How to feel home wherever you are
I have never been someone who loves change. I don’t mind it once in a while as it can bring adventure and something better into our lives but I am not the person who goes looking for change on a daily basis. I like my routines, I like to have a place to call home and I like to have people around me that I can call home to as well.
Having travelled the world for this last year however, I had to come to terms with change and find strategies to feel home wherever I was. No matter where we are in the world, feeling home comes down to taking care of ourselves: knowing how to listen to our feelings, re-creating around us what makes us feel good/safe but also being courageous to go out and explore so we feel connected more deeply to where we are and don't just have the feeling that we are simply passing by.
Photo by Timothy Buck on Unsplash
Therefore, here are a few techniques that I found helpful for me to feel more stable and at home wherever I was and that you may want to consider too:
Find your private space and set it to your liking
Despite the fact that you are travelling or changing base often, you want to find a physical space that feels yours for the time you are there. A space where you can be alone and that feels safe. This is the basis to feeling psychologically at home. Usually this is an apartment, room or simply your bed area, in case you are backpacking. You want it to feel as cosy as you can and in line with who you are. Therefore, it is important that you check in with what is important for you when you look for a place to stay. For some people it is important to have their own bathroom, others want natural light or maybe the flooring needs to be wooded or carpeted... Whatever it is, respect these small details that can make a big difference. Also, if you are sharing your physical space with other people try to find a house/hostel that aligns with you so you avoid unsettling relationships and people who live life in a very different way than you do.
Pick a comforting ritual and bring along an object that you love
We all have something that makes us feel relaxed. Relaxation in our safe space is key so we can create the openness in our heart to start feeling at home. For some it will be lighting a candle, putting your most comfortable wear-at-home clothes or buying a plant.
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
On the other hand, you might want to bring with you at least one object that has a special meaning to you. Looking and having these objects to your reach will help you feel connected to what you value, bring up beautiful memories and make you feel good. I have found that bringing pictures, a crystal or a necklace that holds a special place in my heart promotes a feeling of vulnerability and connection instead of closing myself up as a defence mechanism as a result of being far from home. In fact, maintaining our mind, heart and soul open is key if we want to truly appreciate the place we are in. Most of the times I create an altar in the spaces that I move into because having a sacred and spiritual space helps me feel safe.
Connect with people & your community
Once your physical space is ensured you want to work on your community. We are creatures of connection and therefore relating with people is essential for our well-being and feeling at home. There are several ways to meet new people but the best way by far is through pursuing your interests wherever you are. Get involved with Meetup groups that share the same interests for example or attend classes of your favourite sport to be exposed to your community and at the same time do something you love. If you are travelling or moving places with friends or your partner, rejoice in knowing that home is much more than a physical space. It is also about being next to the ones we love and care for us.
While travelling, I noticed that the places we enjoyed the most where generally the places where we decided to stay for a longer period of time so we could really enjoy our time there and get involved in that place more profoundly. Backpacking is great to see places and be exposed to new cultures but it can be more unsettling at a personal level because it leaves little space for integration, little room to grow your roots in each place and to truly connect with the local people. Therefore, we found slowing down is a great tool to start feeling more connected and at home wherever we were. Not just at a physical level but also slowing down at mental level and being more mindful so we could connect deeper to the world around us.
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash
Creating a routine that is familiar to you
Habits and routines can bring us a lot of comfort in the midst of change. Whether it is waking up at the same time everyday, going to the same coffee shop or going for a run at the same time, having these routines wherever we are can bring us comfort and the feeling we are at home.
After two months of hopping in India every 2-3 days, we decided to stop in a place for a whole week and do nothing more than going to the same restaurant for every meal, staying in the same hotel, going to the same beach and doing the same sports we loved. This routine and break from the unknown allowed us to recharge and re-create the feeling of stability we would have at home.
What works very well, is eating a dish or a treat that you would eat back home if travelling or adopting the same diet you had if you moved country. Our eating habits are deeply ingrained in who we are and having as little as a treat you would have at home can have a profound impact on how we feel.
Go out and explore
Last but not least, our experience at the new place we are in will depend on our willingness to go out and explore. A fearless attitude and positive mind-set play a big role in our experience and set the stage to building a deeper connection to the world around us that is necessary to feel at home. Therefore, take responsibility for your experience by being curious, showing enthusiasm and going out to wander.
Therefore, home is wherever we feel safe, connected, understood, and loved. The more present and engaged we are with both ourselves and the world around us, the easier it will be to feel at home anywhere in the world.