DEALING WITH HOMESICKNESS
Current month 13:
Location: Tokyo, Japan
One of the big issues we face is dealing with homesickness while traveling.
How long does it take you to start to feel homesick when you are away from home?
A few days? A week?
What do you start to miss the most? Your bed? Your routine?
When you are full-time traveling the world, homesickness becomes a new companion in your life. You’ve made a huge leap and you expect life to be different, so sometimes you can ignore it.
And then sometimes it screams and you just can’t ignore it anymore: you miss home.
One of the things I’ve thought a lot about in the last few months is what is “home”, really?
What is homesickness?
I can tell you for sure it is not a building or furniture or things. Sure, I’d love to have a great night’s sleep on the fancy mattress we bought a few months before we left. But I don’t get homesick for it.
When I used to miss “home” in earlier travels, I would miss my routine. I would miss people. I would miss my family members (if they weren’t already with me).
Guess what? I have those things with me!
I have my family with me, which helps with dealing with homesickness a lot. Five precious children talk to me non-stop throughout the day. (I’m a little embarrassed to think how many times a day I say “please stop talking” to a child or two so that I can buy tickets, talk to a taxi driver, comfort a screaming sibling, etc).
I also have my best friend with me 24/7! My husband Chris is 100% my BFF and I’m so glad we don’t have to be separated for more than a few hours, at most, at a time.
Right now I don’t have a routine, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been living a super flexible lifestyle for many months.
So if I don’t miss my family and I don’t miss my routine, why do I still hear from my homesick companion sometimes?
Why do I sometimes get the punch in the gut, out of the blue, yearning for “home”?
I don’t even know what that home is! We don’t have an actual home anymore. I cannot picture a place.
Honestly, I don’t know the answer. I do get homesick. Sometimes it is for certain people. Sometimes it is for a different kind of life; a life that is easier than this one, one that is more comfortable and safe.
My children get homesick too, but are in the same situation as me. When I ask exactly what they are homesick for, they can’t really tell me. Sometimes they name a friend, but often they can’t really verbalize it either.
So how do we shut up that homesick ghost that lingers in the background? How do we deal with homesickness as we travel the world?
We connect with each other.
I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but you can spend a whole lot of time with a person, physically, and not really connect.
Most of us have experienced this in some of our relationships. It can even happen when that person, or people, are the only relationships you really have at the time!
It’s good to take a moment and slow down. Try to really connect to each other. For my kids, this usually means I need to have some unscheduled time with them. I need to let them lead our lives for a day or two and be present with them. With Chris, we need to leave certain topics out of conversation with each other for a few hours and connect emotionally.
We clean the wound.
Just like the sting of cleaning a fresh wound with antiseptic, sometimes we dive straight down the hole of homesickness and just bathe in it. We talk about all the things we miss. Old home videos with the Christmas tree or the friends we miss the most are replayed. We talk of our old traditions. It stings, but it also soothes in a way – to just embrace the discomfort and acknowledge that it is there. Sometimes we grieve a little bit for the life we left.
The kids have a favorite game they play, which is to dream design our future home. It stresses me out a little bit, honestly. Not even knowing where home will be, I can’t give them any solid ground for their dreams to stand on. They don’t care.
They talk of the color of their rooms, their stuffed animals they will have on their bed, their lego table we used to have. I think it brings them a sense of peace to dream about it.
Chris and I do this much less, but we still do it. We have a running “short list” of the places we want to live. Right now it is Kauai and Singapore. We also dream of a home in Sundance for the ski team. We hope for a future that feels settled and will let us sink in some roots.
At the same time, we fear not being mobile! Such a dichotomy.
We roll with the bad days.
Some days are just hard. We have to remind ourselves that we had hard days at home. Often actually! Kids complained at home; had tantrums. We argued and had emotional setbacks.
It’s OK that all these things happen on our travels too.
We say to ourselves a lot “this problem would probably still be happening at home too”. It’s the same for days where you are just a little bit sad. Even if you are in a city you’ve dreamed of being in your whole life, sometimes life catches up with you and you get homesick.
We seek for a higher power.
This is a personal one and we all come from a different place, faith wise. Perhaps you believe in meditation or connecting with nature. Perhaps you believe in God. I don’t think I can do this life alone and I try not to feel like I can. We seek for help, often. I try to admit that I don’t have all the answers and I must rely on a higher power.
Guess what? It’s OK to be homesick!
Even if you are in your own home, sometimes you are dealing with homesickness for a time of your life, for a phase that as passed, or for a feeling you can’t quite capture.
This took me a while to accept. Yes, we chose this life and worked so hard to get here. It isn’t a defeat to admit that we miss pieces of a past life.