Thoughts on Long-Term Travel: What Makes a Home, Home?

Billy and I have been living life on the road for over 2 decades. We’ve been in dozens of countries around the world, staying in hotel rooms, apartments, a fifth wheel trailer and we’ve spent time on boats. We have house sat or lived in other people’s homes in the States, Mexico and Guatemala. Some people say they could never do what we do and joke that we are homeless. Sometimes we banter back with them and say we are homeless by choice. But it brings up food for thought; are we really living life without a sense of “home?”

What exactly makes “home,” home?

Thoughts on Long-Term Travel: What Makes a Home, Home? - Frayed Passport

Photo courtesy of the authors

In the early years of our roaming—even though I was blissful that I was traveling the world—I had a niggling, underlying anxiety, a repressed feeling that I “should” be settling down in one location.

Isn’t that what people were telling me? Isn’t that what adults do?

Surely there was something unnatural and unsavory about changing our cell phone number every time we changed countries. For some reason it seemed more acceptable when all my numbers and possessions jibed in one location. But for over two dozen years, that hasn’t been the case.

Everyone has a different definition of home. Some say it’s when you have a mortgage, pay utility bills, have a pet to care for, and a garden with which to watch the seasons change. Others think they can call a place home when they have a gym membership, magazine subscriptions, a routine of visiting friends for dinner or coffee, and have scheduled golf or tennis games.

Certainly, having a sense of community can make a place feel like home with people you know and can depend on, restaurants one frequents and maybe a library card too.

We have had this conversation with other world travelers and for them, the idea of home is not a fixed outside situation so much as it is an internal feeling: Home is where your heart is, where you hang your hat, anyplace where you are at the current moment. Certainly travel brings out this broader sense of what makes home feel like home.

Wandering the world opens up our perceptions and causes us to come into contact with new ideas, like stretching the definition of “home.” Certainly there is no one-size-fits all. I would imagine that feeling comfortable, being able to let oneself relax, having friends and people we trust, familiar surroundings, and a cozy routine all contribute to the feeling of being at home. Being on the road hones that skill of making any place we visit seem home-like.

In fact, just yesterday at a lunch with friends we were asked where we consider home to be. In our case we have several home bases from which we travel and we consider any of these places to be home. But mostly, we view ourselves as global citizens and ambassadors of goodwill wherever we go.

How about you? Have you ever thought what makes “home” home to you?

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.