The following is a guest post by Chelsea Schmidt. If you’d like to guest post on Go Backpacking, please read our submission guidelines.
Nearly every backpacker suffers the effects of homesickness at some point in their travels. There are only a lucky few among us who are immune and you are likely to find them drinking in a Thai bar, bragging about the fact that they haven’t been home in a decade.
For the rest of us, the important thing is to quickly shake off the homesickness blues so we can continue exploring and having great adventures on the road. Instead of buying a plane ticket home the next time you’re suffering a major case of homesickness, consider another less conventional, but more fun option. It might sound less than enjoyable, but getting a job and staying in one place for awhile is a great way to cure homesickness.
Have a home base
A requirement of nearly every job you encounter will be that you stay in one place. Having a bed of your own, a place to hang up your pictures, a place to throw your dirty laundry without upsetting the other backpackers in a packed dorm… these are all great benefits that will help you feel more at home and less of a visitor in a strange, far off land.
As a bonus, try finding a job that provides free housing. I have saved untold amounts of money by offering to work reception at a hostel and signing up to live and work on a sailboat.
Feel like a local again
Remember that special hole-in-the-wall restaurant you and your friends flocked to back home? You probably felt a little superior knowing about the place while the camera happy tourists didn’t even have a clue it existed.
When you get a job and settle down in a place you start picking up local knowledge. You suddenly find the city's awesome hidden secrets and you start to feel like you belong.
Make some long-term friends
As backpackers we know how making friends can go. You meet some of the most incredible people in the world when you are traveling. Suddenly they are your best friends who you would literally die for. Fast forward a week or two and its time to say goodbye with false promises of meeting up again some day. Rinse and Repeat.
This is probably the most serious cause of homesickness. Missing your friends – the ones you can call at any time, the ones who know you, really know you – this can be a killer for the long-term traveler. When you sign up for a job abroad not only are your meeting great new coworkers and other locals but you can finally relax because you know these friends will be around for quite awhile.
Most of the benefits above can be easily gained just by deciding to stay in a place a little longer. Who needs a job when you can just hang around for awhile?
Getting a job adds a necessary element needed to truly cure your homesickness – Responsibility. Back home you had a routine, you have a schedule, you had commitments and hopefully a work-personal life balance. When you travel, every day becomes a Saturday, and in reality this can easily become more tiring than a 9-5 job. Homesickness is often the end result of backpacker burnout.
Instead of turning into a lazy expat, to really fix the homesick blues, give yourself some responsibility and get a fun, interesting job.
Realize why you went traveling in the first place
You might be reading this and thinking, “why the hell would I go and get a job when I’m out traveling the world?!”
When homesickness strikes you have a few options. You can suffer through the pain and end up bitter and unhappy even though you are experiencing the best that the world has to offer. You can fly home to a welcoming reception of friends and family only to watch the enthusiasm fade as people get back to the same-old-same-old of your home town.
Or you can get a job! You’ll get a lot of the benefits of being at home but in the end you are still sitting on a beach halfway around the world. Plus, work is work wherever you go and you will probably soon remember why you went traveling in the first place.
So sign up for that bartending gig, save some money, and get ready for the oh-so-much-more-enjoyable disease of travel fever.
About the Author: Chelsea is currently living in beautiful Cartagena, Colombia, staying close to the beach and out of the wintry US. She is a total foodie and loves to collect all the crazy stories of her fellow travelers. While traveling she has had gigs working in hostels, as crew for a sailboat in the Caribbean, and currently supports her travels through freelance writing.