Are You Traveling Alone and Feeling Homesick?

Come, sit beside me! We’ll lean on each other and be comforted. My tips for overcoming homesickness when you’re traveling solo will help you feel less alone. One of the healthiest ways to cope with loneliness while you travel is to share your story. Feel free to write what’s on your heart in the comments below.

I recently got back from a month-long solo pilgrimage in Nepal, Dubai, and Hong Kong. I wasn’t homesick because I’ve learned that writing in a travel journal helps me feel less alone (read 10 Best Travel Journals for Solo or Group Trips if you haven’t tried journaling when you’re homesick). But, I did have to learn how to handle the pain of seeing starving dogs in Nepal. The last time I struggled with homesickness was when my husband and I were traveling in Croatia. I was homesick for my dogs. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized I the real reason I was homesick in Croatia: we were staying in people’s apartments instead of hotels.

When you stay in people’s apartments, you don’t interact with other travelers. You don’t get travel tips, interesting stories, or restaurant suggestions. You stay in your own little tourist bubble…and being in my own little bubble made me feel homesick. How about you — why are you struggling to overcome homesickness right now? Write about it in your journal, or the comments section below. Sometimes it helps to pinpoint the specific reason. Hopefully, so will my tips on how to overcome homesickness for women traveling alone :-)

Another tip is to avoid spending a lot of time on Facebook – especially if it makes you feel more homesick, sad, and lonely when you’re traveling. A reader emailed me, saying her plan to overcome homesickness while volunteering in India was to connect with her friends and family on Facebook. This would be a colossal mistake for me. I feel lonely and left out when I see all the happy people on Facebook, so I avoid it. Especially while traveling alone.

I originally wrote this article a few years ago, when I was on a solo trip in Germany. I was desperately homesick, and decided it was the perfect time to make a list of tips for solo women travelers. Writing about overcoming homesickness was comforting and even uplifting because I didn’t feel so alone. And that’s why I encourage you to write your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below. Consider responding to one of the other reader’s comments. I can almost guarantee that encouraging and helping another woman traveling alone will help you feel less homesick.

8 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Those unpleasant, even sickening waves of homesickness can actually transform you. Feeling sad and lonely often reveals truths about yourself that you can learn no other way. You can’t distract yourself the way you could back home…and you get in touch with your true self.

“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

1. Go on walking tours and talk to your fellow travelers

coping with homesickness women traveling solo
Traveling Alone and Feeling Homesick?

One of my favorite things to do on vacation, whether or not I’m traveling alone, is to go on walking tours. In Germany I joined a free walking tour – a free one – and met another Canadian, two Indians, an American, a Peruvian, and two Germans. The walking tour of Munich was informative and entertaining, and I liked chatting with my fellow tourists. Some of them were women traveling alone, too – which made me feel less lonely and alone.

Are you shy about taking to new people? Read 7 Easy Ways to Make Friends When You’re Traveling Solo.

2. Check your email – but not if it makes you feel more homesick

I’m a writer, so my laptop is with me here in my hotel room in Munich. In fact, I spend a good portion of my day working in my room, and the rest of the time I’m wandering the streets of Munich. I check my email regularly throughout the day, which helps fight homesickness. It definitely helps that my husband emails me often to keep in touch. If you’re not married, keep in close contact with a friend, partner, or family member (even if you are married, keeping in touch with several people definitely helps to fight homesickness when you’re a woman traveling alone).

3. Try to name your feelings of homesickness

“Homesick” is a general, vague term. “I feel homesick” means different things to different travelers. For instance, as a 50 year old woman my feelings of homesickness aren’t about missing home as much as feeling lonely for God. I didn’t grow up in a traditional home; I was in foster homes for much of my childhood. My mom is schizophrenic, I didn’t meet my dad until I was 29 and traveled to Jerusalem, Israel (talk about a transformative travel experience!). So, my understanding of homesickness is different than yours.

What does homesickness mean to you? Do you feel lonely, or depressed, or anxious, or scared? Maybe you feel self-conscious or inferior. I don’t know how you feel. Do you?

4. Be alert for opportunities as a solo female traveler

More people talk to me and invite me to join them as a woman traveling alone. When I’m with my husband or in a group, I don’t get to know my fellow tourists or the locals in the same way. I’m also easily tired by conversation and even being in crowded places; I feel less homesick when I’m traveling if I stay in big cities and busy neighborhoods. I also find that making eye contact and smiling at people makes them more apt to talk to me – especially in hotel lobbies, and hostel shared kitchens.

5. People watch – my favourite way to overcome homesickness

I’m an introverted writer; I find a white wall fascinating! I could literally watch paint dry on a park bench. One of my favorite things to do in airports, cities, in hotel lobbies – anywhere, really (except for trains and buses, because new people don’t pass by as often) is people watch. You can’t do that in the same way when you’re with others, because you’re too busy talking or pointing things out. One way to overcome homesickness is to focus on the things you love about traveling alone.

6. Keep a running monologue of your visit on your phone or iPad

Remember those old-fashioned things called “tape recorders”? I carried one with me in Europe when I was 18 years old and traveling alone! It was the summer of 1998, I had the summer off, I was a student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I took along a tape recorder and a handful of blank tapes, and talked to my sister throughout my trip. It was a great way to overcome homesickness – even though she never did listen to any of the tapes when I got home. Either did I. But it helped to talk to her all the way through my trip!

7. Get inspired by The Solo Female Travel Book

Are You Traveling Alone and Feeling Homesick

The Solo Female Travel Book: Tips and Inspiration for Women Who Want to See the World on Their Own Terms by Jen Ruiz – a former lawyer turned travel blogger and bestselling author – has traveled the world extensively by herself. This book is her latest addition to her how-to travel series, and includes funny stories, tips and encouragement.

Remember that this, too, shall pass. You may be feeling lonely, homesick and even frightened right now – like that a little camper on her first sleepaway trip. But you are in the right place, you are doing the right thing, and you won’t regret one money of this trip when you get home! So don’t let those feelings of homesickness and loneliness keep you down for long. Let them pass through you…and then pick yourself up, shake yourself off, and get back on the road.

8. Give yourself permission to feel homesick

“I admire you for traveling alone,” said a 75 year old American man next to me on the flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. “I know I could never do it! I’d feel lonely and insecure.” Sometimes it’s hard to travel alone as a woman because you feel self-conscious. You may think that people feel sorry for you, or think less of you because you’re a solo tourist. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: People don’t judge you for being a woman traveling alone – they admire your independence and courage!

No matter what people think or say, you are on this pilgrimage for a reason. Remember that reason, and hold on to your faith. Know that all will be well, and all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

How do you take care of yourself when you feel lonely and homesick? Listen to your body; give yourself the love and compassion you need. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Above all, remember that your feelings of homesickness will pass. Before you know it, you’ll be back home and wishing you were traveling solo again.

For more tips, read What If You Get Homesick While Volunteering in India?

Travel in faith, and be transformed! And feel free to say hello below.

Laurie

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19 thoughts on “Are You Traveling Alone and Feeling Homesick?”

  1. Thank you for these tips for overcoming homesickness, I appreciate it. I am from India (Mumbai) and traveling through Canada. I am in Vancouver right now which is why your blog probably came up when I search for tips for women alone in their travels.
    My problem is the only way I overcome homesickness is to meet people. Vancouver is not the easiest for meeting people. How do you make friends when you are traveling alone and don’t feel confident about your English?
    Namaste
    Priya

    1. Great question, thank you Priya! I wrote this article for you:

      7 Easy Ways to Make Friends When You’re Traveling Solo
      https://www.theadventurouswriter.com/how-to-make-friends-solo-female-travelers/

      I hope it helps. I forgot to mention your discomfort speaking English, but know that Vancouver is a global destination as well as a city filled with newcomers and old-timers from every part of the world. Very few of us were raised speaking English as our first language , even if we were born here :-) Some locals have lived in Canada for decades and still have strong accents from their previous countries. So, try not to let your grasp of English stop you from taking to new people and making friends.

      Travel in faith,
      Laurie

  2. Thank you for this! I know it’s an old article but it came to me just in the right moment. I’m traveling solo in Bali for a month, and feeling very homesick. It doesn’t help that i met the man of my dreams a month ago, and i miss him like crazy now when i’m away. Like you say, when i was single i had no problem being abroad by myself, but now it just doesn’t feel the same. Feeling a little less lonely now that i read your article :) I almost felt a bit pathetic earlier today due to the fact that i’m in paradise but still feel homesick, but now i know that it’s not that strange. Will see if i book an earlier flight home or not. Thank you! / Isabella

    1. Thank you for your comment, Isabella – how wonderful that you’re exploring Bali by yourself for a month! Wow. Yes, feelings of homesickness are hard…and completely normal. I found myself feeling lonely and a little homesick last month — I spent 2 weeks in New York City by myself. But I found the little bouts of homesickness came and went, and then all of a sudden I was back home and wishing I was traveling solo in NYC again :-)

      Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of. Know that you will always, always look back on this month in Bali and cherish it. This will be one of the highlights of your life. I hope you don’t book an earlier flight home, but I’ll understand if you do. But you may regret going home early…

      Let me know what you decide! I’d love to hear from you again.

      Blessings from Canada,
      Laurie

  3. Thank you, Lizzie – I’m so glad to hear from you! Evenings and alone-times are definitely the worst….especially when you’re tired and worn out. Traveling is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting, isn’t it? This makes homesickness more difficult to overcome.

    Please do come back and let me know how things are going in Thailand. I went to Vietnam last year, and it was so different than what I’m used to…I was homesick, too!

    Wishing you all the best in your travels,
    Laurie

  4. Hi. I know this is an old article but it’s still really relevant! I’m traveling around Phuket in a week. It’s so beautiful but I can’t help but feel extremely homesick. It seems that during the day, I can be distracted by things going on and then as soon as I’m by myself, the feelings of isolation come back. I just wanted to thank you for writing this article as it helped a lot! X

  5. Thanks for your comments – I’m really sorry I missed them until now. Angelface, I don’t know how I missed your comment, as I really want to be there for women traveling alone who are homesick. I’m sorry.

    If you’re still out there, please do comment. The same goes for all women traveling alone – you’re not really alone!

  6. Hi I’m in new zealand on my own. just started work as a nurse! I miss my boyfriend terribly but find helps to keep busy sight seeing tours where I usually get chatting with others. I am 24 hours flight from home and if i want to go home I can but I prefer to take the challenge and cherish each moment. I can work out here for a year but probably work for 6 months! once in lifetime opportunity even though it’s tough at time the good times outweigh the bad

    Jane

  7. I travelled alone so many times around the world and now I can’t anymore. I feel so anxious a couple days prior my departure that I cancelled by air ticket several times. The first time it happened was in 2007. I dont know if I suffer of agoraphoabia (the fear to go far of home). It started between 30-40 years old. It is really boring because I like travelling so much. It is not a problem when I stay in Europe where I live. But if I plan going to Asia for example I cant anymore. Are there some of you which experienced that ?

  8. Hi Laurie,

    I am now in Holland, remember me?
    4 months already and I am still home sick and battling depression:(
    I need to talk to somebody, I hope I can talk to you.

    Take Care

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear AngelFace,

    I love your name! :-)

    And I’m so excited for you. I’ve been to Amsterdam, and LOVED it. The people are so friendly, the cities so clean, and English is spoken everywhere. Well, that’s how it was 20 year ago, anyway :-)

    You would not believe how fast a year goes by, my friend. I lived in Africa for 3 years, and wish I could do it all over again. I didn’t savor the moment. Instead, I focused on how homesick I was and I wished I wasn’t a woman traveling alone. All I thought about was what I wanted to be different, not what I should be enjoying.

    I hope you keep in touch while you’re in Amsterdam….and I hope you don’t feel too homesick!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  10. Hi Laurie!

    I love your article! Next month, I will go to Amsterdam and spend a year there as an Au pair. Thinking about it, I feel homesick already! I researched on how to overcome homesickness and good thing I found this article! This made me realized that I really should savor the moment and think about it as a once in a life time experience. If only I could tag my boyfriend along, it would be awesome, I guess I just have to keep our communication open until we see each other again! Thanks Laurie!

  11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Melissa,

    I’m glad you found these tips for homesickness – I hope they show you you’re not the only lonely woman traveling alone :-)

    When I was in Prague a couple years ago, the weather SUCKED. It rained/snowed/rained for the whole five days, and the Charles Bridge was half closed due to upgrading construction. I was so disappointed; I really wanted a better experience of Prague.

    Are you staying in a hostel? When I travel alone, I always stay in hostels so I can meet other tourists. Even if I don’t hang out with or go sightseeing with them, I find it comforting to just listen to their conversations in the dorm rooms and at the tables. Truthfully, I’d rather listen than talk, so eavesdropping is perfect for me.

    The month will go by so fast…and when you get home, you might even wish you were back in Prague! And, these times of homesickness, isolation, pain, and struggle really are the best things that could happen to us. I spent 3 years teaching in Africa, and found it so difficult. I was lonely, and didn’t connect with many of the teachers I worked with. But, looking back, I wish I could do it over and let go of my homesickness and fear.

    Let me know how you’re doing – I’d love to hear how you’re spending your days.

    Blessings, and happy trails to you,
    Laurie

  12. Thank you for this. I am in Prague for a month, and I have never felt homesick before until this time. I don’t know why. I feel so alone. The weather is bad, too, which doesn’t help. I’m here taking classes for a month, and I am not even looking forward to it anymore. I am trying to remember that it is only a month! But every time I sit still all I want to do is cry. It’s helpful to know that I am not the only person who feels this way sometimes. For now I’m just trying to get through it.

  13. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Amber,

    I’m glad you shared your story here — and very sorry to hear that you’re so homesick and ready to go home! I’ve traveled alone alot, and know how lonely it can get.

    And yes, I think your words will help other women who are struggling with homesickness! They’ll see they’re not alone.

    I encourage you to find someone at the hostel who is a kindred spirit. You’ll feel so much better if you connect with someone you have things in common with — someone you can talk to about how you feel. You’re not the only one traveling alone for months, and you’re definitely not the only one struggling with homesickness! The trick is to find people in the same boat as you.

    Let me know how you’re doing…

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  14. Hi. I also found your article after doing a search desperate for some help in combating the emotional confussion of homesickness. I have been travelling for four months but have a year off work and a ticket valid for 12 months. At this juncture however I feel I want to go home now. I am travelling solo and the last six weeks have been a struggle. I haven’t meet many people and have hit a depression. I can’t get motivated to do anything as the thought of doing things alone is now too much. People say get out and meet people but I’m not actually finding it that easy. Plus I think my mood is such that I’m not approachable and would make awful company. I feel like I’ve failed by going home early and such stick out the coming months even if I’m miserable. Part of me feels like this trip was just running away from everything at home and actually I want to go home and tackle things head on; like find another job, do some volunteer work, and join some clubs, rather than leaving it for another 7 months. Being on my own I also have far too much time to think and even with this time my feelings seem no clearer! I talk regullarly with family and friends but don’t want to much about how low I feel as they’ll worry. It has helped writting this all down here but just makes me feel emotional and when staying in hostels with not a private place to yourself the red eyed, just-been-crying look isn’t a good one! Thanks for the opportunity to vent if nothing else. I also hope this posts helps anyone else that is also beating themselves up, feeling low, or just emotional. You’re not alone and we are only human at the end of the day :o) Best wishes.

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Laura,

    Thanks for your tips how to overcome homesickness tips for women traveling alone! It sounds like you’ve had quite the adventure — I can’t imagine traveling for 7 months. What a life changing experience it must’ve been….you won’t be the same woman when you get home!

  16. I found this searching for ‘Solo traveller homesick’ as unfortunately the homesickness bug has hit me :( Right now I’m travelling solo through Europe and I’m basically at the end of my trip (8 weeks to go!) Been a massive learning curve so far as I’m 19, first time living out of home and will have been gone 7 months. Some ways to cope I’ve found include bringing along a little notebook of pictures of friends, family, funny in-jokes etc. Listening to good music from home also helps, as well as keeping a travel diary. Even just writing down how much you miss home is very therapeutic! Great read as well, all of your tips are handy :)

  17. A reader found this article about fighting homesickness by Googling the words “fighting homesickness.”

    It’s been almost a year since I wrote this article, and now I don’t think we should “fight” homesickness! It’s a natural part of being away from home, and we should accept it and even embrace it…and NOT fight it.

    How do you accept and embrace homesickness? By writing about your feelings, talking about feeling homesick with the people around you (not just those back home), and figuring out the root of your homesickness. Are you lonely? Then find ways to get more involved in the activities around you. Are you seriously depressed? Get help from a doctor.

    If you have any thoughts on accepting or fighting homesickness, please share them here!