How to Overcome the Backpacker Blues
Many young people take their trusty backpack, a limited bank balance and set off to see something of the world.
They anticipate seeing new vistas, taste exotic dishes and enjoy stunning sunsets on white beaches. All these things often come true. But what few expect is that they will find homesickness overcoming them from time to time.
You cannot pack your friends, family and familiar surroundings into your backpack. Sooner or later the backpacker blues will catch up with you.
With luck, our tips will help you to overcome the feeling of desolation. Soon you can continue your adventure of a lifetime.
Missing my Family
Any backpacker will tell you that sooner or later you are going to miss your family. It may come when you are feeling a little under the weather having picked up the dreaded traveler’s tummy. You are thinking about mom and her cure-all soup, or perhaps a special birthday and you are not going to be there to share it.
Take out those photographs of your loved ones and spend time thinking about them. Take the photos out and show them to the people around you. They will be sympathetic, and you will feel better. If you have a tablet or phone, try contacting them via Skype or message them and have a chat. You will feel better, and they will love knowing that you are safe and thinking of them.
Your family will always be there for you. Mum and dad will come to your rescue when your expenses exceed your budget. They will collect you from the airport and fuss over you for days. They will invite all your cousins and friends for a huge bash when you walk back through the front door, and they will wish you well as you travel to the next place on your list.
Missing my Friends
Not all your friends jumped at the idea of taking off into the wild blue yonder with one bag, little money and a burning desire to experience the world.
They wished you well, and then they too got on with their lives.
There will come a time when you are sitting by yourself in the backpacker dormitory. You will start to wonder what they are getting up to without you. You will start to think of things you have done together, sports matches you have watched, drinks at the pub, parties that lasted until dawn. Then, you will begin to feel lonely.
Rather than dwell on the past, think of all the experiences you have had and the stories you can tell when you get back. The fabulous things you have seen, the funny people that you have met, the strange things you have eaten, the cultures you have experienced, the horrid transport you have ridden in and then recognise that their lives have changed little.
In your e-mails and messages, they will not have much new to say whilst you have a lifetime of memories stored away. Think kindly of your friends and then, go down and speak to a stranger. They are just a friend that you have not yet met!
The countries that you travel through will all offer up strange and exotic dishes for you to try. Some will tickle your taste buds. Others will leave you gagging. But street food is always the cheapest so to make the budget go further, that is where you eat.
Not many countries have street food that tastes like mom’s cooking.
There will be no mac and cheese or roast dinner with veggies, no family favourite pudding. One day, you will sit looking at your plate of noodles. The thought of a plate of bangers and mash with mom’s gravy will make your mouth water.
Now is the time to indulge yourself!
Take yourself off to a nice little bistro. Enjoy a meal that reminds you of home, then eat local delicacies for the coming week!
A drink that costs a little more
Most backpackers can recount innumerable stories of poor choices when it comes to imbibing alcohol!
Your backpack will sport more than one beer label, and your new choice of T-shirt most probably has a beer advert on the front. More than once you have woken up with a headache the size of the Pacific Ocean. Knocking back shots from dubious bottles that sport some form of pickled insect life at the bottom will do that to you. Looking at the photographs on your camera there seems to be more than a few of you enjoying alcoholic beverages of uncertain origin.
If you are longing for something a little more refined to drink, then satisfy the craving for the beer you enjoyed with dad or the whiskey that warmed your insides when sipped with your friends, when you indulge yourself with that special meal. Strip off the T-shirt and shorts and dig out those chinos and shirt or that one and only dress. Then take yourself off to somewhere posh for the evening.
The bed in your bedroom at home
The reason that your backpacker dorm bed costs you $2 a night is not hard to discern! No matter where you sleep whilst on your travels, one thing that will always be true is that your mattress will be suspect. They will not be as comfortable as the innerspring you left behind.
You cannot pack your mom’s duvet nor can you carry your memory foam pillow. You can take a small camping pillow that will make a difference, and it is yours. That hard bench seat on the bus carrying you to Kathmandu will be infinitely more comfortable with your little pillow giving just a smidgeon of comfort. Dream of the comfort you will enjoy when you finally walk back through the front door.
If things get too bad, look around for a reasonable hotel or a bed and breakfast or a guesthouse. Check in for a couple of days and enjoy the unlimited hot water, fluffy towels, and a soft bed. Sleep the day away and use all the hot water. Tomorrow will be another lumpy mattress so enjoy whilst you can.
Another good way to get a comfortable night’s sleep is to take an overnight passenger train with a sleeper car to your next destination. A lovely bunk bed, with clean sheets and a soft pillow, will make the trip fly by.
Undoubtedly you will be away from home for those family gatherings on special holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. These holidays are always marked by special meals enjoyed with family and friends, and you will find your thoughts turning towards home as these special days roll around.
Just because you are away from home, does not mean that the day cannot be celebrated with the new friends that you are with at the time. Get them together and enjoy a slap up meal with them but find the time to contact your family and say hello.
Don’t ignore the holidays that are celebrated in the country that you are in. They are often accompanied by special festivals with music, dancing, and loads of food available. Immerse yourself and enjoy the time you are in that country.
Familiar music and television programs
Those exotic sounds that so enchanted you when you first arrived, may start to become a little unbearable after you have had to listen to them for twelve hours straight on the bus, and your iPod playlist is starting to sound just as bad. Look around for an internet cafe or a music store that will allow you to download a refresh to your playlist. At the same time pick up the latest music from home.
Television is going to be a lot trickier especially if you are traveling outside of the English speaking world. Look for a cinema that specializes in screening English films and indulge in an afternoon with James Bond or any of your favorite film stars.
Search out a free Wi-Fi spot. With a subscription to a video streaming site, you can satisfy your craving and find the television programs that you are missing.
Whether it is shopping for the family gifts at Christmas or dashing around the Black Friday or January sales, you will get to the point where you want to throw caution to the winds and indulge in a good old-fashioned shopping splurge.
A backpack has limited space so trying to fit a new suit or a special dress in will not work. If you have taken advantage and bought a special something, pack it up and post it home. It will bring back all kinds of memories when you get home and open the parcel. All those exotic smells will hit you, and you will once again be in the wonderful little tailor shop in Vietnam.
Don’t forget your family, especially around Christmas. Try and wrap their gifts before you pack them into a box, so they can go under the tree, to be opened on Christmas morning. Your family will love that little carved elephant or that exotic T-shirt so spend a little and keep your family close.
It is inevitable that sooner or later you will find yourself feeling homesick. It is natural so don’t fight the feeling. Take the time to think of your home and family, after all, they are an important part of your life. Your biggest risks will be getting home if you fall ill or are injured and making sure that you can replace your expensive items if they are stolen. Your travel insurance policy will give you a sense of comfort knowing these are taken care of.
Think about the fact that you will never again have such an opportunity to simply indulge yourself with what you want to do, when you want to do it. Now is the time to be utterly selfish and live your life for yourself. All too soon the responsibilities of your studies, work, and a family will catch up, so go see that temple, go see that new country, go see that new beach, go have that new experience and tuck the love for home into your heart.