What Do Nomads Call Home?

So we’ve been running all over creation for the last three and half years and living abroad for almost ten. In May, before visiting the United States we told people we were “coming home for a visit.” More recently, we found that Central Europe (Prague, by way of Vienna and Bratislava) still feels like home.

Vinohradska Vodarna - Prague, Czech Republic
Where Prague Feels Like Home

In an email just yesterday, one of our friends in Uruguay asked: “Are you back home finally or at least in the U.S.?

It was his confusion that tuned us into a more universal query: Where is home?

And more importantly, what is it?

Our Old Definition of Home: Four Walls

A few years ago, Audrey would have told you that home was a place where she could hang things on the wall — a pleasant, simple definition that took its roots in her childhood. As a child of diplomats, she moved countries every few years. Houses and furniture were provided, so what made a place “theirs” were the familiar items on the wall.

Going Out from Yurt - Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
How does a yurt fit into all this? It has no walls, but it can still be called home.

I never really got attached to furniture, either (though there was that little antique drop-leaf table that my mother restored), but I enjoyed the little offbeat mementos that I would pick up on my meanderings. And where I placed those mementos – a piece of Sonoma Coast driftwood, a stash of Sanibel Island seashells – that was home.

As Audrey and I moved together, we carried this philosophy with us and filled our walls and topped our mantle with new things: a 1959 East German school map of “Afrika” (Africa, that is) and a collection of miniature framed paintings of fruit that we purchased in the vicinity of the guy dressed as the devil on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

But what about now when much of what we own is strapped to our backs?

Today’s New Definition of Home: Familiarity

The other day, we were having lunch at a workaday outdoor café in Bratislava, Slovakia. And something all too familiar happened: the waiter came by and took away our beers before we had a chance to finish our last two sips. In Prague, during our next meal out, our waitress swooped in on an unfinished plate of taštičky (ravioli-like dumplings).

Those two experiences were irritating on one level, yet oh so oddly comfortable on another. They made us laugh. We understood them. In fact, we could have predicted them.

We looked at each other in confirmation: Yep, we were home.

Kite Flying - Vrsovice, Prague
Flying a Kite in Vrsovice, Prague

Knowing where to find lavash (Armenian bread), Indian spices, and Thai curry pastes at little corner stores run by Vietnamese and Turkish immigrants; watching trams trundle by on familiar routes; running errands that feel back-of-the-handish.

There’s no need for a map. This is home.

What Does Mr. Dictionary Say?

As I considered the meaning of the word “home,” I consulted my old friend the dictionary to find out that “home” comprehends a raft of accepted meanings including a few I’ve selected, in italics:

1. “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household”

Wholly traditional. My only question is: but what about those of us without a “usual residence?”

2. “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered”

Domestic affections? What are those? Homey things, I suppose. But darker meanings lurk. (I kid, sort of.) Maybe a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin, perhaps a place where you can easily lay your head down to rest.

3. “any place of residence or refuge”
We’ve known so many of these. Too many. But I wouldn’t really call any of them home.

4. “a person’s native place or own country”
For us, this is the United States. But the phrase “own country” creates difficulties because when you live somewhere long enough, you begin to see it as your own regardless of whether or not you are native. The Czech Republic became that place for us — to the point where our Czech friends would accuse us of knowing their own country better than they did.

5. “a principal base of operations or activities”
For the digital nomads and location independent of us out there, this one must have a familiar ring.

Familiar, but perhaps still difficult to answer. Where is Uncornered Market’s base of operations exactly? Virginia, San Francisco, Nevada, Prague, Bangkok – or wherever we happen to be? Ask us on any given day and you might get a different answer each time.

The Pull and The Practical Bit

The modern nomad’s dilemma is this: it feels nice to be at home and to recharge batteries, but there is always somewhere or something else waiting to be explored. And that pull to discover is irresistible.

After writing this ode to feeling at home, we don’t expect to be in Prague very long. We are looking for a short-term apartment to sublet in Central Europe for a couple of months so that we may catch up and work on some projects. At the moment, Berlin is high on our list so if you have connections or contacts there that could help us find a sublet, please let us know.

Until then, we’ll continue to enjoy this homey episode.

What about you?

What and where are home for you?

And if you are an expat, long-term traveler, or a full-time digital nomad: What does the word “home” mean to you?

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Comments

  1. says

    I like the point you made about the familiar. I suppose there are many “homes” one can have in life but it’s the familiarity that helps bind the concept together in my mind.

  2. says

    Home.. is so many things to me and so many places. It’s where I can sit down and breathe a contented sigh of ah I know this place. It could be swinging in a hammock on the beaches of Thailand watching a beautiful sunset, sitting with my best friend in her backyard laughing over growing up ‘home’ stories, catching a Tar Heel basketball game in Chapel Hill, or sitting with gorillas in a Ugandan forest. Home is a moment of peace, freedom, and happiness. I don’t find home in stuff.. possessions or structures, I find it more when I leave these things behind. Home is just living every breath as it is intended and being present in this gift called life.
    I love this post guys! At the moment we are struggling to make others understand for us just what this thing called home means and why we can’t define it to one place. I’m so glad you understand.

  3. says

    Six months into my own long term travel adventure I have truly begun to appreciate all of the homes I make along the way. Just yesterday I arrived in Finale Ligure, Italy my new home for the next month or so where I will be spending my time rock climbing. After a month of near constant movement this home is very welcome. I have even unpacked my bags!

    With so much movement home does become a relative term. What I think your article does well is point out that home is more a mindset than a physical place. For a long term traveler home can be found with quirky customer service standards or in conversations with a new friend met along the way. Hope you two find an excellent home in Berlin for the next few months!

  4. says

    Great article. This question of home is an interesting one, as you say especially for expats and travelers. I’ve been thinking and writing about the subject myself lately.
    http://www.groundedtraveler.com/2010/05/30/what-is-home/
    The closest that I can come to is that Home is more of a mental state than a physical one. I’ve met some amazing travelers that literally seem to always be “at home” as they carry it in their head all the time. For me it is certainly partly the security of four walls that separate the outside from the private and friends to be around.

  5. says

    Awesome post about a concept we contemplate often.

    We’ve been on the road for just over 3 years as well… but for us, we have a shelter that moves with us. Our home & office is a little fiberglass egg on wheels (ie. an RV). Even so, the word ‘home’ generally has a meaning of a physical stationary place to many folks.

    As we domiciled in South Dakota (which we’ve only been to once to get our driver’s licenses) when we present our SD license or folks see our SD tags on or vehicle – they often remark ‘Wow, you’re a long way from home!’.

    To which we usually just point to our little house on wheels and say ‘No we’re not.. we’re probably closer to ours than you are to yours.’

    It always makes a fun conversation that opens minds about the concept of home.

    Also, we’ve found that traveling via RV we get the benefit of always being at home.. and always be exploring some place new. It’s a great balance for us.

  6. says

    @Anil: I had considered us of many homes as well. But there are a few places that because of the familiarity, make them a home-cut above the rest.
    @Andrew: It’s convenient that you can make home wherever you choose to hang your hat for the day.
    @Caz: More than a concept, a place, home is a moment, indeed. Sounds like we are of like minds.
    @Giulia: Planet Earth is home to all of us. There’s no arguing with that.
    @Briana: Home is where we slow down. I like that concept. Thanks for the good wishes. Enjoy your home in Italy — one place we always make ample excuses to visit. In fact, we hope to celebrate our 10th anniversary there in the place where we got married.
    @Andrew: I suppose we all come to ruminate on the idea of home, particularly after we’ve traveled for an extended period of time. I’m not sure why the question took so long to hit us. I can appreciate the ability of some to make a home just about anywhere, but the security, privacy, friendships — and all the comfort, however marginal that comes with that — I suspect that resonates with most folks.
    @Cherie: A home on wheels? That’s cheating! Kidding, kidding.

  7. says

    Great post Dan!

    When people ask my story I often find myself ending it with …but London feels a lot more like home now than Canada does. But then again when I go home to my parent’s house (the same house I lived in since I was three) that feels like home. The house and the parents part of it, not really the city.

    But when I return to London I have an instant familiarity and love for the place unlike what I will ever have for my home town or even my home country. And then when I go up to my aunt’s place in Scotland I have a little bit of both… a feeling of home for the house and the country.

    It’s damned confusing! I’m hoping to settle for a few months in Kigali, Rwanda and we’ll see how that goes. I’m not sure I’d be able to feel like home in a place I’ve only been in for a few months but I think the people you meet and the type of initial experience you have with a place mean that it’s certainly possible.

    I’ll let you know. Have fun in Berlin and good luck on the projects! I have one of my own that I might be picking your brain about shortly. :-)

  8. says

    A little bit of a cliche I know, but for a time home was wherever I laid my (rather battered) hat. I recently lost it in an alcohol related mishap. Does that mean I’m now homeless?

  9. says

    Since I moved overseas right after college, my parents’ house still feels like home. It’s where my books live, where I make doctor’s appointments, and where I can get around without driving directions. Still, every time I come back, there are a few surprises: My shampoo doesn’t live in the shower anymore, someone reorganized the cans in the pantry, the local ice cream store changed ownership once again. In a year or two or three, I can imagine that it will feel even less familiar. Where home will be then, I have no idea.

  10. says

    Audrey & Dan,
    This article really hit “home” with me! I have been thinking the same things myself, about Vilnius. It’s funny, the first time I landed there in 1997, I immediately felt as if I was home. I think for me, “home” is a combination of all of those definitions. I also think that one needs to be able to identify themselves in a place. For example the actual town where I grew up and went to school I no longer think of as home, because I’m not that person any more. It doesn’t help either that my parents sold our house! :) But we still have our lake house, and that feels like home to me-I know who I am there, and who I was as a child. So I guess I have two homes, Vilnius and Lake Charlevoix :)

    Thanks for the article! It was great as always!!! :)

    Jenn

  11. says

    Like Audrey, I grew up with a family that moved around the world every so many years growing up. Pictures to hang on the wall was very important to make a house a “home”. But at the same time having lived and traveled on sailboats, there is something about that little confined universe that reminds me of home. It used to be “home is where the family was” but now that I’ve grown up and moved out I guess I will be trying to define my own definition of “home” over the coming years!
    Great article, one of the best I’ve read in a while!!

  12. says

    I agree with Andrew that home is more of a mental state and the people that populate it are also very important. I’ve had physical homes where I didn’t feel at home, and been to other places where I was essentially carrying home with me. It’s an interesting question, and I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer completely.

  13. says

    Great post Dan. I haven’t traveled nearly as much as you and Audrey, but I’ve lived “abroad” for most of my life. There’s still a lingering sense that “home” is where I’m from – where I was born and where family is from. In fact, much of the pleasure of travel — the ‘otherness’ of a place – is based on leaving the familiar and home behind.

  14. says

    Our truck is the only ‘home’ we’ve had over the past 3+ years, and we consider it just that. Why? Not sure. Best answer is exactly what you said, familiarity. It’s the only constant, it holds all our stuff and it gets us from place to place.

  15. says

    Excellent post – so glad you’ve returned to some place you consider home. It’s a blessing to have places we hold dear and to have the perspective to revel in them.

    Taking on a nomadic lifestyle, I adapted my definition of home. For me it’s someplace Kyle is with me and it’s primarily a state of emotional comfort, a place of peace where I feel 100% myself and safe. I love to feel at home, so I can be somewhat generous and call a place home after a few weeks of being there, if it meets my criteria. Although I’ve spent months some place and not necessarily felt at home.

    I feel at home in Costa Rica and parts of Mexico. Korea is somewhat home, but my trump cards of home is always Chicago. Ask me where I live though, and that’s a trickier one to pin-down. Maybe just, Planet Earth. ;)

  16. says

    I left my “home” in England over 23 years ago to live in the Canary Islands. I often use the phrase “this feels more like home than England now”, and in many respects it does, because so much about England is unfamiliar to me now. As the years pass I go back there less and less, and yet, much as I love it here (and I never thought I would stay here this long) I have to admit that it isn’t home either. This largely because I love language, and I will never achieve the fluency in Spanish which I have in English. Then again there is that comfort one has from being with people to whom you don’t have to explain things, who think in a similar way to you, and who have had similar experiences so you can relate to things. I have this in both places, and yet it is also lacking in both places. A few years back I travelled a bit to find out where I might feel more at home, places I’d visited and liked, I didn’t feel at home in any of them, except for one, and I couldn’t afford to live there, so I am still searching. I’ve been here a long time, but it doesn’t feel like the end of the road. As yet I have no grandchildren maybe that’s when I will discover the need to settle and find a “real home.”

  17. says

    Dan, great post, very thought-provoking!
    I’m often tripped up by the question, ‘where are you from?’ as if I am not already home simply by being HERE. Home is considered that place you belong and that doesn’t resonate well with me because for now, & for the past three years of travelling (noticing there’s a number of us who all began around the same period…), Australia doesn’t feel like home. As a foundation traveller I recognise that my home has to be where I can stop a moment and breathe; it is where my soul can relax.

  18. Zoe McAlear says

    Love the comment about the mementos including the stash of Sanibel Island seashells! Our family agrees that our home is almost always defined by the seashells and rocks we have placed around the house as I’m sure you noticed….probably 75% of which are from that little island.
    Love to hear your new musings too….no article is every remotely the same.

  19. says

    Home? Wonderful question.
    Home, for me (who grew up in 5 countries) is now where my children are.
    We have travelled with them (now 17, 13 and 5) to Machu Pichu, China, Thailand, a full-on backpack tour of Europe, Mexico, the Amazon, Bolivia… and truly I feel at “home” when the 5 of us are sitting together having a meal or sharing a laugh — wherever on the planet that might be.

  20. says

    Great post. Up until the end of 2008, home was ALWAYS and ONLY my home town in South Africa (despite having lived in London for 6.5 years).

    Then I spent 1 year in Abu Dhabi which couldn’t be more different to home and yet I loved it. It felt like a ‘home’. I’ve been back twice since moving from Abu Dhabi and both times have brought out the same feelings I feel when I go back to South Africa. When my family and friends visited me in AD they always commented on how ‘happy’ I looked, the same kind of happiness I display when I’m in SA.

    So that really changed my perspective of home. For me it can’t be familiarity as I spent 6.5 years in London and not once did it ever feel like a home. I always saw it as a place I was living in before moving on to another.

    I now live and work in Libya and in no way does it feel like home. Even though its a similiar culture as AD I haven’t bonded to this country as much as I bonded with AD.

    I have yet to put my finger on what home is to me and this post has definitely made me think about that. What is home?

  21. says

    I agree with the familiarity aspect of home. I’ve moved around a lot myself, so anyplace that has my personal goods around me, where I can relax, and i understand the social and cultural workings around town, is home. The upside of all this moving and exposure to so many different kinds of living, is it makes it easy to adapt just about anywhere!

  22. Dessi says

    I have always answered this question by quoting my gradn dad: home is where i hang up my hat at the day’s end… Living for over 13yrs out of my native country, i happended to agree… Until recently, when i spent 2 wks in a small mediterranian village where my ex lives&works temporary… I felt more at home there, with him, than in my own Prague apartment. The rented, small, run down 2 rooms in the small white village, were the best home i had in the last 7yrs. So it struck me: home is where one ‘s heart is… At least for me. Thanks for the interesting thoughts!

  23. says

    Great post as always, and for me very opportune as I am sitting and writing this from the one house that ‘feels’ like home more than any other: my dad’s place in the middle of the woods in Quebec. Though it was a relief to come back here with its familiar smells and sounds and people, I still don’t feel that it is somewhere I could stay longer term. Most of us nomads are quite restless inside, so for a place to truly be ‘home’ it will need to satisfy me for awhile – and that’s hard to find given all the other places that merit exploring. For the moment, the closest thing is Bangkok: the people, the food and the lively, complex spirit of the city make me want to go back for some time. But who knows if I won’t want to pick up and move around again?

    As a result of this constant wandering, I think us nomads /LIP people are able to make a place home much more quickly than others. We find friends faster (thanks in no small part to technology), we find restos and cafes that we can call our places. We are extremely adept at making a routine in a new place, which goes a long way to making us feel more comfortable there. And it’s a skill I’m glad to have acquired on this journey, as it means home is where you are, and where you are currently happy.

  24. says

    Home is where our family and friends are. We don’t have a dwelling right now and we don’t plan on having one for a very long time, but it is exactly what you said…the familiarity that makes us feel at home. When we go to my brothers house that we have been to so often and sit on his couch that feels like home. When we walk into our parents house, just being around them feels like home. We are always comfortable at our families places.
    We are comfortable on the road as well, because like you said, that is familiar.
    It is funny, if we went and bought a place and put all our things up tomorrow, that wouldn’t feel like home at all.

  25. says

    Once I stay in once place two nights in a row I find myself calling it home. Doesn’t take much for me. I suppose if I couldn’t wait to get out of there it might be different, but that doesn’t happen often.

    The longest I’ve ever lived anywhere is San Diego for 7 years and I left 15 years ago. I still consider that home though since it was the longest and where my parents still are.

  26. says

    For me as a digital nomad, home is only one place for me, where I spent my youth, where my family is, Colorado. I have lived in California for several years, Italy for several as well, but nothing gives me the comfort that home does. I think you can “make” another place home for a time, but for me, home is truly only in one place. I can never shake the feelings of home I get when I go back to Colorado.

  27. says

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I waited to respond because I felt my view of things changing with each additional comment.

    I’m pretty much in awe of the breadth of issues your comments raise.

    @Kirsty: Great to hear from you on this one. As I was writing this, I wondered, “How would Kirsty answer this?”

    I like this idea between the separation of people and place in the concept of home. One location is home because of the people, the other location is home because of the place.

    The sort of people you meet can definitely make the difference between whether or not you have an affinity for a place.

    Feel free to pick our brains. We are beginning to see some glimmers of mental space.

    And Kigali, Rwanda. Good luck. We’ll definitely look forward to hearing about your experiences there.

    @Shane: Am laughing. Perhaps cliche, but the humorous twist definitely saved it.

    @Jess: Great to see you here. I like that you bring up the connection of time-distance and its impact on our sense of home.

    I remember having similar feelings about the place where I grew up and also about visiting my parents after I graduated.

    @Jenn: “Hit home.” Love it. I’m a sucker for puns.

    To land in a place and feel “home” straight away, that’s gold.

    To have a lake house that feels like home…that sounds nice.

    The concept that one’s identity in a place impacts their sense of that place — and their possible sense of it as home — has some interesting implications for what elements make a place home. A “home recipe” of sorts, I guess.

    Perhaps home is not so much where the heart is (as in the cliche), but rather where our heads are at.

    @Aly: Great to see you here.

    Perhaps as you create your own definition of “home” in the coming years, I’ll be interested to hear about your evolving definition of “family” that informs it.

    @Sharon: Sometimes the most interesting bits in life are those questions that we can never answer.

    @Ian: Thanks for your perspective. For full-time travelers, the reflex is to say “home is where my bag is.” But you turn that on its head by shining a light on why most of us travel: to leave home, its familiarity, and all that behind.

    This raises a question for all those who answer “Home is where my bag is.” Have you sought to recreate home wherever you’ve gone.

    @TAJ: Home as a constant. Something you can depend on. I like that idea.

    @Bessie: Home as a place of emotional comfort. I like that because I can feel that.

    Home is where we can feel totally ourselves — which intersects with the idea of a “comfort zone” and whether or not we can be both in and out of it when we are at home and and when we are not.

    Am still struggling with being able to distinguish (for myself) the difference between “my home” and “where I live.”

    @islandmomma: Great to see you here and get your perspective.

    Home is fluency, perhaps?

    I suspect a number of expats could probably identify with this. The place where you are from is comfortable, but not enough people understand your need to leave. The place you went is discontinuous and comfortable, but not enough people understand why you left. We experiences a bit of that after moving from San Francisco to Prague.

    @Caron: Another tricky one. I suppose when people ask, they are doing so because it’s a conversation starter and they would like to find out more about you…at the root of who you are.

    @Zoe: I’ve noticed the rocks and the seashells. Great minds :)

    “No article is ever remotely the same”…great compliment!

    @Keith: I’m not sure I would agree that it has to do with culture per se. Even as a “Thinker” (that’s in personality preference speak…vs. a feeler), I think I favor home as a concept that’s difficult to ascribe, to intellectually deconstruct. It’s a feeling. And from these comments, there’s a lot of considerations that seep their way into the “home” equation.

    @Gisela: Wonderful definition of home. I can see it.

    Now, the only question I have to ask is when the children are grown, where is home?

    I suppose in answering my own question, in time. It evolves.

    @Tony: Interesting that both length of time (e.g., London) and culture (Abu Dhabi vs. Libya) both haven’t yielded a reliable definition of home.

    But it’s nice to know that you’ve returned twice to Abu Dhabi with the same feeling each time. That must be reassuring.

    @Melissa: I can “see” this and I can certainly relate to your concept of home. Traveling certainly expands one’s adaptability, but does it make achieving a state of mind called “home” any easier?

    @Dessi: Home is where the heart and hat is. I buy that definition. But your story of the small Mediterranean village is a fascinating one.

    I would be wondering “How?” and “How do I recreate it?”

    It’s easy enough to find a hat hook…but the “heart” thing, now that’s much more difficult.

    @Jodi: Agreed, today’s digital nomads and LIP people (with the aid of some technology) are more easily able to flex into and out of various locales in ways that make us feel comfortable.

    You use the word “routine”, which brings up two elements in the concept of home: reliability and repeatability. I think this is important. In order for many of us to consider someplace home, we ought to be able to execute a few tasks (finding food, certain errands) with some level of relative ease.

    I wonder what the explorers of past centuries would think of all this discussion of the word “home.”

    @Dave and Deb: Family and comfort. That has certainly been a common theme. And one that most of us can probably imagine, and to some degree, easily agree with.

    @Brian: In that case, you can probably claim to have more homes than most.

    @Matt: Gary said something similar. But in light of Ian’s comment above, I have to ask, if every place is home, then what does it mean to travel?

    @Suzy: Home as “truly only in one place.” That’s a courageous thing to say amongst a bunch of travel experts and digital nomads. And I applaud you for saying it.

  28. says

    I have pondered the “what is home” question to myself the world over as I have wandered. Over the past 3 1/2 years, I have come to realize what it is. Home is my significant other, whom I most recently now call husband. Cheesy? Probably. Did I ever think I would err on the sappy side of life? Nope. But there it is in black and white!

  29. says

    I’ve just accepted the fact that my life (at least for the past 10 years or so) has not involved a home. While I still may be quite familiar with certain places, such as India, Thailand and Australia where I return to quite often and have many friends, the main reason I return to these places in the end is because they continue to surprise me, to challenge me and ultimately, to offer me an education I can’t find anywhere else. I’m not sure I would return to those places as much if I felt too comfortable (as if I’m home) when I’m there.

    I am actually most comfortable if I have my backpack nearby and I’m able to take off on a moment’s notice to anywhere I wish to explore. So I guess my home is a combination of the freedom and desire to continue my adventures that has guided my travels all these years.

  30. says

    @Claire: Another vote for “home is where the heart is.” Sappy perhaps, but a pretty clear definition nonetheless.

    @Earl: No home. Now there’s an introspective nomad. I wondered if anyone would weigh in with this view.

    I really like the concept of home = freedom, by the way. When I think of this, I think of the guy with all of his belongings stuffed into a rucksack on a stick sitting out under the stars.

    @Johanna: I can appreciate that. But we’ve dabbled in a few kitchens that are, let’s say, less than home-like. However, we can definitely identify with the concept of “home is where I can cook something.” We sometimes tell people that having a kitchen and the opportunity to cook becomes a bit of a luxury on the road.

  31. says

    What a tough question to answer. I know Home is a state of mind really, most people consider it a place they sleep and a place that houses their stuff. My son and I have been traveling for over a year and we don’t have stuff and we sleep at many different places, towns, countries.. Home to me is wherever my son and I are. It’s a place we are comfortable. That can be places we’ve been to, places we are going. The only one of your points above that I don’t agree with considering home, is the country of origin. I suppose we have identified with being global citizens that the nationalism simply doesn’t resonate with us.. Anyway, thanks for hosting this conversation.. great article and got me thinking…

  32. says

    I agree with your concept of home – the familiar. However, I have come to believe that for nomads… the world IS our home. Anywhere we go, we leave a part of ourselves there and we take a part of it with us. In the process, we become “familiar” and consider them our homes.

    Therefore, we really do not have a home, per se. Our home is much bigger, much broader, and more figurative than just a roof and a door.

    Where we have touched a life, smiled at a complete stranger, fell in love, or whatever whatnots that make us feel that we belong there… that is our home.

  33. says

    @lainie: Glad you enjoyed the article and the discussion. Thanks for your comment. The point about home being one’s country of origin was a dictionary definition, not necessarily our own. I offered that to show the evolution of the meaning of home — from the traditional to the modern — as more and more people set out on the road.

    @Mela: Home is where we have touched a life. I like that. In that case, I’d like to think we have many homes across the world.

  34. says

    Hi guys! I just found your blog from a #tt tweet.

    My partner and I have been traveling for a year now so I could really appreciate this post. Ironically, we’re both home-bodies! How do two home-bodies satiate their desire to travel the world you may ask? Well, we bought a motorhome and like snails bring our home with us wherever we go. No matter where we are we can always “go home” – as soon as we step in the door we feel like we’re home no matter where we are!

    As for my definition of “home”, I think it’s a feeling. It’s familiarity and comfort and a sense of ownership and belonging.

    I’m glad I’ve found your blog and am very much looking forward to catching up on old posts and following new ones!

  35. says

    Thanks for sharing! I’m from NY, went to college in Maryland, been living in Orlando, FL for 4 years. Ready to make a change…hoping to some how, some way, find the means to travel and not defer on student loans (I’m 27). I REALLY, really want to travel more and not be entirely jealous/envious of each blog post I read, like this one. :-) Been to Israel, Rome/Venice/Florence/Milan, Nice/Paris, London, and all over Costa Rica. I guess that’s more than most others but I want more. I’ll be following your blog! Good luck on finding a place in Central Europe for a few months!

  36. says

    I thought I had commented on this post but I think that China wasn’t letting me comment on your page for some reason. Anywho, love this post and the comments.

    Our definition of home: wherever our dogs and each other are. That’s it. Our families are important and so are our friends but, bottom line, wherever our dogs and each other are make us feel like we are at home.

    And, America. Not just one city but the country as a whole. Whenever we step off a plane and hear someone say, “Welcome to America,” I know I am home.

  37. Frank Osborne says

    We have lived on our boat for the last 4 years cruising from Seattle to Alaska (twice) and then down to Mexico where we have been for the last 2 years. People ask us where our home is and we point at the boat. Some people don’t accept that and press us for where we came from and we settle on saying ‘Seattle’. It makes them more comfortable knowing we have a ‘home’ other than the boat although we don’t think of Seattle as our home. It’s just where we use to live. We feel more ‘at home’ on the boat in Mexico than we ever did in Seattle.
    We enjoy your blog, keep going.
    Frank

  38. says

    @Michael: Great to see you here! Wheels and home all in one seems to be a common theme. “Home as a feeling” — that definitely resonates.

    @Mikkel: Thanks for your comment. Good luck with the transition. Like any travel and travel arrangement, it’s a process. It sounds like you have quite a bit of travel under your belt already, and some more time to tackle what’s left. (It reminds me that I didn’t travel outside of North America until I was 26.) Thanks for the good wishes.

    @Akila: China not letting you comment on our blog. That sounds like very familiar territory. When we were in China, we were experiencing closed doors (or at least very heavily monitored ones) across the internet. The 30-40,000 internet monitors there are certainly doing their jobs :)

    Your definition of home definitely qualifies as new and distinct in this discussion: “Home is where the dogs are.” Although we don’t yet have dogs, I think we can appreciate that.

    @Frank: Good to see you here. Not surprising that so many peoples’ frames of reference cannot allow them to resolve boat = home. What matters, as you’ve obviously found, is that you are able to resolve it and resolve it quite beautifully.

    Thanks for the compliments. We’ll keep it coming.

  39. says

    Hi Guys! I love your blog. I’ve just found it through Eileen at Bearshapedsphere.

    It’s funny the first post I read of yours is about this topic that is close to my heart. I’ve also recently written about what my “hometown is” http://bit.ly/9lfgj0 but there is so much more to say. It’s really difficult to explain to people who grew up with a hometown what it is like not to have one. I’m constantly struggling with how to put that into words…and, of course, looking for the easy answer to “Where are you from?”

    I’ll be reading more here:-)

  40. says

    @Stacy: Now there’s a different tack from others who have commented above.

    But what if you don’t have any stuff?

    @Marie: Thank you. And great to see you here. And a virtual shout out to Eileen for connecting us.

    Of homes and hometowns, it’s an endless conversation. Your comment jarred a brain cell that tells me that the concept of home is not a target. It’s a continually evolving construct, especially for those of us who’ve moved a lot in our lives.

  41. says

    For those of you who haven’t seen or already responded, I’d be interested to get your thoughts regarding how you would answer the question “Where Are You From?”

    http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2010/09/where-are-you-from-nomads-guide/

    @Caron, @Marie: Thank you both for specifically calling out the connection between the two questions: “Where is Home?” and “Where Are You From?” Your comments helped motivate me to write the “Where Are You From” piece sooner rather than later.

  42. Isabelle says

    The longest I’ve ever lived in one place is four years. I tend to call wherever I’m sleeping at the moment “home”. If I’m staying at a hostel for a few weeks? I’ll say “lets go home” and not “lets get back to the hostel” if I’m out and about.

    Same if I’m sleeping on a friend’s couch or staying at a hotel. Wherever I intend to sleep that night = home.

    Some people seem to need some sort of feeling of familiarity and ownership over their “home”. Since I’ve always moved around so much I’ve never really had that. I’m just me, wandering about life as I please. I don’t need a home in the traditional sense, I just need somewhere to crash.

  43. says

    @Isabelle: We usually call our hostel or guest house “home” as well. This is definitely distinct from my behavior when I traveled for business. Rarely, if ever, would I call a hotel “home.”

    Having said that, “Home as the place where I crash.” — That resonates.

  44. says

    One of my girls posted this as her status on facebook today… and I had to share it with you!
    “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

    I think that it really speaks to us nomads :)

    Jenn

  45. says

    @Jenn: Profound and pithy. To boil down a post to one sentence, this about does it. I suppose it speaks to all of us, nomads and otherwise. Thanks for posting this.

  46. says

    Interesting question, Dan. I always say Melbourne on immigration forms and when I don’t have time to explain my lifestyle. Where I call home now though is another matter. I haven’t had an address in Melbourne for 2 years and currently there no other place that is calling me for a permanent residency. You could say I am “between homes”. For now I will just enjoy the journey until that time comes.

  47. Chris Pearrow says

    I get this dilemma all time. Having been raised around the world and a constant traveler in my adulthood, I would say that the concept of ¨home¨ is more of a feeling rather than anything physical. I guess though, on the upside, us wanderers and explorers don´t have to worry too much about home-sickness :o)

  48. says

    @Chris: True, true. Though in my heart of hearts, I know there’s something that we all miss, something that we all long for, no matter how much we enjoy the freedom of wanderhood.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Uncornered Market — Audrey and Daniel (@umarket) are the most established of the bloggers on the list, and sometimes it seems like they have been everywhere (even Antarctica!). They have been traveling for more than three years, but they still manage to bring a fresh eye to each place they visit. Their posts are some of the most thought-provoking of the travel blogosphere. Read now: What do nomads call home? [...]

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