Missing Home

Missing home when travelling is a common and shared experience with a lot of travellers and backpackers, and it is felt by most at some point when exploring the world. Everyone has someone at home, whether that be close family, friends or partners that you will be leaving behind when you make the choice to travel. Many find it tough and struggle with not being around loved ones at times during trips, myself being one of them. This is a post on my tips and tricks, and what helps me when I’m feeling down about missing home.

I moved out of home in 2020 after I ‘finished’ my A Levels during COVID. I was accepted onto an apprenticeship at an outdoor education centre in a small town called Malvern in the Midlands, England. The centre, called Boundless Outdoors, offered onsite accommodation for their instructors, so on September the 7th 2020 my family and I moved all my things up to Malvern. I lived away from home in Malvern for 2 years, and I didn’t go home regularly. I messaged home more than calling them, and I think that I took comfort in the fact that home was only an hour and a half drive away. 

Then in October 2022, I embarked on my first solo trip to live and work in a country abroad. And when I say abroad, I mean the other side of the world! I found a job in New Zealand at another outdoor centre, and they also offered onsite accommodation. So once again, I packed my life up into a bag and flew out to Auckland on October 6th. It was an incredibly daunting experience, but not the first time I had lived away from home. I started off by calling home maybe once, twice a week, finding it more difficult than usual due to the timezone difference (NZ is 11 hours ahead of the UK). At the time when I first moved, I was also trying to make a long distance relationship work which is another challenge in itself – long story short, that didn’t work out! 

At the end of January 2023, the struggles with feeling alone became a lot bigger, and impacted my day to day life. I was going through a breakup, with no close friends or family to comfort me. The calls home became a lot more regular and with no regard to the timezone difference between countries. Calls were being had at 3am UK time (thank you mum, appreciate you! xxx) It was super tough, but I got through it and communications to home eventually got back to the 2-3 times a week with messaging also. 

There are lots of ways to overcome the feeling of loneliness whilst travelling, and it’s different for everyone. Personally, I chuck on my favourite Disney movie (Tangled, of course!) and sit down with a cup of hot tea and wait for my mum and dad to wake up so I can call them! Sometimes I send a message to my close friends and family saying how I’m feeling, it surprisingly helps a lot by confiding to someone even if they aren’t able to read your message straight away. But the very thing that helped me the most was getting myself into the mindset of ‘what did I come out here to do’? I think about how I would feel a couple months from now, looking back on opportunities I missed because I was thinking about home, stories which I then wouldn’t be able to tell when I got back. Thinking about my family and what they would want me to be doing: being really upset and doing nothing but feel sorry for myself, or experiencing something new? Obviously, experiencing something new isn’t always available, so sometimes sitting at home watching Tangled is the only option, and that’s also OK! 

So if and when you feel lonely during travelling, my advice is as follows:

1. Set up a regular routine to call home

I think any more than 2/3 calls to home a week will cause you to miss home more, and also potentially miss out on the opportunities and experiences that you set out to do. Instead, my advice is to message regularly, send photos to keep home updated with what you’re up to, and arrange a time and day/days to call each week that works for both ends. It gives you an opportunity to gather a list of all the things that have happened during the week to tell home about! Having 1 or 2 longer calls a week is a lot more beneficial than many short calls I found.

2. Keep yourself busy 

Keep yourself busy by immersing yourself in new experiences and friendships around you. Don’t let thoughts about being back at home stop you from doing what you set out to do. If you aren’t able to get out and do something new, find something which comforts you, whether that be a pamper eve, your fave movie and snack, some baking, or just sleeping it off. 

3. Don’t withdraw

This is a personal one which may not apply to you. I find myself withdrawing when moving away from home and communication with friends is minimal. Try and send messages and updates to them, even on days when you’re feeling fine so you’ve got that support when you need it.

4. Allow yourself to feel sad sometimes

Experiencing every emotion is important. Feeling sad is normal, so sometimes it’s best just to let it happen. And when it does, embrace the feeling and do what makes you happy. 

5. Have no regrets

Sounds easier said than done, I know. Live your travel time as best you can, because in a couple months time, you’ll look back and maybe regret something that you didn’t do. Certainly something that I have experienced during my time here in New Zealand. Go skydiving. Try that new cuisine. Go on a date with that local! Do what you set out to do.