Not Going Home for the Holidays? Call the Homesick Hotline While Traveling

See recent posts by Alisha Prakash

While many plan to reunite with friends and family for the holidays, others take the road less traveled -- that it is to say, they pack their bags and jet off for a solo adventure. Traveling during the holidays -- especially alone -- has its ups and downs. While you get to explore a new destination, there's the usual hassle of battling airport crowds and long delays -- not to mention, the occasional nagging feeling of homesickness.

Thankfully, World Nomads, an international travel insurance and safety company, is looking out for U.S. travelers who encounter the latter. They've created a Homesick Hotline to help Americans feel close to things they love about home, no matter where they may be on the map. When nostalgia kicks in, visit the company website or dial 1-844-I-MISS-US. “The intention is to make travel the greatest experience of your life,” says Mark Hiss, editorial manager at World Nomads. “If you’re sitting in a dingy hostel somewhere on a solo backpacking trip and are feeling homesick, this will hopefully give you a little smile and a reminder of home. Or, if you’re just sitting on your couch at home and want a bit of a chuckle, that’s cool too.”

As for what will greet you on the other side when you sign on or call up, World Nomads has curated a list of sounds that are reminiscent of the U.S. “Our staff had a pretty funny brainstorming session about what sounds are the most American,” says Hiss. “We didn’t want to avoid annoying ones, like Saturday morning lawnmowers, but we didn’t want anything negative, like gunshots.” 

Photo courtesy of World Nomads

Photo courtesy of World Nomads

The seven winning noises on the phone line include the spirited cheers of a college football crowd, a sizzling burger, the buzz of traffic, the crack of a baseball bat, and fireworks, among others. There’s even a hold message from cable operator Kabletown, the cable company conglomerate from “30 Rock.”

Those who visit the website will also get five bonus tracks, including a Hendrix-style version of the Star Spangled Banner (performed by Hiss himself — after only 20 takes), Neil Armstrong’s moon-landing quote, and Obama’s mic drop at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. 

And speaking of the White House, Hiss tells us, “when we started planning this, the idea was that your USA Homesick Hotline message would be delivered by the President — Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then we got Trumped.” But the team decided to stick with it — participants will be able to hear a voiceover from actress Rosemary Watson. “We thought it would be funny if after the election, she and Bill would be backpacking across Europe, so we quickly rewrote and re-recorded the intro message.”

Things to keep in mind: the toll-free number only works in North America, and international rates will apply if you’re calling from overseas, so you might want to consider using the website, instead. And the site has more perks than just its cost-effectiveness, too.

“One fun thing I discovered about the web page is that you can play all the tracks simultaneously,” says Hiss. “So you can have Neil Armstrong reciting his moon-landing quote while an electrified version of the national anthem plays. It’s actually kind of moving.”

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