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Simple ways to feel at home when you travel

As a homebody who has to travel for most of the year, I am always searching for small ways to make a hotel room or apartment feel more like home.

As much as I love to simplify and pack light, there are some must-haves for my own sense of well-being and the happiness of my family.

Whether you travel often or only every once in a while, here’s how you can use all five senses to help you feel more at home wherever you are.


Memories are intensely tied to our sense of smell.

One whiff of orange blossoms takes me to my friend Ashley’s backyard while a jar of anise seeds transports me to my father’s kitchen.

What smell reminds you of home?

Simple ways to feel at home when you travelPack a small candle, your favorite incense stick or an essential oil. Or maybe your feeling of home is tied to a specific food, which leads us to our next sense.


While I love getting a taste of the local culture, a home-cooked meal can hit the spot when I’m feeling homesick.

If you have access to a kitchen, try cooking a favorite family meal. If you don’t have a kitchen, look for a restaurant that offers something you regularly order at home.


What does home sound like to you? A favorite record? A familiar bird call? Street noise?

Make a “home” playlist and pack a tiny portable speaker. Or download a white noise app with familiar ambient sounds. You can even use the Merlin ID bird app to play familiar bird calls.

Simple ways to feel at home when you travelTouch

Sometimes you just want something to feel like home.

If you can fit them, bringing your own pillow and blanket can make any bed feel instantly better.

If you’re packing light, try throwing in a scarf or soft t-shirt. Feeling at home could even be as simple as putting on your favorite pair of cozy socks at the end of the day.


When we travel, I don’t bring any big pieces of art or picture frames, but I do bring one small plastic frame with a print that says, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

It’s a great reminder and doesn’t take up much space. You could do something similar, or if you’re short on space, stick a few photos in the book you’re traveling with.

Simple ways to feel at home when you travelAnother option is to stream a favorite show on your computer or phone. It’s amazing what an episode of Gilmore Girls can do for the soul when you’re feeling all alone in the middle of nowhere.

There is no place like home, but with the help of our five senses, we can bring a little bit of home with us wherever we go.

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    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Amy, that is such a great blog post! I am going to share it with my fellow baseball wives. We have to stay in extended stay hotels quite often. These are great tips!

  1. jana

    When I’m in a hotel, I always gather up all the stuff the hotel puts out (toiletries, coffee and magazines) and stash it in the closet. Then I buy flowers. It makes it more personal and less like I’m a guest.

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      What a great idea! And fresh flowers are always a good choice.

  2. Corrie

    Love travel posts. Just curious if you have a post or on a conversation on a podcast regarding dealing with jet lag with small children. We have Europe trip coming up in May with our two year old. We traveled to Amsterdam with him last year, and it went really well (thanks to our low expectations, he’s a poor sleeper anyways) but I still want to do everything I can to support him. Thanks!

    • Beth

      We travel back and forth between Asia and the States with our son (now sons) every year. I’m not exactly sure how it would be different going to Europe but we tried to do naps at the “correct” (according to the new time zone) time of day but would let him sleep a little longer than normal. He’s usually ready to take a nap because it feels like night time. While he might normally take a two hour afternoon nap, we’d let him take a three hour nap then wake him up (not easy! expect crankiness). For us, getting him to go to bed at night isn’t a problem, it’s getting him to stay asleep for more than 3-4 hours that’s difficult. It usually takes him about a week to mostly sleep through the night. Each night he’ll sleep a little longer. During the day it helps to go outside as much as possible and stay active – but don’t push as much as you would for an adult. Contrary to what I would tell an adult traveling alone, I recommend taking a nap the same time as the kid until everyone’s adjusted. That will help you be more patient when he’s awake in the middle of the night. Again, our time change is 12 or 13 hours, so I’m not sure how different it will be going to Europe.

      • Beth

        One more thought – try to have snacks available. It’s hard to get a kid to sleep when they feel hungry. For us we’re often hungry in the early morning because it’s close to supper time for our body clocks.

        • Beth

          Sorry, I’m a little sleep deprived myself (baby doesn’t sleep well). This is probably obvious, but try to replicate whatever normal bedtime/naptime routines you have and bring the favorite blankie/stuffed toy.

  3. Bev Colson

    Tsh, We are going to be in Rome as well as Barcelona in October pre and post a cruise. Have you discovered any small hotels in either city?
    Thanks for great shows!!

  4. Linda Sand

    I had a dresser scarf my grandmother embroidered for me. Throwing that on whatever table/chest was available did a lot for me.

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      That sounds perfect. Simple and meaningful.

  5. KC

    I don’t usually have homesickness-while-traveling problems (largely because I don’t have to travel a lot!), but I wanted to mention that one’s own favorite tea in a familiar mug/cup can do something sometimes. What things work for each particular person to evoke “home” seems to be particularly idiosyncratic, though – and then figuring out how to call that forth in a portable way is an interesting challenge. But exploring all the senses until you figure out your own thing(s) seems like a brilliant way of getting there.

    Not exactly the same thing, but we have a bit of cardstock-mounted (so, no frame glass to break), very light wall art that we poster-putty up as the first thing in a new home (we don’t travel a ton, but we have tended to move more than I’d prefer), and that on the wall does something for establishing one point of visual stability and familiarity in a realm of whirling chaos. Ahhh…

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I love the cardstock mounted art! I actually brought some with me this time for our temporary apartment and have tacked it onto the walls here and there. I also tacked up a few art prints for my kids’ homeschooling and it makes such a difference.

  6. Kristina @ Love & Zest

    I usually bring a favorite scented candle when I’m going to be in a hotel for very long.

  7. Danielle

    I love some of these and will keep them in mind next time I travel! It’s amazing how our small senses evoke such intense feelings!

  8. DC

    Totally agree re the “Hear” point … I don’t leave home without my little Bluetooth cube speaker to play my fav music to add a little familiarity & bliss when on the road 🙂 …. have to try your smells idea as hadn’t thought of that & to be honest most hotel rooms smell pretty “institutional” like so any improvement would be a plus LOL

  9. Katie

    Love this! I travel a ton for work too and I totally appreciate these tips. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Elizabeth

    This is a great post. For longer holidays, being able to cook is important to us. So is having some photos of home around. Really nice idea about the smells.

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