“Do you ever get homesick when you’re away?”
“Actually no. I find I just get travel-sick when I’m home.”
I’ve had this same conversation with a lot of my friends and family who find it difficult to comprehend that I like to go away for months at a time, on my own, and don’t feel homesick. Instead, as I tell each and every one of them, I only feel travel-sick*.
*Not in the motion-sickness sense of the word.
I can confidently say that I have never felt like I wanted to go home when travelling. I have never felt like I missed home so much that I would rather not be travelling. No experience when travelling has ever made me regret the decision to travel. Do I miss my friends and family? Of course I do! Do I sometimes get stressed and worried when things don’t go to plan? Sometimes, yes. Do I think that it’s all worth it for the chance to experience new places and people. Absolutely.
I have always believed that we create our own experiences, and only we can decide whether it’s going to be positive or negative. When you travel, shit happens. The hostel turns out to be horrible, the bus is 3 hours late or google maps sends you to the wrong place. But you know what? A crappy hostel makes for an interesting travel story to tell/warn other travellers about, a late bus gives you an extended period of time to read your kindle or chat to a knowledgeable local and as for google maps? That’s a lesson in the merits of a paper map and directions from someone who knows the area.
To avoid homesickness I fully believe you have to throw yourself into every situation and embrace whatever is thrown at you.
I have never ever disliked anywhere I’ve been. I think it’s impossible. Every single place has something to offer, you just have to put the time into finding it. Anything can make a place – the weather, the architecture, the people, the hostel, the animals… the list is endless. I think if you can find that something, it will stop you wishing you were somewhere else, or home.
I have Philadelphia in mind here, which on first impressions I was unsure about, but after 4 days of exploring the stunning parks, streets and squares, I fell a little bit in love with. You can check out the posts here, if you’d like:
What about when something happens that might make you homesick? When I was in Kotor, Montenegro, this summer, I had the unfortunate phone call from my mum telling me that my cat of 17 years had to be put down. The news wasn’t out of the blue – she was old. But she was also a member of the family and I was incredible close to my cat. I was upset. Luckily, I had planned for a long stay in Kotor so I spend my ‘sad day’ lying in my hostel bed, watching films and eating crap. Before the day was out, I decided I didn’t want to remember this day as being sad and holed up in my (slightly dodgey) hostel room. I headed out for a late afternoon walk, visited the many cats of Kotor’s cobbled streets, ate a hefty slice of pizza, bought some cat fridge magnets and watched the sun set and the lights come up over the harbour. I knew I had to turn the tragic news into a positive day and I felt all the better for it. I didn’t feel homesick.
I’m not sure this sense of the word actually exists, but it definitely does in my vocabulary. This for me is the feeling I get when I reluctantly board the airplane after a couple of months falling in love with the places I’ve visited. The feeling that pushes me to the brink of tears when we ascend into the air and I survey the stunning country I’m made to leave. That rubbish disappointment when I unpack my backpack and all of the leaflets I picked up for no reason spread across my floor. The proud feeling when I look through my photos or tell a friend about one of the places I visited. It even creeps up on me when I jump on the bus to head to a new place after having the best time at a cracking hostel with new friends.
Sometimes I can mistake travel-sick for making me sad. This is wrong. Travel-sickness (in the non motion-sickness way) is an unbelievably happy feeling that you felt so strongly for a place that you genuinely feel a sadness for missing it. I feel so lucky that I’ve had so many incredible experiences that lead to me feeling travelsick.
Do you feel homesickness when you travel? Or travel-sickness when you’re back home? I’d love to hear what you think.
Thanks for reading.