A young reader sent me the following email several days ago that I thought was both extremely well written and thought provoking:
Hope you’re having a great time wherever you are! As you may have noticed I was in BKK a few days ago with my friends. The trip left me with a strange feeling that I can’t quite get rid off, and I couldn’t help but drop you this email.
As silly as this sounds, I think I get homesick. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually missed home, and there’s no logical explanation for it. The feeling started the moment I settled down in the MH lounge. It was crowded, and I was surrounded by friends (close ones, in fact) including a couple of lounge staff who’ve become familiar faces, yet I still felt somewhat depressed and longing for home – just 70km away in the same country. I caught myself glancing at my watch a couple of times, not to keep track of time, but to imagine what my family would be doing at home at that time (dinner time, movie night etc), albeit without me.
It didn’t help when I checked into the hotel. All of my friends went to sleep faster than DL when it comes to destroying their program, and I was still tossing and turning, again thinking of what I’d otherwise be doing at home at that time.
I then remembered the lyrics of Michael Buble’s song Home: “maybe surrounded by a million people I still feel all alone”. I called my mom once, and actually tried dragging the conversation longer even though I’ve run out things to say. Okay, I’ll admit it. One teardrop after I hung up, that’s all.
Back at home, I’m getting the same feeling again. It’s probably because I’ve just finished packing for my month-long North American trip, and I wouldn’t be seeing my family again until maybe February. If I could barely survive 5 days 750 miles away from home, I can’t imagine how I’m going to live for the next 5 weeks or so.
My purpose of writing to you isn’t to whine about how much I miss my mommy but to ask if you’ve ever had this feeling before. I’m nowhere as experienced as you when it comes to flying around the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re falling off your chair in laughter now.
I think the email in and of itself is worth sharing, though beyond that I figured I’d have some thoughts to share. Hell, I have an opinion on just about everything in life — to a fault — so I was kind of surprised that this wasn’t an issue I felt more strongly about.
And maybe that’s just a function of me being really close to my parents and at the same time being introverted. I started off mileage running when I was 15, whereby my dad would drop me off at the airport at 5AM on a Saturday, and pick me up again at 10AM on Sunday. So in a way I was “traveling” just about every weekend without going anywhere. It was no different than a sleepover, and just about as soon as I felt like I was l “leaving” home I was already flying east again towards home.
Maybe that kind of “eased” me into things, because then when I started taking trips on my own for longer periods of time it wasn’t like it was my first time away from home. When I’d travel it wouldn’t be so much that I’d miss home, as much as worrying about my parents and whether they’re okay or not. Even living cross country I talk to my parents multiple times a day, and that has only gotten “worse” since my mother got an iPhone and now knows how to text. So whenever I land from a longhaul flight the only thing really on my “mind” (other than award chart devaluations, of course!) is whether my family is okay, and if they are okay then there’s nothing I really miss, since I know I’ll see them again soon.
I’ve certainly been in a relationship and missed being with the person I’m with, but that’s probably a bit different than just being homesick.
I dunno, this is a really interesting question, and it’s really screwing with my mind that I don’t have an opinion on this.
I think what it all comes down to is that with practice everything gets better in life. After my Royal Jordanian flight in March I just about swore off flying, as I was over it. I was dealing with issues relating to the flight after the fact, and it was driving me crazy. But less than a year later it’s as if it never happened.
If these are your first few trips away from your family that last more than a few days, I’m sure it’ll get better over time. I remember when I started mileage running I’d always live in “what if” scenarios. I’d think to myself “well what if something happens and I could have avoided it by just staying home?” And then I eventually came to the realization that as long as I’m not making stupid decisions (and flying is statistically extremely safe, and as long as you’re smart about where you go, travel is safe as well) there’s no point in living with any regrets.
Where do you guys stand? Do you get homesick when traveling? Any tips/wisdom? Why don’t I have a stronger opinion on this?