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
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
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.