Home sweet home…
A couple of weeks ago my friend, who was leaving home for 5 months in Asia, asked me how I cope so well travelling alone, to countries far away, knowing that I won’t be coming home for months.
Now, since I was little I have been going on holiday with my grandparents, at least three times per year to Tenby. Every year with my Brownie group we went camping, one year even to Scotland. In middle school I went to France for a week. Since high school I have been on several trips… Japan, China, Egypt, Europe. At university I was lucky enough to expand my travels even more with trips to USA, and Europe. I even did a sandwich year whilst at university and studied at a couple of universities for a year in Europe.
What I’m trying to say is that whilst moving/travelling away from home never gets any easier, I have had a little practice and you should never compare yourself to someone else.
I am very close to my family so leaving for Americamp last summer was still a hard journey to make on my own (despite my smiling photos and excited caption on instagram), knowing no-one, and the only contact with my family for the next three months was through the phone. That’s not to say I forced a smile or pretended excitement but it’s not bad to feel sad to leave home but excited for your travels ahead.
There are a few questions I recommend you ask yourself before you make a decision on that lengthy time away from home…
- Do you want it enough? – I have wanted to travel the world for as long as I can remember, Americamp has been on my to-do list since high school, and studying in Europe was the reason I chose the university I went to as it had good connections with others around Europe. All of these experiences were ones I considered once in a lifetime experiences and to me I didn’t want to waste those opportunities that I’ve dreamed so long to have.
- Are the skills you would learn from this trip important enough to you? – The trips I have been on have helped me develop confidence, independence, organisation, and leadership skills. Studying in Europe has taught me that I can cope with daily life on my own as well as making friends from all over the world. Working at an American summer camp taught me that without confidence, you cannot be a leader. Plus you could never be late! There are so many more skills that I have developed which I count as important for myself today and for the future… so make your trip valuable to you!
- Have you travelled much before? – It’s probably not a good idea to make your first trip away from home somewhere far away for a lengthy amount of time. My first ‘big’ trip was Japan (incredible place, can’t recommend enough!) for 10 days, so although I was thousands of miles away from home, I would be seeing everyone soon. To have the best time possible, to share all of those memories, and to show them a place far far away from home that may be out of reach for them made me value the trip more.
- Are you doing this for you? – This is really simple… You will never be happy if you’re doing something to please someone else. Follow your own dreams!
Now if the answer to all those questions is YES then below are a few tips to help you get through that long flight…
- Distract yourself – Take earphones with you to watch TV or listen to music, pack some books and magazines, or start a conversation with the person next to you (if they look friendly!).
- Pack a sleep mask – I find it really difficult to get any sleep on a flight but once you slide your eye mask on you feel like you’re shutting the whole world out!
- Download a meditation app – I only practice meditation when I’m feeling stressed; can’t sleep; or need to slow my mind down. There are various free apps you can download and I promise you don’t have to sit cross-legged saying ‘omm’ for 10 minutes!
- Contacts – Join a Facebook group of others doing the same journey as you. I joined one when I did Americamp and it really helped to know that my feelings of homesickness, nervousness, and loneliness were normal.
- Make sure you’re organised – Limit messiness (I find being messy contributes to a negative mood) by packing your bag within plenty of time so you don’t have to waste time going backwards and forwards to the shops. That wasted time could be spent with family and friends!
- Book some exciting trips – I had 30 days on my visa after Americamp to travel USA so I looked at trips I could take and States I wanted to go to when doubts and negative thoughts entered my mind.
- Look after yourself – Being ill on your trip paired with leaving home behind makes a trip look scary and impossible. Eat, drink, and sleep plenty!
- Start a journal – Write your emotions down. Write that you’re scared, sad, nervous because it will most likely help you feel better.
- Read some motivational articles/quotes – I love Pinterest because there are so many quotes that help to describe an emotion I’m feeling, or help to make me feel better, or help me to believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to.
- Keep in touch with family – Although it might make you feel worse about not being able to see them, your family are your support team. They are the ones telling you to follow your dreams so tell them when you’re unsure or nervous because they will help you remember why you are going on this trip. Just be careful you are not in contact too much as you may well get through the trip at the detriment of developing your independence.
I hope this post will help any first-time travellers either before or during your trip.
To travel is to live