What to Do if You Get Homesick During Your Trip

Homesickness doesn't have to ruin your vacation.
Puzant Apkarian / First Light / Getty Images

Homesickness is not just for college students.

In fact, homesickness is a perfectly normal feeling. Missing family, friends, pets, food, and even your pillow is a very common experience for travelers of all ages.

While feeling homesick can sometimes come from culture shock (another perfectly normal reaction to being away from home), homesickness is just as likely to occur in your own country as it is at a foreign destination. Missing family, familiar routines, friends, and pets are normal feelings.

Homesickness can make you feel sad, tired and isolated. It is hard to look forward to a travel day when you are missing your loved ones. Given time, however, homesickness normally subsides, especially if you are traveling in a place that is very different from your home.

Here are some ways to push homesickness aside so you can enjoy the rest of your trip.

Accept Your Emotions

Homesickness is normal. You are not a bad traveler if you miss being at home. Instead of berating yourself for spoiling your own travel experience, look objectively at the situation. You are away from home, you miss being at home and that is okay. It is also okay if your homesickness sticks around for a few days or if you feel like having a good cry. These emotions are normal, too.

Phone Home

E. T. had the right idea. Find a WiFi hot spot and use a smartphone app or Skype to talk with your family. Yes, you will feel sad when you hear their voices, but you will also be reassured that they are happy and healthy. They will be supportive if you explain the ups and downs of your trip, and this support will help you manage your feelings of homesickness.

Talk With People

Particularly if you are an extrovert, part of your homesickness may stem from your need to interact with other people. Take a class, go on a short guided tour, stay at a youth hostel or find some other way to talk with people and recharge your emotional batteries. If you feel comfortable mentioning your homesickness, you may be surprised to find that other travelers understand just how you are feeling. They, too, have been homesick.

Find the Familiar in an Unfamiliar Place

Sometimes we get homesick for something – anything – familiar, like a newspaper in our own language, a movie we can understand or a soft drink with ice in it. Find a fast food restaurant, newsstand, foreign language movie theater or some other place where you can do something just as you would back home. Indulging in familiar activities and foods will remind you that travel is temporary and your home will be there when you return.

Spoil Yourself

Treat yourself to something you enjoy. Take a warm bath, buy a bar of chocolate, read a book or head to the prettiest park in town and go for a walk.

Get Moving

Exercise can clear your head and motivate you to continue your journey. If your hotel or cruise ship has a gym or swimming pool, consider adding a light workout to your daily routine. Walking and bicycling are also great low-impact ways to get some exercise.

Create a Routine

Some travelers miss the structure of their regular lives when they are on the road. They feel a bit out of control when they are away from normal routines. Take charge of your personal routine by doing some of the things you would do at home, such as exercising or reading, at the same time each day.

Look for Humor

Rediscover the habit of smiling by finding something funny to listen to, watch or read. Comics, books, YouTube videos, humor websites and TV and radio shows can bring a smile to your face. Facing homesickness becomes easier when you realize you have not lost the ability to smile.

Change Your Plans

If your homesickness becomes truly debilitating, consider cutting your trip short and going home or to a place where you have family or close friends. There is no reason why you should put yourself through an emotionally crippling travel experience. While this solution might not work if you are on a cruise or guided tour, it could help if you are on a long, independent vacation.