Let's Talk Homesickness as a Digital Nomad
It’s been about 7 months since Max and I left our house in Canada behind, donated the last of our household items, and set off as official digital nomads. Travelling full time is amazing and full of incredible experiences, anxiety threshold testing moments, learning opportunities and more.
While it’s amazing, fun, challenging, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, being on the road full time can have some unpleasant side-effects. Homesickness as a digital nomad is all too common.
Symptoms may include missing your mum, your family, your cats, your friends, your colleagues, and your favourite hoodie that is too bulky for nomad life.
Homesickness is common amongst nomads, who move from place to place frequently and are usually working full-time hours along their way. It can be isolating.
So, how do you combat homesickness when you’re on a prolonged trip? Here are a few things you can try to give you a feeling of home.
Funnily enough, working full time is a huge help in feeling back at home. The routine of working regular hours Monday to Friday means that the flow of routine life is still there. On a typical day, we work regular hours and maintain communication with our amazing team in Canada. I also email friends and family who are also at their desks and hear about their day.
For nomads, this is easy since typically there is work to be done. If you’re on a vacation or taking time off work to travel, then this won’t work as the entire point of that type of trip is to be out of your routine.
Routine is key when you are travelling for months or years at a time. Things can’t be like a holiday every day. This is why people laugh when we say we are going on holiday for a couple of days, while we are already somewhere exotic. That’s because we aren’t on vacation the majority of the time, and need time off to go explore, relax, and have fun just like if you were back home going to work every day.
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Schedule Time to Connect
There is nothing quite like a phone call with mom or one of your best friends to make you feel reconnected to home. Texting and messaging are great ways to keep in touch throughout the day, but I find more meaningful connection comes from the video calls I have with people.
When it comes to actually making time to talk to family and staying in regular communication, it comes down to organization and scheduling for me at least. I have added phone call reminders into my calendar to chat with people.
I find talking to family and friends a way to help fight off homesickness as a digital nomad, but for you, it may be a trigger or make things tougher. Do what works for you.
If Facetime or video calling is not an option, I would recommend emailing over texting and Instagram messaging etc. There is something about sitting down to compose an email to your parent, aunt, friend, or sibling that holds more weight somehow. You can really dive into things and share more deeply than the passing Heys and How are you’s that seem so passive. Sending someone an email takes more thought, time, and energy in my humble opinion. It’s the next best thing to snail mail, friends.
Get A Taste of Home
Eating new foods and experiencing the cuisine of a new country is one of the major perks of travelling, whether full-time or not.
Sometimes though, it's nice to have a little taste of some comfort food. For us, it might be making a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup, for you it might mean a hamburger and fries, whatever!
Food is such a powerful way to connect to people and places. If you're living in a co-living space, or visiting friends on your travels, offer to cook something from your home, maybe one of your mom's famous recipes, and share it with the people you're with.
Food can be a great way to tap into some comfort and connect back with your home country.
Don't Neglect Self-Care
Self-care is so incredibly important and can't be neglected. From experience, in the first 3 months of this trip, I focused heavily on establishing strong routines and healthy self-care habits.
However, in the past month, I have neglected these habits and let things slide. I fell off with my meditation, healthy eating, exercise etc. I noticed a huge difference in my emotional wellbeing when I neglected these things. Sure, watching 4 episodes of Billions every night is fun, but after a while, you feel like shit...and also like you should maybe start day trading?
So, if you're travelling for a long time, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Not only will this make you happier and healthier, but it will keep you present. Having a present mind and staying "in the now" will help alleviate feelings of homesickness, at least it does for me. When I am living presently and focused on my life at the moment, I spend less time thinking about past or future events, good or bad.
If you want to see the apps I use to stay on track with my self-care, read my post on my favourite wellness apps!
What You're Feeling is Normal
I also wanted to point out what I read in another blog about homesickness. Homesickness is NORMAL. No, it doesn't mean you aren't enjoying your trip. It doesn't mean the adventure is lost on you, or that the trip was a mistake.
So, just because you are missing friends and family, and the comfort of your parent's living room, doesn't mean that you aren't on the right path. It's just part of long term travel.
Missing family is normal and healthy and makes the time you spend together that much more rewarding and important.