Sometimes I wish I could bring my mum instead of a suitcase.
For the past few years, I have travelled the world on and off, often for long stretches of time. Australia, Thailand, Italy, France, Canada — you name it. As a solo, budget traveller, I usually stay in hostels and change location fairly frequently.
Over time, I have learned some tricks to feel a little more at home wherever I go. Nothing can stop the eventual feeling of homesickness from creeping in, but I can certainly slow it down by a few months.
Why a pillowcase?
A pillowcase doesn’t take up much room, yet you will be using it every single day. It is the easiest way to make the unfamiliar seem a little more familiar. It is also super light, I can literally carry it in a jacket pocket if needed.
It also makes your bed immediately feels more like *yours*, as well as overcoming any cleanliness issues.
Carrying one wherever I go is the best way I have found to minimise the stress that constantly sleeping in a new bed brings with it.
It kind of reminds me of the blankets we get given as young children that we often carry with us for years to come.
The idea of the 'blankie'
Some say children get so attached to blankets as they are their new companion as they are transitioning from being constantly with a parent.
Others say they are an object that makes them feel safe and secure, a part of the emotional support system surrounding the child.
Funnily, I think this doesn’t really change as we are adults. We switch the object that we find security in, but the principle is the same. Whether you have an ‘emotional support bottle’ or that one photo in your wallet you can never lose.
We still somehow gravitate towards an object when looking for comfort in the adult world.
For me, this object is my pillowcase. Well, at least while travelling. It is a reminder of home and the people I love the most. It has a familiar scent and fabric. It is my comfort object as I am transitioning away from family and friends to explore the world (even if just temporarily).
Homesickness will always creep in
Have you ever heard of the dilemma of the snail?
It goes something like this: You are given $10 million but will have a snail chasing you for the rest of your life. It cannot be killed and will always know where you are. Would you still do it?
Personally, I don’t think I would.
Yet ironically, travel can feel a lot like that. Except the $10 million are the incredible experiences you get to make and the snail is homesickness. Homesickness eventually always catches up to you. And that’s okay. You need to know when it is time to take a break and visit home.
When I was on my Gap Year in Australia, I made the mistake of thinking going home is the end of the trip. That I would fail if I went home. I lasted 9 months but the last few were increasingly difficult.
Now I know that that’s not true. I can travel far away and still go home for a week or two. It is worth the expenses as it means the trip stays enjoyable the whole way through.
It stops the feeling of having the snail constantly on your tail and allows you to reset and recuperate.
You can always come back to said country after and continue. It’s okay to miss home!
So, for now I will continue to carry my pillowcase as my piece of home away from home. My temporary shield from the snail that is homesickness.
What is yours?
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