Homesickness isn't just for college students.
In fact, homesickness is a perfectly normal feeling. Missing family, friends, pets 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), I have found that I get just as homesick in my own country as I do when I'm across an ocean.
I miss my family, my routines and my pesky-but-adorable cats. I even miss cooking my own food. In fact, this is one of the reasons I enjoy renting vacation cottages; I don't miss my own home quite so much if I am staying in a place where I can cook for myself.
Homesickness can make you feel sad, tired and isolated. It's hard to look forward to a travel day when you are missing your loved ones. Given time, 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 Feelings
Homesickness is normal. You aren't 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's also okay if your homesickness sticks around for a few days or if you feel like having a good cry; that's normal, too.
E. T. had the right idea. Find a WiFi hotspot and call or Skype with your family. Yes, you'll be 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're 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. If you feel comfortable mentioning your homesickness, you may be surprised to find that other travelers understand just how you're feeling. They've been homesick, too.
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 you would do back home. Indulging in familiar activities and foods will remind you that travel is temporary and your home will be there when you return.
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.
Create a Routine
Sometimes I miss the structure of my regular life when I'm on the road. I feel a bit out of control when I'm not in a routine. Take charge of your routine by doing some of the things you would do at home, such as exercise or read, 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 haven't 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. 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.