The best way to deal with culture shock, homesickness and loneliness, is to be prepared for it. You are probably going to experience one of them.
If you are expecting it, then there is no need to worry about it, it really won't take long for things to get better.
The most likely time you feel down is at the begin because it is such a massive change in your lifestyle. However you will notice with time culture shock and homesickness disappear as living as a backpacker becomes the norm.
You will go through four main phases of culture shock when travelling:
• A honeymoon phase, where everything is new, awesome and exciting;
• then the shock phase hits and suddenly everything is not so awesome;
• an acceptance phase, where you start to feel better and get on with it;
• and finally an adaption to the culture, from where you can fully enjoy yourself.
Give it time to get past the shock phase.
"it's amazing the difference a day makes"
One of my favourite quotes to recall when travelling is; "it's amazing the difference a day makes". This got me through every time I had these little doubts and feelings. You may be having a bad time for whatever reason, but the next day when you're diving in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking through the jungle or having a few drinks with some new friends, all your troubles are just forgotten. Some people just don't give it enough time - one guy I met was on a plane back home, one day after beginning his trip - what a regret that must be for him now!
When in the shock phase, take a step back and think why you are feeling like this? It's not because you are depressed, quite the opposite, it's a reaction to your senses being overloaded with new and exciting experiences. Let your senses calm down for a bit and you will realise how awesome that is!
Build yourself up:
If you are worried about coping with travelling, I would highly recommend starting somewhere without too many culture differences to your own and build your way up. I started in Australia because I thought I would have the least amount of culture shock there. I knew if I couldn't handle Australia then there would be no way I could handle Vietnam. You can acclimatise like this in many other ways, for example staying in nicer hostels, maybe even a hotel at the beginning or eating western food before trying the local delicacies. Hostels are a big cause of culture shock - read more here about Living In Hostels.
Don't accept it, find solutions:
One of my favourite remedies when down is a long internet session. Catch up on your sport team, see what is happening on Facebook or check out videos of funny cats! It's the sort of stuff I would do in my spare time at home and it really cancels out the environment you are in and makes you feel at home. Listening to feel good music is good too, but try to avoid songs that may worsen your mood.
Read our Tips On How To Avoid Jet Lag - arriving in places tired and jet lagged will certainly not help your mood.
There are two main ways to beat loneliness. The easiest is to call back home to friends and family. It is so easy to do these days and it can give a great quick boost in spirits. However this is very much a short term cure. The best way to overcome loneliness is to talk to your fellow travellers. This can be very difficult when you feel down, but it always works. Maybe compare observations; you might be down about the hostel you are staying in, ask people what they think, they will most likely agree with you and it will make you feel a lot less alienated and give you a common ground.
You can read more here about How To Meet People.
Above all remember to stay positive and get excited about your trip and what you have planned. If you are not getting excited about it, it is pointless doing. Nerves are a form of excitement, turn them from a negative to a positive thing by keeping an open mind and knowing things are going to get better.
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