5 Ways to Feel Connected When You're Far Away from Home
Let's be frank: even the most experienced of travelers feel moments of longing for home. In this case, home doesn't necessarily refer to a building with four walls and a roof insomuch as it alludes to comfort zone, zip code, continent, loved ones, frame of mind, or version of yourself in a specific moment and place in time. Again, I'm not aching in my heart of hearts to return to the South Side of Chicago, but I miss laughing with my family on the couch, I miss knowing the exact corner where I'll find the elote man posted up, or blasting house music while driving too fast down Lake Shore Drive with my best friends. Home is also Trader Joe's. Yes, I could literally live there... so, herein lies the dilemma: how do we as nomads, explorers, or passport-stamp addicts feel close when we're so far away?
Social media helps; however, use it wisely. Spending 5 hours a day sighing and wiping away single tear drops while liking all your friends' photos from 2012 to now because you miss them is a bit excessive, but most of all, these types of behaviors will keep you from being present and enjoying your trip, or life abroad.
If you've met me, you're probably smirking knowingly right now, as you know that I don't Snap on the reg (probably because I say things like "snap on the reg".) That said, I still see its value. Snapchat is a quick and easy way to share your surroundings with people who may not be there with you in that moment. It's like sharing a live video... but way less time-consuming. It's not as curated. You can send videos or photos, and add text and geotags. And you can also send personal snaps instead of broadcasting to you know, the interweb. It's more intimate than say a text message, or traditional phone call as you get to show them the world from your perspective and through your eyes.
Start a Collection For Them
And no, not a collection of the tears you cried because you miss them so. Find something they like, and hopefully it's small enough and relatively inexpensive! For example, when I miss my Aunt, I remember that she collects magnets, so on every trip, I buy one for her, and even though it's been a couple years since we've seen each other, we both know that collection will be that much better when we finally reunite. Patches, exotic stamps, beer bottle caps, wine corks, postcards, friendship bracelets... whatever it is, having small collection of things that remind you of the person will surely make you smile, and help pass the time.
Food is my favorite four-letter word. So maybe you're not missing a person, or a place, but maybe a flavor, dish, or spice. Food transcends, well, everything. I bet you'd share a table with your nemesis if the food was good enough. One way to feel close and connected is by sharing the food that makes your heart smile. In Madrid, Khephra White has started a "Madrid Soul Food Picnic" that brings together Southerners, Yankees, and International people alike who simply can't resist the crunch of buttermilk fried chicken. In short, food could be the secret ingredient for world peace. No big deal.
Host a Dance Party
Yes, it still counts if you're dancing and singing "I want it that wayyy" alone in your house. Seriously, music just gets it. Luckily it's easily transported and shared and you can take it wherever this life may lead you. One note, one line of a song can-- without exaggeration--transport you back in time. It's so powerful. People coming together to vibe to a common rhythm is magical. If you're feeling far from home, jam out, or even better, find people who also love to jam.
Dust Off that Pen and Paper
Because pen and paper are so on trend right now! (eye roll). No, but really, let's bring it back to simpler times. Write a letter. Send a post card. Make a care package. Depending on where you live, this may be easy or difficult, adjust according to what's easiest for you. Everyone... I mean everyone likes getting mail... unless it's from Sallie Mae or Visa. Although I don't do it as often as I should, there's something extremely cathartic about sitting down to write a letter to someone that matters to you. It takes time, creativity, patience, and shows that you really put in that extra effort. Plus, you didn't spend 3 years learning how to write in cursive to throw it all away! Get fancy: invest in nice stationary, find cool stamps, heck! Get a signature stamp and pretend you're the President! Whatever floats your boat!
Feeling alone is never fun; but there are simple ways to feel connected that don't necessarily require you to drop mad money on a flight. Whether you're abroad for 1 month, or 1 decade, you're not exempt from these-- more often than not, fleeting-- moments of nostalgia. Don't fight them. Embrace them. It's a blessing to look back and smile at where you've been and you've crossed paths with.
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.