At some point in your travels, the feelings of loneliness or homesickness are bound to creep in. This is a natural human response when faced with different sights and cultures, and lack of familiar faces. Something to remember is the fact that this occurs very rarely, and usually doesn’t last very long. Being prepared for these feelings is one of the best ways to overcome them.
Just as grief has stages, so does homesickness. The four stages of homesickness are:
Looking at that list, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t acceptance the final stage?” For most things, like grief, you’d be right. When traveling, however, it’s somewhat different. Let’s go through the details of the stages above:
• Honeymoon – When you arrive in a new land, everywhere you look there is something new, and this can be exciting. The thrill of exploration and newness takes over like a hunger. You can’t wait to do and see everything!
• Shock – As your brain begins processing all of this newness, suddenly, and usually quite unexpectedly, everything will not be quite as awesome as on first glance.
• Acceptance – Again, your brain will go into processing mode, realizing this all isn’t so bad after all, and you’ll begin to get back into the swing of things.
• Adaptation – Here, you’ll begin to adapt to the culture around you, perhaps even dressing like the locals, and eating that fare that you never thought you’d touch.
The key to handling these inescapable phases is to give yourself time to accept the shock. Take a look at his phase from all angles. What is it that has you feeling like this? It might feel a bit like being in the grips of depression, but it is quite the opposite. Your brain is simply on sensory overload and, as amazing are the capabilities of the human brain, it takes time for it to process all of the information you’ve just now uploaded. Give it time. You’ll find in the end just how truly amazing traveling the world can be.