Homesickness. The waves take over us often and pound us at different angles every time. Sometimes it lasts an hour, sometimes an afternoon or morning, or sometimes several days.
Homesickness is sneaky, too. We find ourselves sad, irritated or in a funk and at first we don't know why. For the first few months on our #nuventures, I definitely knew when I was homesick. It was obvious because I would be balling my eyes out and blubbering, "I'm so sad! I miss home. I just want a shower!" Now, it comes in a different form where I find myself sulking around, unmotivated for the day ahead, or groggy from sleeping too long. I end up cleaning our room or reorganizing my things for the umpteenth time. How many times can I reorganize a backpack with 15 items in it?
It creeps up on Adam, too. He has spent a solid week sleeping every day all day long. In the seven years I have known Adam, I have only seen him cry three times. The most recent was when we were Facetiming family and talking about missing everyone back home. We really miss you guys!
I simply miss calling up a good friend and going for a hike. Or, randomly asking friends for a game of Settlers. How we miss Settlers! On a different level, I miss the feeling of being on autopilot. Out here, we are constantly researching, mapping and getting lost. No matter how many times we practice “controlling our attitudes,” getting lost is never this wanderlust dream we envisioned from our Pinterest pictures. It's so frustrating!
What I miss the absolute most (even more than dark chocolate) are the long hard laughs that come with being with good friends and family that know deeply. We are constantly on the move adjusting to new places, meeting new people, learning new cultures and are always on a first impression basis. Of course this is exciting and these aspects of traveling have us eager to keep going. However, sometimes we are human and just want the comfort of a good friend.
When we arrived in Vietnam, homesickness snuck up on us again and it took us days to realize the grip this subconscious feeling had on us. We were staying in our hotel room more than normal; not really interested in adventuring out. We thought it was because of the crazy humidity outside or the fact that Adam didn't have much control over his stomach. Either way, we felt a bit confined to the room and homesickness welled up again.
In our brainstorming sessions of figuring out the why’s of our unmotivated funk, we realized that every time we move to a new place we seem to be on this emotional roller coaster. We bounce back and forth from extremes of, “Wow! This is so exciting! I love it here! Let’s stay a while!” to “I’m sad and I don’t know why.” The reality is the constant changing and adjusting makes us emotional wrecks, ping ponging us back and forth between euphoric excitement to sadness and wanting the comfort of familiar.
In Lombok I caught myself in a bummer mood because we didn’t have any friends to call up to hang out. I channeled some Beverly Keasler and changed my attitude. Well, if I can’t have my family and friends here, I have to make new friends with those that are here. Finding friends became an adventure.
I may have channeled a little too much energy. We randomly saw a couple we had met previously in Bali. We pulled over for a quick chat and asked the couple to hang out later. I caught myself saying, “We are available tonight, or tomorrow all day, or tomorrow night, or the next night. Well, all week! Anytime! You just let us know!” After we left, I turned to Adam, “Did I sound desperate?” Without responding, Adam thew his hands up in the air with a yell, “We have friends!!!!”
if we are homesick, why don’t we just go home?
1. We do get "shots" of home.
Amazingly, we have gotten to meet up with some of our great friends and family while on the road. During the weeks prior to seeing our friends, the anticipation builds and we can't wait! Then, the time we do get to spend with them is so cherished and so great it fills us with a sense of home for several weeks after.
When we are down, we are real with ourselves and think about life before traveling. We had highs and lows all the time. Going back home would be a comfort for a short time, but then everyone would go back to business as usual and we would be doing the same thing as we are doing now. We dreamed of this lifestyle for five years. Can our homesickness be solved by a FaceTime chat with our moms, dads and friends? Sometimes just going for a walk outside helps, too.
When I tell Adam I am missing home, he immediately says, “Well, go home.” His response is out of a previous agreement we had prior to heading out on our #nuventures. We had prepared ourselves for a time when I may need to go home before Adam was ready. Our predictions turned out to be completely opposite than what we expected. Adam misses home and talks about home more than I do. However, in my moments of homesickness, my pride takes over. I see “going home” as giving up. We dreamed of being on the road traveling for two years. To not be able to push through the challenges is giving up in my eyes. So, I’m not just going to quit and go home. Maybe I’m too stubborn for my own good.
We recently were in a museum in Hanoi and started to walk down the steps to leave. We were in a funk again. As we were heading down, Adam turned to me and said, “Should we just go home?” That one question sent us over the edge, and we spent the rest of the day planning how we were going to return home earlier than what we had originally planned. When we were really thinking about this option, I started getting scared. Wait, what will it be like going home? What will we do? Am I ready for the culture shock? Will we be able to just hop back in with our friends? This nomadic lifestyle has become normal for us, so going home will be a huge change and a shock to the system.
5. We see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After our "not-as-awesome-as-expected" Christmas last year in New Zealand, we decided for us the holidays are meant to be spent with family. We are going back to the states for the holidays this year and CANNOT WAIT! We are already dreaming of the huge bear hugs with everyone, the belly rolling laughter that comes with good quality time, Dominick’s delicious Italian food, pizza with real sauce instead of ketchup (this is real y'all), Zaxby’s, feta cheese or any cheese at all, greek salads, and American football!
what do we do when we are homesick, instead of booking a flight home?
Well, all of our solutions come from other travelers we have met along the way who have shared what they do.
1. Jo from England: bakes and calls home.
We are rarely somewhere with a kitchen let alone an oven, so instead of baking we call home. Our families will agree they see and talk to us way more now with us living across the world than when we lived in Colorado!
2. Johnny and Nikita from England: Watch movies based in London.
We never thought of this, but the next time we watched The Secret Life ofWalter Mitty for the 50 millionth time we realized it was so comforting to see familiar buildings and settings in the US.
3. Pascal from England: Calls her girlfriends.
So, now I intentionally plan dates with girlfriends back home and I think of them like coffee dates we would normally have. Just seeing their faces and hearing their voices for even a quick ten minutes makes a world of difference.
4. Karen from Chicago: texts her friends OFTEN.
I took this idea and have been trying to send funny, random stuff to friends through Viber or Facebook. It has helped me feel not so far away or out of the loop having small conversations bouncing back and forth with my good friends.
After hearing that everyone else experiences homesickness, it makes me realize it’s okay to feel homesick. Now, I try to accept the emotions and feelings, be okay with them and move toward connecting with home to feel better.
We are also transitioning from just straight traveling to working while we travel as “digital nomads.” We were recently interviewed by Mish and Rob from Making It Anywhere in their new book Travel While You Work: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business from Anywhere! If you want to know how to make this lifestyle happen, follow these two! We read the other interviews from the other digital nomads. Everyone seems to spend a part of the year in the States, England or Canada and then they adventure out again. As we dream about our future and working to sustain our freedom of location, this may be a good plan of attack for us. We'll have the comfort of home for part of the year and then adventure out again to fill our nagging travel bug.
We are learning the emotional realities of living as unsettled nomads with lots of highs and lows and how to cope with the lows.