Traveling and exploring new places can be fun but, if you’re anything like me, you get homesick easily. Three days into my vacation and I’m already dreaming about sleeping in my bed back home surrounded by everything I’m comfortable with. If this scenario sounds similar when you travel short or long distances, follow these six tips on how to feel more at home when you’re abroad.
1. Bring some sort of comfort object
Just because you’re not a kid anymore doesn’t mean you have to abandon the concept of a comfort object. Take something with you that reminds you of home or allows you to relax in some way. For example, whenever I go on vacation I make sure to take my favorite oversized sweatshirt and my laptop. These are two pretty regular items but, they honestly make me feel like I’m home. Being wrapped in a sweatshirt bigger than me provides a sense of safety, while having my laptop ensures that even without Wi-Fi I can open up a Word document and let my thoughts run. Of course, I could type things on my phone, but my laptop allows me to immerse myself completely, which I find helps. Basically, find what makes you feel most at home and take that item with you.
© Matthew Paulson
2. Download a free messaging app that crosses borders
My least favorite part about traveling is being away from my best friends for an extended period of time. If you feel the same, make sure to download a messaging app that works with a Wi-Fi connection. If you’re traveling to places that lack a good cellular connection for whatever reason, an app that runs off of Wi-Fi will sometimes be easier to message with than regular text messaging (well, as long as you have Wi-Fi wherever you stay). I went to Vermont last year, which quite possibly had the worst connection of all time throughout the entire state, and these apps saved me. If you’re going out of the country, be sure to download a messaging app that works internationally too. I prefer WhatsApp because you can message, call others and is free.
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3. Stick to a similar morning or night routine
This can be hard to do when your body obviously knows it’s taking a break from your normal schedule. However, if you try to recreate a particular routine in a different place, you might feel more comfortable. I personally like to mimic my morning routine, which includes waking up, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, and then eating breakfast respectively. This is the exact process I follow pretty much every weekday. Personally, it helps my body and mind stay organized while feeling like there have only been minor adjustments made to something I’m so used to. Plus, if you choose to follow your typical morning routine, you can save time and get on with various activities quicker. While it might take a little bit of the spontaneity out of your travels, it definitely can help with homesickness.
4. Bring your pillow from home
Hotel beds can have some of the worst pillows on the planet. They’re either too stiff or too hard and rarely ever have a decent density. Bringing your normal pillow from home can eliminate this annoyance as well as provide you with additional comfort. I never sleep right without my personal pillow, because I’m just so used to the specific feeling of it. Also, a pillow is small enough to carry without taking up major space in your luggage. This also relates back to the importance of comfort objects and the effect they can have.
5. Look at pictures on your phone
Ok let’s be honest, you’re not going to forget what your friends, family, or pet looks like while on vacation. However, it can be comforting to see their faces even though they aren’t physically in front of you. Take pictures of your cat or dog right before you leave so you can remind yourself of what you get to come home to. Scroll through recent or old pictures of your friends and family and think about when and where they were taken. Sometimes you become so immersed in your thoughts, it’s as if you never even left. And if you feel like that’s not enough, make your home screen a picture of your favorite humans or animals and every time you unlock your phone, you’re bound to think of them back home.
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6. Watch familiar television shows to unwind
If you need some time to unwind, try watching some of your favorite television shows. If you have Netflix or Hulu, you can virtually watch whatever you want, whenever you want. If you don’t have Netflix, your hotel probably has a television where you can find something that reminds you of home. I recommend watching old series you’ve seen a million times just because the acquaintance with the characters and plot carry a sort of comfort with it. I always end up watching Friends on vacation because it’s one of my favorite shows, I’ve seen a majority of the episodes, and the familiarity of it makes me feel relaxed. Now, it’s almost a tradition for me to fall asleep to Friends whenever I travel around the states.
While it’s normal to feel homesick, try not to get caught up in wishing you were back home. Adventures around the world can be some of the best memories and you may not have the opportunity to visit every place twice. Make the most out of your vacation with the short amount of time you have. And don’t forget, you’ll always have your home to go back to.