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!
I just experienced this while being laid up sick! Gettin’ on Skype to talk to my friends/family really helped. Great suggestions!
My home is where I happen to be because I’m there by choice, so home sickness is an unknown concept to me.As I never fail to say: I’m a true nomad at heart.
Good tips Rease! Hopefully, people living abroad find a good network to rely on for support and encouragement when the homesickness strikes. I felt a little bit of that when I was traveling around for a month in Europe. So culture shock, adjustments, and being away from home has to be tough after a while. I think writing, whether a journal or blog, is a great way to deal with some of this.
I agree, blogging helps so much. You connect with your friends back home and tons of other people.
Been there this is one of the things that suck when youb4re an expat, i also mssied my friendb4s wedding and broke down as well, the same goes along when I miss events at home, that are just at home, none celebrated here and I sometimes feel i want to do some things that are typical icelandic. I just have to remind myself of the good things that i have here and enjoy the icelandic things while Ib4m back at home (or find some icelanders here in vienna, who are missing the same things). if you ever feel down and want to talk about it, im here HUGS!!!!!Anna C
Great tips Rease! I like to combine these – as in, my little expat family and I will plan nights/trips to eat Western food or go to Western/expat bars. Just a little taste of home once a week is really all we need.
Reconnecting with friends and family is definitely extremely helpful. I find that I miss home the most when I’m not focusing on myself and my well-being so I try to make time for myself and my hobbies, like photography or learning to play the ukulele. Yes, I am carrying a ukulele with me in all my travels! It helps me stay sane.
Ukulele! That’s awesome! I always think of Corey’s lost dream when I think of Ukuleles…Boy Meets World, anyone?
Great suggestions! Skype is so good!! I remember when I first moved away (to Egypt) and had to schedule phone calls from my mom via Fax to the hotel lobby of we wanted to talk…. Now? Just a click away for no money except internet of course. I rarely get homesick (luckily). Probably because I visit friends and family abroad once of twice a year, so that helps. If I do feel it, little trips in my “new country” help. Maybe you could schedule a little weekend trip for yourself?
Good tips! I love your “comfort food” idea… nothing says home like a jar of Jiff 🙂
Hey Britta, I just discovered your blog and I am relaly enjoying it! I have lived in vienna for a year now, i moved here from LA too, to study opera at the conservatory. When i moved here last year I didn’t have any homesickness. I think i was so ready to leave the US and try something new that I just didn’t care about the differences in the culture. This past summer i spent 2 months in the states and just got back 3 days ago. I have been having a difficult time since being here and homesickness is taking its toll. I relaly love vienna, but it is frustrating to be in a foreign culture and cant do the same things as you do in your home country. I miss my friends and family of course, but i also miss stores being open later, or buying low fat foods at the supermarket, or Pam cooking spray!!! I know it will get better, but it will take some time. Are you part of an expat community here?
Great tips, Rease! I think it’s cool that you watch movies with people on Skype. 🙂
I listen to my favorite playlist while eating chocolate- or like you- peanut butter!! I also try to look around for the nearest fellow Filipino and speak with them in our native language. That does the trick.
Skype is fantastic isn’t it! I can’t tell you how excited John’s parents are when we do a video call – so much better for them than when he used to travel alone before we met sans computer.
You can now add Magic Jack to your list. You only pay $20 a year for free long distance calls, that way you don’t have to use a phone card. All you have to do is register your home address and you’ll get an American number. This works great with my family and they can always leave me messages if the Magic Jack isn’t hooked up to my computer.
I also agree w/ blogging. I find it therapeutic and allows me to sit down and write what I have learned while here in South Korea, as opposed to just going here going there and then bam I’m in my room.
LA well that about sums it up. I don’t miss the crazy drivers or the trffaic. Just the fact that I go days, even weeks, without getting into a car is amazing to me! I was home (California) in July as well. I will have to check out the Mexican restaurant from your earlier posting, that is the one food I miss the most!
Pingback: Finding a Family Away From Home — Go! Girl Guides
I’m finding it really hard at the moment, I think it’s Christmas time that makes it worse! 🙁