're thinking about.