Beating the Homesick Holiday Blues
November 11, 2019
By Sierra Sugar
Truck drivers are always on the go. They often spend holidays on the road away from family and loved ones. With three months of back to back holiday cheer, this time of year more than others can create that homesick feeling when you're stuck on the road. So, truckers, here are 5 tips to help you survive homesick holiday blues.
1. Don't Judge – It is easy to fall into the depression trap and mentally start blaming others for enjoying the holidays while you are away or blaming yourself for not making it home. Don't! Being responsible and taking care of your family is never something to be ashamed of or angry over. We all do what we must do to survive, and that often means working when we'd much rather be with friends or family. Don't judge yourself negatively for doing what must be done.
2. Start new traditions – Who says Thanksgiving is only able to be celebrated with a turkey three sizes too big or that there must be a 10-foot tree beckoning the international space station with its twinkle lights? If you work in an industry like trucking, more often than not you will be away from home for holidays. Don't allow yourself to drown in the memories of holidays past. Instead, create your own new traditions that you can do from the road. If you enjoy a religious holiday service, find a truck stop with a chapel to attend. Take pictures of holiday decorations. Don't worry about how good or bad the pictures are, they aren't for anyone but you, and maybe to share with a loved one back home. Pictures can be great conversation starters. Traditions can be as simple or involved as you want them to be, but they all have the same purpose – bringing us a sense of comfort and familiarity.
3. Decorate – Whether it is a flying witch gone splat on your grill, a fall wreath, or holiday window clings on the side of your truck, to follow the advice of a famous marketing phrase “Just Do It!” And don't stop at the outside, bring the holiday cheer inside too. Holiday red, green, and gold or fall leaves garland, twinkle lights, dollar-store pumpkins and decorations, even wrapping paper can all be used to decorate the inside of your truck for various holidays. Surrounding yourself with familiarity can calm the nerves and quell the holiday blues. You don't have to go overboard, though you can if that is your style, but put a few things out for each holiday. I can't tell you how many times we've had kids, families, even police officers and DOT officers at scale houses smile and comment on how our truck is decorated. We've been followed into rest areas and truck stops for excited kids to take pictures of our rig decked out in holiday cheer. The happy smiles on their faces makes it all worthwhile, helping us to feel a little less homesick during the holiday.
4. Use Technology – Gone are the days of hoping to find a pay phone in time to call home. Cell phones are chock full of features and apps that allow us all to be more connected. Use apps like Facetime, Skype or video chat to join in during a meal-time prayer, to partake in sharing what everyone is thankful for during Thanksgiving dinner, or to watch as your kids open their presents under the Christmas tree. Being hundreds of miles away doesn't mean you have to miss out on family events completely. Neither does it mean being stuck in a truck or hotel without entertainment. Use SiriusXM, Pandora, iHeart Radio, or iTunes to listen to holiday music. Use Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services to watch holiday shows during your down time. Kindle, audible, Bookbub, Chirp, and similar apps for books are great for reading or listening along. Read those old holiday classics for find new holidays stories to listen to. Even just changing the wallpaper and ringtone to reflect the current holiday on your phone can help lift your spirits.
5. Don't be a hermit - Being away from home during any holiday or special event can be difficult, emotional, and depressing. But remember, you aren't the only one. You are not alone. There are thousands of other truck drivers out there on the road, away from home at the same time as you. So, put down the technology for a few minutes to focus on yourself and those around you. Get out of the truck. A change of scenery always helps cheer your mood. Take a brisk walk in the cool air of fall or build a snowman. Yes you, the serious adult. Go play in the snow! Let your inner kid out to play for a few minutes. The fresh air, sunshine, and exercise will do wonders for waking you up and brightening your mood. Join another driver, even a stranger, for dinner at the truck stop. Start a holiday trend of bringing back the days when truck drivers actually interacted pleasantly with one another at the truck stops. Conversation is a great way to take your mind off your troubles. Plan to meet up with other drivers you know, or friends who live in a town along your route. Find a movie theater or holiday festival along your route. With ride-share services so accessible these days, it is easier than ever to get from your parking location to a restaurant or event and back. The whole point is to get out of the closed walls of your truck and out into the fresh air and interacting with other people. It will help ease the homesick holiday blues.
What other ways do you celebrate the holidays while you are away from home? What do you do to help beat the holiday travel blues? Have you started any new traditions out on the road? Share your stories and pictures on Brake Time, the new driver-driven community created specifically for truck drivers.
Sierra Sugar is a blogger and writer with a passion for trucking, travel, adventure, tiny living, and cooking. Involved in the trucking industry for over four years, she has experienced living on the truck 24/7 for 3 of those years with her husband, Allen Wilcher, a 30-year veteran truck driver who currently hauls for the entertainment industry. For more on Sierra visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.