If you know me personally, you would know that I get deeply homesick.
It doesn’t matter who I am with or where I am, but if I am in another country… wait no, another city that I am not familiar with, I get a bit uneasy.
I realize this is not an unusual thing to happen. It’s hard NOT to be homesick when you are in a “scary” or as most would say unfamiliar place. Not sleeping in your own bed or showering in your own shower. I get it. Trust me.
First I’ll tell you a funny story.
When my husband and I were on our honey moon we were staying at an apartment in Paris. Up until then I have always stayed in hotels. There was always a concierge or at least someone else, and if you ever needed anything you could always ask them. So even though I was in a different city there was always someone I could talk to if I needed help. In a way, someone was always “watching out” for me.
Before we left, I had no problems. Actually I was really excited to have such freedom. Almost living like a local. We had a kitchen and were free to cook anything.
My demeanor all changed the first day.
I was beyond uncomfortable with this idea. The idea of cooking was great except nothing was mine (obviously) and what you would assume would be stocked in any regular kitchen (even salt and pepper) wasn’t there. Things were different than in my thoughts. When I look back, I think at how naive I was.
But it really hit me when we went to bed for the first night.
I didn’t bring any sheets or pillow covers because you never really do when staying in a hotel, it wasn’t even a thought in my mind. This place was not dirty or gave you that impression by any standards but because it wasn’t mine, I was uncomfortable.
The following part I am going to partly blame on exhaustion and jet lag 😉
I woke up a couple hours all sweaty and confused. Then I started having this terrible feeling of being alone and I started crying… (such a wimp) and my husband woke up to my sobbing and asked what was wrong and I let out a whimper and then a cry “I FEEL SO ALONE!! No one will know if we were to dieee” (…. a bit dramatic, no?)
He was a bit puzzled seeing as we were together, so I clearly was not alone. This wasn’t the best start to a honeymoon, but hey, this memory makes us laugh now!
Anyways, a couple days in I felt 100 times better and had such an amazing time!
This year, we did the same thing, meaning we rented an apartment again.
But because I knew what to expect, I prepared a few things to get me mentally stable and ready.
I adore traveling, I love seeing and experiencing new things. Life is all about using your senses and feeling emotions. Learning new cultures and enjoying yourself. But on the contrary, I am not the biggest fan of being so far from home and my regular routine.
I am such a sucker for routine. (I’ve become so old I feel!)
So throughout the years I have come up with some…
Must-haves that make any homesick traveler more relaxed!
1) Prepare to purchase or bring your own bed sheets.
If this seems too impractical than even just a few pillow cases can really make such a difference! If you’re going somewhere where you know you can purchase them for a cheap price, that could also be an option. The whole idea is that you are not sleeping on other people’s dirty sheets.
If you think that bringing the sheets is a bad idea, that is fine too! Just bring sweatpants, socks, a sweater with a hood, and that way you can stay warm while you sleep.
This anxiety does diminish throughout the nights that you stay there because you become more comfortable.
2) Bring a candle with a familiar scent
I love this idea because your sense of smell that really comfort you. Just think of baking cookies in the kitchen with that beautiful aroma making you smile.
All that is needed is in your luggage, bring a small candle that you know reminds you of something happy or homey.
I prefer an apple spice or something along those lines. Citrus is nice too! But the preference is all very personal. Just don’t forget to bring matches or a lighter!
3) Make sure the TV has a hookup for a Roku (or something similar)
This is one of the prerequisites for an apartment. The TV has to have HDMI (and luckily most do now). When you are traveling to another country you forget that you won’t have anything to watch on television. Even though you’re on vacation, you forget that you will need your down time.
Even us, when we are walking around Rome it is amazing, but then we get tired and sometimes just want to crash at the apartment and eat some home cooked food. But without familiar television, it can get a bit hard.
We have this portable Roku (which basically makes any TV a smart TV) and we watch our Netflix. How cool is that?!
So we are practically transported right back at home.
Another tip really quickly that we found to be small but important is a couch with arms!!! You truly underestimate the power of arms on a couch, because if they aren’t there, you miss them! We kept falling off the couch before!
4) Bring another pair of relaxing pants (that you don’t sleep in!)
I like this because then when we get home from a long day of walking, it may only be 7 at night. Well at that time, I don’t want to change into my pajamas yet. However, I don’t want to be in my clothes that I have been in all day.
By bringing a relaxing pair of pants, it’s just another piece of comfort that can seem so small and meaningless, but make all the difference.
5) Try to stick to a routine
This point is vital.
It doesn’t need to be the same routine that you have at home, but you should try to develop one when you are on vacation. Try to wake up at the same time, shower at the same time, even eat at the same time. This way, you know what to expect and when to expect it.
Although being spontaneous sounds like it’s a blast, in all honesty (for me) it makes everything seem too crazy. Yes, once you are situated it is nice to do random things, but when everything in your life is crazy, then it might be too much!
6) As soon as you arrive, take out all your belongings and organize them as if you are home
Depending on how long you are going for, this might be too much.
But we are here for two weeks and the day we got in, I unpacked everything. Put all the bathroom supplies in the bathroom and neatly arranged them. The clothes all came out and were either hung up or neatly folded.
Everything that we brought was put in a place that seemed appropriate and that would be familiar to home.
That way when we would return after a long day, we wouldn’t need to look to find anything and plus who likes to live out of a suitcase? I know I don’t!
On our first trip, I didn’t unpack and when I look back, something so stupid as not unpacking could have just added that extra level of comfort that would have made me feel a bit better!
7) Take a rinse the first night and relax
After everything is said and done and you are in for the night, get your comfortable clothes or pajamas and take a nice hot shower. The reason I say shower first is because you make it your own when you shower. It’s a way of telling yourself without actually speaking that yes, this is mine.
This is how I see it.
You are very vulnerable when you shower. You have to get naked. You are touching knobs and your bare feet are on the ground. It is very intimate and if you get it done right away, you have already “broken the seal”. This is how I find to really make myself more comfortable. Plus who doesn’t like the feeling of hot water on them?
In the end…
Traveling is so much fun! It can show you how life is lived in other parts of the world.
It humbles you and lets you appreciate what you have, but also can help you dream bigger!
But if you’re like me, you might not be the perfect candidate to “rough it” or jump out too far from my comfort zone. Try one or all of these tips to help you become relaxed and truly enjoy yourself.
Until next time 😉
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