Why Going Home Doesn’t Mean the Adventure’s Over
“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”
The past year of my life has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve moved from Cambodia to China, back to the United States, and then to South Korea.
I’ve been living in Seoul for four months now, and although I have experienced moments of homesickness, it hasn’t come close to how I felt last year when living in Cambodia and then China. And I believe that this is because I have learned how to better react to these feelings of loneliness that sometimes can happen when living abroad. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to not feel weak or guilty for having feelings of homesickness. It is sometimes hard to remember this point while in the moment, but if you can, I really think it does help.
Going home back in September was a very bittersweet moment for me. While it felt amazing being near my family again, I struggled with the fact that I had left Cambodia and then China during a bad bout of homesickness. Instead of savoring my time with loved ones, I looked for ways to distract myself, and they weren’t always healthy. I spent so much time wishing that the clock would fast forward so that I could leave again.
It did just that. My impatience to live in Asia again was replaced by moments of panic, doubt, and the incessant “what if” scenarios that were increasingly becoming more frequent the closer my intended departure date got. I was scared.
Many people asked how I could be scared when I’d moved across the world before. After doing it once, the second time around should be no problem, right? If only it were that easy. Hadn’t I come home for a reason? Wouldn’t I just get homesick again? I didn’t know it then, but yes, I would get homesick again. But I know now that getting homesick isn’t a sign of defeat and it doesn’t always mean it’s time to pack your bags.
During my rough patch in Cambodia last year I reached out to another travel blogger and asked her if she ever felt homesick and whether or not I should stick it out. She gave me some great advice that I will never forget. She told me that I should always check in with myself and that if I am unhappy, then I shouldn’t “stick it out” because traveling is supposed to bring us joy. If it begins to feel like we are obliged to keep going and like we are trapped, then maybe it is time to return home and rethink what it is we want.
Here’s a tip for solo travelers: Reaching out to another travel blogger when having feelings of loneliness and homesickness can really help put things into perspective.
Now when I am feeling a bit down, I ask myself why I am here, and if I can answer that question, then I know to keep going. Sometimes when we have these feelings, the best solution is to keep doing what we love, and not give into the isolation that loneliness urges us to seek so that the feeling of missing something familiar fades away. Nobody can tell you when it is time to go home. That is something each of us must decide on our own.
For me personally, I don’t think I’ll ever be completely without these bouts of blues. I am extremely close to my family so it is natural for me to miss them. But I also love traveling and I know that it is not something that I would be happy quitting. But I do know now that these feelings are not permanent, and I try to just ride through them without judgment.
So here is my advice: If you do decide to take a break from traveling, enjoy the time you spend at home. You went home for a reason and you can always begin your travels again. None of us are caged. We put so much energy into missing the past and worrying about the future, and then we completely miss out on what is happening right here, right now.