When it comes to travelling, it has many perks. You get to see various parts of the world, experience different cultures and more often than not it is one of the best times of your life. You feel a sense of independence as you learn more about yourself that many consider travelling as the perfect way to connect with your inner soul.
It is the reason why so many people enjoy travelling and it sounds pretty awesome, right?
The reality however is that it is not always that glamorous. Because while travelling the world is extremely fun it can also be a daunting experience. Not only that but there is a common issue that prevents many from travelling abroad and that is homesickness.
But this is why we are here to help. As daunting as homesickness sounds, it really should not stop you from exploring the world and enjoying your time abroad!
We will help you overcome this anxiety with this blog. AIP has created a unique guide with recommended steps on how to deal with homesickness abroad and we can guarantee you that your worries will be sorted!
How to deal with homesickness abroad
Here is a small overview of how to deal with homesickness whilst you are abroad.
- What is homesickness?
- Tips for dealing with homesickness
- Let’s be friends
- Stay active
- Sharing is caring
- Bring “home” to you
- Focus on self-care
- Don’t lose sight of your habits
- Create a routine
- Quality “me” time
- Never stop learning
- Use your passions
- A positive mindset is a happy one
- Explore your surroundings
- Be kind to yourself
- Helpful Resources
- International Therapist Directory
The list may look overwhelming but worry not. We will explain to you how each bullet point can help combat homesickness. But before we do that let’s first explore the concept of homesickness and what it really is all about.
What is homesickness?
So what is homesickness exactly? You have probably heard of this term before. Do not worry, it is not precisely a sickness that you need to worry about although it certainly can feel one. Homesickness is referred to as “experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it”. This means the concept of missing your home when you’ve been away for so long. As mentioned, homesickness is a common form of anxiety that many people face!
Homesickness feels especially bad if you are not nearby or if you have been away for a long period of time. Not everyone has the luxury of suddenly jumping on a plane and flying back home.
Because while you may explore new things every day whilst out abroad, the lack of a sense of belonging and not being in an environment with people you want to be with can take a toll on your overall well-being.
What causes these emotions?
There are a variety of factors that cause homesickness. A common one is missing family and friends and the idea of “FOMO”, also known as “fear of missing out”. This especially worsens if you for example go through social media and see that all your friends or family are home and you are not. As the name suggests you feel like you are missing out and just miss being surrounded by people you love.
Another common reason is that you are in an environment that you are not familiar with and thus feel uncomfortable in. You essentially feel like an outsider. When you are “home” you know your surroundings and you know people so everything just feels right. When you lose all of that you can feel lost and you are longing for the same reception and feelings.
Then there is the disruption of lifestyle. When you move abroad, you have to make certain changes to your lifestyle. What many people fail to therefore do is adapt to their new lifestyle. The disruption of their normal lifestyle will enhance the feeling of homesickness because people miss their old lifestyle. They fear that they cannot relive that lifestyle.
The impact of cultural distance is often understated because it is a major factor in contributing to homesickness. Cultural distance is the result of the culture in your new environment being too different to your own. The inability to understand it and adapt your lifestyle to it will also lead to homesickness because for example what is accepted in your country or city, may not be in the other. Cultural distance is the one that will really make you feel alone and an “alien” essentially because you feel like no one understands you.
This leads to the next point which is essentially difficulties in adapting. The inability to adapt to your new environment will make you long for home because you understand the culture and feel like people understand you. The inability to adapt will make you feel like you are isolated and can make it extremely difficult to accept the culture and environment you are currently in.
Ultimately leading to a feeling of not belonging. Feeling like you do not belong somewhere is extremely painful and will only make your homesickness worse.
All of this is horrible because travelling to a new place is supposed to be a great experience. Homesickness can really take the joy out of travelling and it is one of the biggest anxieties most people face when travelling abroad for a long period of time. It is a shame because it really overshadows the beautiful adventure you had in mind…
But worry not! Now that we understand homesickness in more detail and the root of the problem, we can spend time trying to sort it out.
In the next section, we will discuss tips for dealing with homesickness whilst you are abroad so keep on reading!
Tips for dealing with homesickness abroad
While at times it can feel hopeless when dealing with homesickness it is important to not lose hope. Unfortunately, there is no magic button that will make it disappear altogether but it will require you to put in the effort as well and push you out of your comfort zone.
Trust us that if you do put in the effort, you could change the outcome for the better! There are a variety of ways to deal with homesickness abroad and we are here to help you overcome this so let’s get into it!
Let’s be friends!
The first thing is to really get yourself out there and make friends with locals. You really need to expose yourself to an environment where you are surrounded by others. Find a place that allows you to interact with people of similar interest whether that is a yoga class or a reading club, this is a great way to meet people and doing a common interest will make it easier to make friends. Being in a group environment will make you feel less isolated and everyone needs a friend!
Another tip for dealing with homesickness abroad is that you have to keep yourself busy. More often than not if you notice you have a lot of time, you get lost in your thoughts and this more often than not can worsen your feelings of homesickness.
Keeping yourself busy with activities such as pursuing your hobbies. Your mind will be focused on something else so you are not thinking about homesickness necessarily. Staying busy or active with activities is definitely a good way to keep your mind occupied with something else. For example, exercising is a great way to keep yourself busy. Not only do you improve your physical being but exercising releases endorphins that help combat anxiety and depression and help improve your overall mental well-being.
Sharing is caring
It is also important to note that while you feel like you may not want to disrupt others with your negative thoughts, keeping all these emotions to yourself is not good for your overall well-being. It is highly encouraged to share what you feel with your friends and family.
Of course, only you can decide which people you feel close enough to share this with but talking to close friends or family members can tremendously help. There is a risk that it could make you feel even more homesick but being able to talk with people that remind you of “home” can potentially ease it off as well.
Bring “home” to you
One of the biggest emotions homesickness brings out is the feeling of nostalgia, feeling like you are in a familiar environment. You have the chance to recreate those feelings of nostalgia by decorating your house that makes you feel like you are back home again.
It is the perfect opportunity for you to get creative and really set up your own living space the way you like it. So write down a shopping list because you are going to need it for your next trip to Ikea!
Focus on self-care
It is important that you do not let negative emotions control you. Remember, you have to be in control of your emotions and not the other way around. This is, of course, no easy feat but it is important that during difficult times you take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water and the list goes on. You need to take good care of yourself and practice self-care. Taking care of both your physical and mental well-being can do wonders!
Don’t lose sight of your habits
While your location has suddenly changed, it does not necessarily mean everything else has to as well. What we are referring to is that habits you have had back at home can totally be incorporated into your new environment. For example, if you joined a yoga class back home, explore places that offer the same in the nearby area. It is also a great way to get to know new people and who knows, you might end up making new friends too!
Create a routine
Often when we have too much time on our hands, we are guilty of dwelling on our thoughts and emotions. Not saying that having time is good, but having too much time could be the result of having no routine. Having a routine can help tremendously when combating homesickness. Ensuring you wake up every day at the same time, and planning your day beforehand will help you feel in control leading back to our point of the importance of staying active.
Quality “me” time
To really understand our emotions and how we feel we actually have to spend time trying to understand them. We should not ignore how we feel and hide from our problems. It is therefore important that you schedule a little “me time” in your calendar.
Whether this is in the morning or before going to bed, find yourself in a quiet and peaceful environment. Turn off your phone or put it somewhere you cannot hear or it will distract you. Make yourself comfortable, breathe deeply and relax. You do not necessarily have to meditate but it can definitely help! Sometimes it is necessary to “escape” so having some quality alone time every now and then could be something you need.
Never stop learning
Another great way to keep yourself occupied is by learning something new, like picking up a new hobby. Lucky for you, the possibilities are endless! Ever wanted to learn French? Do it! Never had the opportunity to join a cooking class? Now is your chance and the list goes on. Learning something new especially if it's taking particular classes is often done in groups so it's another great method to meet new people!
Use your passions
Just because you are in a new environment, you should not lose part of who you are. What we mean is that you can still fall back on the things you loved doing back home and bring that into your new place. If you for example loved volunteering back home, research some local volunteering opportunities. Not only will it bring back positive nostalgia but doing something you love automatically makes you feel better and gives you something to look forward to.
A positive mindset is a happy one
When people deal with homesickness, they are often in danger of drowning in their negative feelings. When you have such a strong longing for a place and are unhappy where you are, you will feel like there are very few positives. It is important that we cannot allow these negative feelings to take over completely.
This is where you have to work on your positive thinking. Try to find the good in the bad. So for example a great way of doing this is doing a daily journal of writing down one thing you are grateful for. This is especially great in the morning because it forces you to start your day in a positive mindset. It is easier said than done but if you get yourself into a habit of doing this every day, watch how your mindset changes for the better!
Explore your surroundings
A lot of times, when people feel homesick they completely disregard their current environment. While this is a normal thing to do, it would be a shame to miss out. What we mean is that without exploring your new city or country, you miss out on the best that place has to offer. It could be everything you look for but you would not know because you have not spent the time actually exploring it.
This is why it is a great idea to build a bucket list for exploring your new city or country. Find a new “favourite” place by researching the best thing to do and explore! Food always makes everyone feel better so indulge yourself in the local cuisine. Who knows? You might end up loving where you are but you will never know if you never take the first step. This is also a great way to immerse yourself in your local surroundings.
Be kind to yourself
The gist of it all is homesickness is a real issue that affects many people worldwide. So please, you are not alone when it comes to how you feel as it is normal. Everyone gets homesick every now and then and everyone has their own way of dealing with it.
What is important is that there are solutions. Do not allow your negative feelings to hold you back from missing out on what your new location could offer you. Remember that you should not rush or set yourself a deadline but really try to understand your feelings and act on them. Whether that is following some of our recommendations or using your own, it is important that you tackle this to change the outcome. Be kind to yourself during this difficult phase!
So there you have it, 13 useful tips and tricks you can use to overcome homesickness. We highly recommend you give them all a try and find the one that works best for you. Remember, homesickness will not last forever and as scary as it sounds it will also require you to put in some effort.
Trust us, the effort, in the end, will be worth it and before you know it, you (hopefully) will have such a great time abroad that you might not even want to go back home!
If the tips above did not work for you (we sure hope not) then we also recommend a variety of other resources that might be more helpful for you. From apps to online therapy, we have listed the best or most known down below. We highly suggest you give these resources a try as well!
One of the most popular apps on the Apple App and Google Play store, Calm is the number one app for sleep, meditation and relaxation. It has been downloaded over 100 million times and has more than 1.5 million 5-star reviews. Its mission is to make the world happier and healthier and it does this by improving your overall health and happiness by focusing on various health aspects from sleeping and meditating to self-improvement and various others.
Similarly to Calm, Headspace is an app that helps you find more joy, get more goodnights and make every day happier through its services. Headspace helps support your mental health and find a healthier, happier you using science-backed meditation and mindfulness tools that will create life-changing habits. The app is used in more than 190 countries with over 70 million members and over 600,000 reviews.
International Therapist Directory
An online listing of professional therapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists providing cross-cultural treatment and care for expats across the globe. In the directory, there are currently more than 300 therapists located in at least 40 countries. This directory is intended as a useful resource for internationals who are looking for culturally sensitive therapists.
Talkspace is an online therapy platform where users have access to licensed therapists. Users start off by taking a brief assessment where they answer a few questions about their preferences. They will then have a personalized match and will start therapy with their designated therapist. Talkspace offers a diverse range of therapy from online therapy, and couples therapy to teen therapy and psychiatry.
Betterhelp is the world’s largest therapy platform offering access to licensed, trained, experienced and accredited psychologists. This mental health platform provides online mental health services directly to consumers. Their counselling and therapy services come in a variety of forms from web-based interaction as well as phone and text communication.
So there you have it! Some useful apps and platforms you can use. While these are not necessarily for dealing with homesickness specifically they can help with your overall well-being. There are of course more apps and online services available. We suggest you give the ones above a go and find one you are comfortable with.