Sometimes you just want to get away. Your older brother and his friends are constantly camped in front of the TV, your baby sister won’t stay out of your room, and you want some time to yourself.
But when you get it — maybe at a friend’s house for an all-weekend movie marathon or away at overnight camp — you’re surprised to find yourself missing the chaos at home a bit.
What’s that all about? Believe it or not, you’re feeling homesick.
When you’re homesick, you might miss familiar things like your family, friends, pets, house, or neighborhood. You can miss something as simple as your bed or the tree outside your window.
Homesickness isn’t only for kids: Practically everyone feels homesick from time to time, even adults. Teens might get homesick when they leave home for the first time, like during a vacation with a friend’s family, summer job, or going off to college.
Why Do I Feel This Way?
Familiar surroundings, people, and routines help us feel secure and relaxed. A new place feels unfamiliar at first, and you’re not sure what to expect. You may find yourself missing the comforts of home and loved ones. Those homesick feelings are completely normal. You might feel a little lonely, sad, or stressed.
Once the new surroundings and people become more familiar, feelings of homesickness go away.
Tips for Dealing With It
Luckily, homesickness is usually mild and doesn’t last long. And you can do some things to make sure it doesn’t spoil your fun:
- Try a trial run. Before heading off for a summer at music camp or a vacation at your aunt and uncle’s ranch, spend the night or weekend at a friend’s house a few times. Get the feel of being in a new place. That can ease you into spending time away from home and lessen the shock of sleeping in a strange bed or being around different people. And like learning anything new, you’ll get better at it each time you do it.
- Bring something that reminds you of home. Pack photos or a favorite stuffed animal, sleep shirt, or pillow. When you start longing for familiar faces and places, you’ll have a little bit of home right there with you.
- Call home when you can. This probably seems obvious, but when you’re away, a quick call to hear your dad’s voice or your sister’s story about bathing the dog can be comforting. Plan a time to call or even visit (if you’ll be gone for a while) so you’ll have something to look forward to.
- Do something you enjoy. When you’re having fun, you’re less likely to spend time thinking about people and things you miss.
- Talk to a friend, ideally someone who’s going through the same thing you are. Knowing you’re not the only one dealing with this can take the sting out of feeling a little lonely, and you might feel better when you cheer up someone else.
- Write in a journal. Putting your feelings down on paper can help you understand them. Writing about homesickness can remind you what you really love about home. Be sure to write about some of the good parts of the new place, too.
- Stay active. If you sit on the sidelines, you’ll have more time to think about feeling sad. Talk to people. Throw yourself into activities — before you know it, you’ll be too busy to be homesick.
- Adjust your expectations. Sometimes homesickness can include feelings of disappointment when a camp, school, or trip doesn’t live up to your dreams. Accept the situation for what it is and make the most of it.
- Talk to an adult. Missing your family and home is normal. But if after a couple of days away you’re feeling overwhelmed by homesickness, talk to an adult you trust about your feelings. That person can help you work through this tough time.
Almost everyone has felt homesick at some time. Remember that there’s a good side to homesickness, too: It means you have family and friends worth missing and a place you want to return to when your adventure away from home is over.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: April 2015