Sometimes, no matter how amazing our travels are, we get a little homesick. It happens to the best of us. The constant moving between hotel rooms, the exhausting overnight bus journeys, the fear of being scammed and the ever-present dodgy tummy can take their toll.
At times like these, the only place we want to be is at home; wrapped up in a cosy duvet, watching crappy daytime TV and munching on some toast.
You could be standing in front of one of the world’s most incredible sights – yet you can’t muster up enough enthusiasm to enjoy it. Instead you want to be somewhere safe, and familiar, and just plain easy. (Boring, maybe. But definitely easy.)
So how to overcome these travel blues? Well, you can start by bringing a little bit of home away with you in the first place. To turn those impersonal hotel rooms into somewhere that actually feels welcoming after a long day of hitting the streets.
Here’s how to make your hotel room feel like home:
1. Find a room with a view
E.M. Forster kept going on about it for a reason. Because a nice view can be the difference between a horrible, cave-like dwelling and somewhere that allows you to reflect on how lucky you are to be away.
I think it’s totally worth splashing out on a room with a balcony, so I can sit there with a drink and either read, or do some writing when I get tired of all the touristic activities. Or look for a place with a communal balcony so you can chat to other travellers while you enjoy the setting. At the very least, get a room with a window; even if your view is of a car park, or the next building’s back wall, it’s better than nothing.
2. Add a splash of colour
Hotel rooms aren’t supposed to be works of art; and any attempts at it can make you wish like they hadn’t bothered (nauseating floral wallpaper, anyone?!) Most cheap hotel rooms have cracked, flaking pastel paints while fancier ones have dull white walls that aren’t exactly designed to inspire… or to make you feel at home.
So as soon as I move into my new abode – even if it’s only for 2 nights – I hang up a couple of sarongs and scarves (by throwing them over the curtain rail, or covering that dodgy painting). My most colourful sarong is reserved as a bed cover; so my bed always looks cosy and inviting when I enter the room, just like at home! If I’m going to be staying for a while, I track down some flowers in the local market. Because nothing says ‘cheer up’ like a bright bunch of sunflowers!
3. Don’t let cabin fever set in
If you fall into the trap of watching movies, catching up on emails or working out of your hotel room, it’s likely to feel more like a prison than a home. (The same could be said of your bedroom back in your own house, in fact!) So if I have to catch up on admin or do anything computer-based, I head out to a local cafe.
That way, even if I’m stuck doing work for 5 hours, it’s in a different environment. And when I return to my hotel room that evening, it’s almost like coming home after a hard day at the office!
4. Play some tunes
This is a handy one if you’ve got over-amorous neighbours, noisy kids or even noisier animals next door filling the silence of your hotel room . And because you’re in an alien environment, sometimes it’s nice to have something familiar to keep you company.
Before I travel, I always create a few playlists for different moods – one for when I’m packing, one for when I’m going to sleep, one for when I’m just chilling out, etc – and I hook them up to my mini-speakers wherever I am in the world. The good tunes have a magical way of chasing any travel blues away!
5. Pack some (portable) sleep essentials
Sometimes the hardest part of moving between hotel rooms is that you lose out on sleep. The changing environment, the new beds, the different noises… can all make it hard to settle down and sleep when you need to. As a result, you can wind up feeling grumpy, over-tired and anxious the next day – and your travels start to become a lot less enjoyable!
So to get better sleep, wherever I am, I take some small comforts from home. An eye mask and ear plugs are absolute musts, to block out early-morning light and those loud neighbours I mentioned earlier. Plus a little bottle of lavender essential oil (with a few drops sprinkled on my pillow) helps me to relax in any situation. And even though I don’t keep cuddly toys, if you have one that’s small enough, and if it helps you to sleep, there’s no harm in it!
For more tips like this, check out Sleep Advisor.
So, there you are, 5 ways to turn your hotel room into somewhere that resembles, however slightly, home. Try them for yourself during your next trip and you’ll find that homesickness may not plague you at all, once the road becomes your new home!
This is a guest post by Sarah Cummings.
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