27 September 2017

Travelling adventure: what to expect and how to deal with homesickness

I'm having trouble accepting that our time in Vancouver has already come to end. We are packed, loaded, and ready to fly to New Zealand to begin our back-packing adventure across both islands. I already regret the weight of my backpack (being unable to draw in long breaths after 20 minutes of walking with a 65L on the back and a 15kg rucksack on my front doesn't look like a good sign) and of course I obviously still can't bloody believe I am here.

We have a 4-5 hour wait in the airport before we can actually check-in so I thought that now would be a good opportunity to scribble down some thoughts about our adventure so far. Let's be honest this is probably going to be the only decent WiFi connection I'll have over the next 6 weeks so it's going to be a long one.

Whenever I travel, I am reminded of my orientation week a couple of years ago at the Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. One of the teachers presented a graph which detailed the thoughts and feelings we are likely to have whilst living and studying abroad and it's something I still find very relevant for my travels today, however long they are.

First of all, you have the 'honeymoon' stage: a period of excitement after arriving at your destination. Then you stabilise a little, before falling right into homesickness. Or in my case, brutal homesickness. Although I experience all of these feelings during my travels, it's not usually in that order. The homesickness hits me before I even leave home. 3 days before I'm scheduled to leave and I'm already having a little cry in my bedroom because I'm leaving my family and friends behind. On the day I actually depart I usually cry for a good 20 minutes when I'm hugging my cats good-bye. This has happened every single time I have left home after a visit for the past year.

In my experience, getting homesick when leaving home and travelling is a mix of several things: missing your loved ones, not having your own space, and not being guaranteed comfort. To explain my current situation correctly: I have only yet experienced one level of this. Staying in hostels is going to be a whoooole new experience but I have travelled enough to know the general feelings you are likely to experience.

There are other things that contribute to this feeling of homesickness: change of diet, sleeping pattern shift, not being able to cook your own food, not having access to basic everyday stuff... All the little things can add up and you need to remind yourself that although comfort is important, when you're travelling you are not guaranteed it at all. You need to accept several things:

- Your routine is going to change completely
- Some things are utterly out of your control
- You cannot rely on anyone else
- Things will go wrong
- You will be uncomfortable at some point
- At one point you will probably wish you were back in your own bed doing absolutely nothing
- If you do not plan a few things in advance or if you avoid doing research YOU WILL REGRET IT

I've learnt that if you are going to deal with all these changes effectively and actually enjoy every aspect of your trip, you have to accept that what you are living is not what you are used to. Things are going to be very different and you need to accept that and deal with whatever comes your way with a bit of patience and understanding. You will have to do a lot of annoying things every day such a re-pack, find a clean pair of underwear somewhere deep in your rucksack, go out to buy shampoo because you used up all of the free Hotel one, spend too much at a restaurant because it's the only place that is open... etc. Some things you just can't avoid.
It can be SO easy to get overwhelmed and be on the verge of tears, so it's a good idea to deal with the little things before they add up and overwhelm you. Do your research before-hand so you aren't dealing with potential last minute complications.

These little things vary for everyone: for introverts, you might crave a bit of peace and quiet but you can't get away from your travelling partner for 30 mins (no offence intended). Maybe you're into fitness and you're getting frustrated that you haven't worked out or found a restaurant that does a simple dinner with some fresh vegetables (me). Perhaps you just want a simple breakfast but your hotel doesn't have a kitchenette so you have to eat out or find a store that sells fresh fruit...

When you talk about things like this it can seem so simple ( "get over it, it's no big deal" ) and although it is the nature of travelling and exploring the world it can be difficult to deal with, especially when it's your first time experiencing it. We have become some accustomed to feeling comfortable that whenever we leave our hobbit holes, we find it all quite challenging.

So how has our trip fared so far? Have I felt overwhelmed and tearful? Yes, I absolutely have. Although the 2nd part of our trip has been entirely planned out in advance, alot of what we did in Vancouver was planned on the day or the night before because we had been so focused on planning New Zealand. More than anything, I found it more frustrating not being able to cook my own food: I just wanted a simple bowl of porridge in the morning and it was out of the question. I also got frustrated at the general lack of sleep: my skin looks weathered and tired and the bags under my eyes are a beautiful mix of green and purple. I didn't want to oversleep though, for fear of missing out: the longest lie-in I had was until 8.30 (which felt amazing) but it meant that we only got out around 10ish.
When you're travelling, you may also have days where you feel so tired but you put pressure on yourself to go out and do something, because you've come this far and will regret not making the most of it even though you're not feeling up to it. I have already had a couple of days like that.

Of course anything money related can be stressful: "do I save money for this? What if this isn't that good and we regret it? I shouldn't have had that meal it wasn't worth the money". This will always happen at some point or another, you just have to do as much planning as you can and accept that some things may be a disappointment. This has been one of our biggest issues so far. We are slightly over budget and have had to be strict on what we do and what we eat. We have also researched good free things to do whilst we're here to avoid overspending (surprisingly all the free experience we had here were our favourites!).

So there you go, a quick ramble on about travelling and leaving your home, your place of peace and comfort.
Just remember that some things are inevitable, out of your hands, annoying and frustrating. But everything is experience. It's character building, another page in your book. Take the good and the bad and appreciate every moment. Even the dodgy hotel rooms and uncomfortable pillows.

Hope you enjoyed this little post, I really hope I don't sound like I'm complaining in any way because I'm not. I'm so grateful to be here and that I have this opportunity, alot of hard work has gone into it and I'm making the most of every second. I've always found it important to think about how you feel and what's causing those feelings. Writing them down and sharing them has always been a strong part of The Twins' Wardrobe.

Holly x

Location: Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver

Holly is wearing: 

Polka Dot skirt and Embroidered Tee: & Other Stories
Vegan denim shoes: Toms


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