At some point, especially if you’re an expat abroad living the expat life or are thinking of becoming an expat, you’ll have to figure out how to beat homesickness. It might that you miss your family, or maybe a particular meal you can’t get, or maybe you’ll miss an important moment in a friend’s life.
Whatever it is, we’ve been there. Feeling homesick is a totally natural part of being a traveler!
But you don’t have to stay in the blues just to prove you miss your family. Here are some great tips for travelers and expats to use when you feel homesick.
How to beat homesickness tip #1: Keep a blog
I originally started my travel blog thinking it would fade out because no one read it.
I was shocked to find out how many of my friends from back home look out for new posts and want to hear about my life. It encourages them to write me long emails and tell me all about their lives as well.
You’ll also connect with other bloggers who know exactly how you feel. Starting a blog has never been easier, with a ton of courses available to you as to how to start, and even, how to make money blogging.
Get out and explore
If you sit at home saying you have seen it all, you’ll just mope around thinking about all the things you are missing back home.
Yes, you are missing so and so’s birthday party and you can’t make that awesome show, but there are always things happening right where you are- find them and go!
Even just a walk through a new neighborhood you haven’t seen yet can be enough to shake you out of homesickness and back into excitement. Traveling is a privilege and a joy, and you’re doing no one a favor by staying home feeling sorry for yourself.
Take up a new hobby
One of the best things when it comes to how to beat homesickness is embracing your new life. You’ve got a new start! No one will say “You’re playing tennis? You hate tennis” or scoff at your new interest in crafts or cooking.
You can pick something you have always wanted to try or even something you have never even heard of- just give it a shot and keep yourself busy.
Think about the things that are local to the area you’re in. If you’re in Argentina, can you take tango lessons? If you’re feeling homesickness in Italy, why not learn how to cook homemade pasta? Your ability to fully immerse yourself in new culture is one of the best benefits about becoming an expat. Don’t waste it!
Pick up a camera
Need a reminder of just how special the area you live in is? Head outside with your camera and try to take some pictures of your new surroundings! Anything from parks to bus benches can feel cool and different, so teach yourself how to take photos of where you are! One day, when you’re no longer living abroad, you’ll look back on these photos and be happy that you had this time.
Learn public transport
When I’m in a new city that I’ve never really explored, sometimes I just hop on a bus line to see where it takes me. It gives me the confidence to know that I can get home from however I got here, and it helps me to better understand the layout of the city: major intersections, where statues are, etc.
If you’ve got nothing to do, why not take a ride? Nothing makes you feel more like a local than being on the bus!
Find friends in the same position
Of course if you have no friends in your city you are going to be homesick all the time.
No one is going to replace the friends you have back home, but there are plenty of people worth meeting in the world. Find some other foreign friends you can relate to and then meet some locals so you can integrate into the culture.
Search Facebook groups for “Expats living in (your city).” Check Meetup.com. I guarantee you’ll find other people in exactly your situation, who might also be feeling homesick. Beat homesickness together! Feeling like you have a community is a huge part of an experience when you’re traveling long-term or living abroad.
Indulge in comfort food (occasionally)
I know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but neither is being miserable. If you’re wondering how to beat homesickness, this is a surefire way to feel closer to your home.
My comfort food is peanut butter and I live in Argentina where it’s hard to find. My mom and wonderful friends ship me Reduced-Fat Jif Peanut Butter and eating it always makes me feel at home. I also occasionally hunt down expensive American candy like Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bars or junk food like Pringles.
If you’re feeling homesick, let yourself have a snack that feels like home. And then get out and move your body in someway, whether it’s by doing a little yoga, going for a walk, or just stretching.
Schedule virtual hangouts with your family
When this article was originally written, expats really relied on Skype to stay connected. But now 9 years later, we have a ton of tools to help you feel more connected to home.
Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, you name it. All you need is an internet connection to be able to see your friends and family again.
It’s important, however, to remind yourself to use these calls sparingly. It can be too hard on the heart to talk constantly to your family, and might keep you from enjoying your present life.
I’m not saying I have mastered homesickness or anything, but I have definitely eased the pain.
My whole life I have always been happiest when I am busy, so being in Buenos Aires certainly won’t change that. The more stuff I have going on, the less time I have to worry about what I am missing back home.
I also know that I am creating amazing memories and stories to tell. Find something to do that is worth writing home about!