The most important message to relay here is that you’re not the only one! After the excitement of planning a trip, googling the destination and imagining what your life will be like, on arrival these expectations can sometimes be far-flung from actual reality.
It’s reassuring to know that lots of people experience home sickness when they are away for long periods of time, and it is perfectly normal to be craving something familiar and comfortable to fall back on. The situation will only be made worse if you beat yourself up about it, so try and work through those feelings because there is a likelihood that they will pass.
Here are some tips on how to avoid homesickness and make the most out of your experience. Remember travelling usually has to come to end so you don’t want to be kicking yourself when you get home about how you hadn’t taken full advantage of it.
1. Don’t isolate yourself
If you’re feeling sad and missing home, make sure you get out and do as much as possible. Socialise with other volunteers, workers and travel buddies and make sure you are busy all the time. By sitting in your room and isolating yourself, you will only feel more lonely, and be thinking about your family and friends. Plan your week and make the most of your time and experience because it won’t last forever.
2. Bring your creature comforts
It may seem silly but bringing something small and meaningful with you on your travels may make you feel reassured and calm in times of anxiety. A little bit of home to carry with you in a foreign land will remind you of the people you love and the place that you live. You will also start to appreciate all the new sentimental items that you will pick up on your travels and more than likely treasure in the same way when you get back.
3. Ask others for help
If you find yourself struggling then talk to other travellers, project leaders and those who are helping to plan your trip. Everyone will have useful advice and support for you and may also be in the same situation themselves. There may be small issues that are bothering you such as the toilet facilities or nervousness over transport options. Remember there is always someone locally who is an expert in helping those less experienced in finding their way – so don’t be afraid to ask!
4. Get to know the area
If you are staying in one location for a good period of time then get to know place and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. One of the main reasons people feel homesick is that everything can feel alien. This is a form of what is often termed ‘culture shock’ and is experienced by many. Learn where your local supermarkets are and how easy it is to get to them. Go for walks or take a tour to get to know the sights. Study maps, volunteer in the local community and read up on the history of the place. Not only will this make you feel more at ease, but you will benefit by educating yourself and in the future more than likely be sharing your wisdom with others.
5. Stay connected
This is a case of finding the right balance. It’s a great idea to have that support from friends and family at home, but make sure that you are not reliant on them. The whole point of travelling is to experience new cultures, places and people. Don’t spend the whole time on your phone pining for home. Set up a Whatsapp or Facebook group, you can share stories and photos and generally keep in touch with the people who are interested in finding out what you are doing and being reassured that you are safe. Instagram is a great forum for storing your trip photos and having lots of memories when you return home.
6. Try to stay fit and healthy
As we all know there is nothing worse than a bout of Delhi belly, altitude sickness or heat stroke to make you feel like packing it all in and heading home. It is impossible to know whether any of these may strike at anytime, however there are ways in which you can try and prevent incidences as much as possible. Take precautions by being very careful about the water that you drink, use for cleaning your teeth and for washing vegetables and salad. If you are prone to sunburn then cover up where possible and use high factor sun creams. Try to eat as well as possible and avoid too much alcohol as this will dehydrate you and add to any sickness symptoms. If you are hiking, diving or travelling in humid places then it is always advisable to try to reach a level of fitness before you leave for your trip and during your time overseas. This means that you will minimise your chances of having to opt out of certain activities.
If you would like to find more advice about what to expect when taking a trip with Oyster then have a look at our personalised ‘more information’ sections on each of our project pages.