Travelling away from home to play rugby can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Experiencing a new city, diverse cultures and different food can be exciting, especially when you get to do it with your mates.
But being away from home can come with its challenges too. Most of what you know is at home and it’s natural to find it tough being away from the place where you are most comfortable.
Homesickness is very common; it’s something most people experience at different times in their lives. Whether you’re away from home for 2 days, 2 months or 2 years, feelings of homesickness are normal. It doesn’t matter what age you are or your culture, everyone can experience homesickness.
For some people homesickness can last only a short time and can be easily managed and for others it can be intense and feel as though it may last forever.
Homesickness can feel different for everyone, it can often feel worse at different times throughout the day. Some players say that evenings are most difficult while others find mornings the toughest.
Most people describe homesickness as a feeling of dread or helplessness along with feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, sadness and agitation sometimes too.
Some people can even experience physical symptoms as a result of their homesickness including stomach pain or upset, headaches, nausea and crying.
Coping with homesickness is different for everyone. What’s most important is finding ways that are healthy, safe and that work well for you.
Some players can try and cope with these feelings by training harder, eating more or drinking alcohol. Although these strategies might work in the short-term they can have a negative impact on our wellbeing long-term. It’s important to know that these feelings are very common. Watch the videos and scroll below to see ways of coping with travel and homesickness.
Having some helpful strategies whilst you’re away from home can help make things easier. Have a look at the tips below and pick one or two that you feel you can try.
Let people at home know you’d like to hear from them whilst being aware that too much contact can make things more difficult. Know the right balance for you and make a plan before you leave.
It can take time to get used to new environments. Try not to put pressure on yourself and allow a few days or weeks to relax and feel more comfortable.
If you’re travelling far you may have jet lag to contend with but try and re-establish your normal bedtimes, eating schedule and other routines as soon as you can.
Outside of training and game times try and use your time to do something, like exploring the new city, spending time with teammates, reading or something else you enjoy.
This might be photos on your phone or just something small that you can take with you that reminds you of home.
Chat to a teammate, coach or support person. Finding travel challenging is very common so chances are they’ve experienced it before too.
If you’ve tried all of the strategies above and you’re still struggling with how you’re feeling or if you’re just finding things really tough while you’re away travelling, then you need to take some action. For some players homesickness can be really challenging and there is no shame in asking for help when you need it.
If you know you’re someone who is prone to getting homesick when you’re away, then start planning before you leave on your trip. Speak to your manager or a support person you trust about your worries and concerns and ask if they can help you put together some strategies and tips, specific to you, that you can use while you’re away.