5 ways to thwart homesickness

Homesickness.As every traveler knows, sacrificing the comforts of home can be difficult. Strange foods, inclement weather, and lying in bed at night without the one you miss the most (your dog) can all lead to the ruination of your vacation or trip. Particularly when you’re somewhere very different from your usual surroundings, the pangs of craving the ease of your normal routine and the desire to share your new experiences with loved ones back home can be crippling.

It’s a good idea to address the possibility that you may get homesick before you leave. Here are 5 ways to thwart homesickness — things you can do before and during your trip to help stave off the blues.

1. Photographs. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in this digital age, many of us don’t carry photographs with us anymore at all. It’s nice to have something tactile with you that you can take out on the top of a mountain or on a boat in the middle of the sea. On the flip side, having a hard copy will keep you from sitting in your room stalking your loved ones’ Facebook pages.2. Talk. My friends who’ve been solo backpacking in foreign lands all say the same thing: you’ll never feel more alone in a crowd than when you don’t speak the language and nobody knows you. It’s fortunate for us that many countries in the world speak English, but there are still plenty of places where you can go and be totally linguistically helpless. After a day or two of struggling to communicate, you may feel like shutting up altogether — but don’t. Think about it as developing your non-verbal skills. If you don’t continue interacting with the people around you, you will almost definitely get bored and/or sad. And you will want to go home.

3. Keep moving. In the great tradition of “fake it till you make it,” keeping yourself occupied means less time to pine away. It’s that simple. Just get out of that hotel bed, put down that phone, and go experience something, even if you don’t want to.

4. Limit your contact with home. While cutting off communication altogether is unnecessary, those from whom you are away are bound to respect your need to be just that: away. Constantly reading e-mails may make you worried about the office, constantly calling home will get you too involved in the day-to-day stuff which can probably be dealt with without you or wait until you get back. If saying “goodnight” to your honey is your crutch, go for it, but don’t waste your precious sleep with any of that “you hang up first” nonsense. Say “goodnight” and rest up for another exciting day.

5. Bring yourself a comfort item.
Nobody has to know that you still sleep with a nightlight or a teddy bear, or that you deeply love Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (which you can totally make with most hotel coffee-makers), or that you like to watch your dvd of Mary Tyler Moore reruns when you’re lonely — but these are all things that are easy to bring along on almost any trip. A simple thing like your favorite trinket on the nightstand can help you feel grounded when you are far from home.

Got more ideas? How do you keep from getting homesick on the road?