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A Surefire Way to Cure Homesickness

Airplane wing

En route to Mexico City (photo: Dave Lee)

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 a while 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 knowledge 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 someday. 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 a while.

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 a while?

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.

You can follow her adventures on her Twitter @ChelseaRaePS or on her personal website –

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Greg Bilsland

Thursday 4th of October 2012

I agree 100% about having a homebase. Even if it's only for a few days or a week, it helps to take time to just settle down in a location you really love.

Amy & Kieron

Monday 14th of February 2011

Getting homesick is one of our major fears of long-term travel and these tips definitely help! We plan on spending a lot of time in sublets and couchsurfing so that we get that 'homely' feel that you just can't find in a hotel or hostel.


Saturday 12th of February 2011

Brilliant post!


Friday 11th of February 2011

Great post and I could not agree more with every point here. I am planning a RTW trip for 2012 and for financial and the reasons you listed, I plan on trying to work for 2 months somewhere out of every 6 traveling. Those places will also always feel like home!


Friday 11th of February 2011

Scott -- I think that's a good approach. Before my RTW trip, I thought the dream was to do the whole thing without having to stop and work, but as Noni mentioned, it gets to be tiring once you've been gone 6 or 8 months. There's something to be said for pacing yourself!

Kevin Post

Thursday 10th of February 2011

I couldn't agree more with this post Chelsea. I have done the exact same thing on several of my travels. I get to a point after a few months when I look forward to getting a job, starting a project, going to school, making friends not passerby-ers. Even hunter gathers have done this throughout human history; sure they are nomadic but when there was a good water source, favorable climate and plenty of food nomadic hunter gathers stayed for a while before moving along.

Thanks again for the post!


-Kevin Post

Chelsea Rae Schmidt

Thursday 10th of February 2011

Thanks Kevin! I find that I last about 3-4 months before I need a break - a job, school, some sort of home base. I could last a bit longer but I kind of like stopping. It reminds me why I'm traveling and I get to experience the excitement of starting a trip again in a few months.

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