I was reading through some comments made on Facebook last week (Wow, so there’s a phrase I wouldn’t have typed a few years ago) and one in particular stood out. It was in response to a few travel announcements I made and it read, “I thought you were always on the road.” That stuck with me and made me realize that maybe people don’t really know about me or my life. Maybe they think I’m am always on the road, which is definitely not the case. Then I started thinking more about that nomadic lifestyle, something so romantic in concept but a way of living that is definitely not for everyone, including myself.
The fact is that when I’m at home I have a pretty normal life. I have a partner of 11 years, three dogs, a house with mortgage attached, car, grocery lists, Home Owner Association meetings (9th circle of Hell) and all of the other trappings of modern life in the American suburbs. I live near Washington, DC so there are lots of options when it comes to shopping, eating and cultural events, but other than that I think I’m a lot like millions of other middle-class Americans. Well, except that my job is sort of self-created and I tend to travel – a lot.
I started this site three years ago as an escape, a creative outlet from a dreary job. It grew and today it is my only job, having lost the 9-5 soul-sucking one last year. There are definitely pros and cons to this change in careers, and I’ve been doing lots of things in order to bring in money including working for a travel blogging conference. More than anything, this shift has allowed me to do what I’ve always wanted to do, make travel my career.
Looking back at my travel schedule for the last twelve months I have been on 18 trips to a wide variety of locations around the world. I don’t say this to brag, I say it to show that my travel life is far from average, and I get that. But it’s also my job, so that should be taken into account as well. Why this is all so interesting is that even though travel is a true passion (and it is) and there’s nothing more I enjoy than being on the road (it’s true, there isn’t) I have found that at my core, my base I think I’m a bit of a homebody.
Whenever I travel I put a two-week maximum on my trip not because I’m worried about my dogs or partner or my ability to get any writing done (all valid concerns) but because I just don’t like being away from home that long. I start to miss the aforementioned partner and dogs, I miss my bed and sofa, I miss being able to open my fridge and pop open a Diet Coke whenever I want to. These just aren’t esoteric concepts, I feel all of this deeply when I’m away from home too long.
It’s an odd thing to be a homesick wanderluster, but there you have it, that is exactly what I am. Just as I could never imagine my life without a trip on the horizon, I also can’t imagine a life without a home, one that is nomadic. It takes a certain type of personality to be able to do this, one without those connections and ties, which is neither good nor bad, it’s just different. But it’s not just the house and dogs, it’s at the core of one’s personality I think. When I was in my early 20s I craved the suburban life, I physically ached for a house and yard with dogs playing in it. It’s just how I was wired. Others don’t feel the same way, in fact for many it’s a bizarre concept. Neither one is right or wrong, they are just incredibly different ways of looking at the world.
I’m not sure there’s a real point to this post and I’m sorry if you feel like you’ve wasted the last 2 minutes of your life. But I felt it important to share a little bit more of who I am as a person. I love to travel, it’s my job now and I never want to consider life without it. I want to be on the road often and I am always on the lookout for fun, new experiences. But at the same time I know that I’ll never be that itinerant explorer on the road for months at a time, living from adventure to adventure. Part of me is sad that I’m not that guy, but I can’t control who I am any more than I can the weather or the movement of the planets. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to cuddle with my dogs and watch Real Housewives of Orange County.
31 thoughts on “Confessions of a Traveling Homebody”
I’m similar, I’m really stuck on home too. I love to travel, but I couldn’t imagine giving up my apartment and becoming a nomad at this point. Since I’ve started traveling more, I’ve noticed I appreciate home more. One, I consciously enjoy the lazy weekends at home, and two, I tend to make more of an effort to utilize my city.
I absolutely agree with both points. As Dorothy said, there’s no place like home. :)
I’m stuck between desiring the two lifestyles at the moment, but for the past 2 years we’ve been like you, having a base and taking short trips!
But looking to hit the road in a big way for a year or two and then finally settling down with that house and yard. Time will tell, but that’s the rough plan :-)
I think that’s a great one! Truth be told, I’ve never spent more than 1 month at a time on the road and I’m curious what it would be like. Not sure that I’ll ever get that chance, but I’m willing to try it I think.
Thank you for this post. I don’t think it waste 2 minutes of my life. It let me, as a semi-new reader, into your life a little but more and taught me more about you. I’ll be leaving for (at least) a year to teach in Spain and I couldn’t be more excited. However, I also know that I will miss home: family, friends, and community. I’m looking forward to travel, but will always enjoy being home too. I’m hoping my experiences abroad will help me better my community at home.
Thanks Mike and I’m glad I didn’t waste your time :)
When people talk about living the dream, I think this is what they mean. It’s the best of both worlds isn’t it?
LOL, well it certainly has its ups and downs but I love it.
I am the exact same way, that’s why I would never do a RTW trip! :)
Great article – I appreciate the honesty. We are only a 1.5 years into our new non 9 – 5 lifestyle and we are trying to figure out the balance.
I also crave a homebase and my stuff out of boxes when I come home…. but after a few weeks back I’m already planning our next trip out. It’s a fine line of me wanting both worlds the constant travel and the community back home. We’ve been traveling pretty much non stop and now are working on figuring out our routine and what it will look like.
That was not at all a waste of my 2 minutes! Thanks for writing this post (which at first, I read as “Confessions of a Traveling Homeboy” – what?!), because I was one of those people who assumed you were nomadic, as seems to be the norm among travel bloggers…or maybe it’s just the stereotype. Either way, I think it’s important that people don’t necessarily always make the automatic assumption that travel blogger = nomad, just as it’s important not to make assumptions about a person in one area of their life based on another.
It’s definitely a stereotype, in fact I think more of us ARE NOT nomadic, not that it really matters :)
I really appreciate this post Matt. While I love traveling there are other parts of my life that I love too – parts that make me want to keep a home base for at least the time being.
Sometimes it definitely feels like the internet at large is telling us all that the “only” way to travel is to be on the road full time, nomadic style. So it’s great to see travel bloggers like you sharing your travel style and what works for you.
I try to keep in mind that my travel style is just my way, not “THE” way.
Thanks so much Adina, I appreciate it. That’s the beauty of travel, it is entirely specific to our own likes and dislikes.
Loved your post, Matt! You’re not the only one who loves to travel, but is happy to see home base, too. Although I would like to travel more, for me it’s always good to come home.
Thanks Sharon, there’s nothing quite like home is there?
Hi there again Matt. I loved this post. Don’t even dare to say it is a waste of time for us who enjoy reading your articles! This one provides a somewhat deeper sense of a human dimension from someone that is already a great travel blogger and it enriches the image we perceive of you. Anyhow thanks a lot for sharing this so intimate part of yor life. I always enjoy the whole travelling experience: from the very begining- planning- to the last part, coming back home to enjoy it: bed, home made food…and specially partner. Love from Madrid,
Aw, thanks so much Gio I REALLY appreciate that.
I found this a really refreshing blog post – in an internet full of travel stories and experiences you usually only tend to find extremes. People who have given up everything and are just moving from place to place round the world, or who are circumnavigating it on a boat or a bike or something similarly as impressive. I have done a drop of travelling in my life, and yet I yearn to do more, but I am limited by my lack of funds. It’s both interesting and refreshing to hear that somebody does this as part of their job, but their trips aren’t necessarily months on end and they love to go back to a familiar base at the conclusion of their trip. Had I not read this, I certainly would have got the impression of somebody constantly out there, travelling. It makes me question my current impressions of other bloggers and writers – perhaps they spend more time at home than I ever realised.
Thanks for this.
Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them. A large number of us are not, in fact, nomadic. We absolutely travel a lot, no doubt there, but truly nomadic writers I think are actually the minority. Even someone on a round-the-world usually isn’t gone for more than 1-2 years.
Travel is possible for anyone, just a few simple changes can help get you there. When I was working full time I stopped buying a $5 Starbucks every day and saved $1,000 just like that. There are always ways :)
As much as I love to travel, I couldn’t be a perpetual nomad either. I too love knowing that i can come home and have a lineup of reality shows waiting on my DVR!
Oh don’t get me started, I would love to find a way to watch my DVR on the road. My poor partner has to wait for me to get home LOL
You always have that good way of tapping into the core of an idea — thanks for that.
Conrad and I are 72 and 59, respectively, and have been nomads for three years. All our lives we wanted to do this and have found this (house sitting) lifestyle more than we ever dreamed. We’re changed. We’re better people and we’re a lot closer to each other.
But we need a home. We kept talking about having a garden again or arranging the furniture the way we want.
We purchased a yet-to-be-constructed condo and will move in in a few months. We’re super excited, even though it will curtail the traveling somewhat. You know — we’ve got a mortgage payment now! But after three years, we’re so happy to settle down.
Bottom line: I think you gotta have a balance of both.
Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
Thanks Josie and I love your story! As my mother used to say, everything in moderation. :)
I just figured that you traveled all the time. I agree with you that it is nice to have a home. I like to think that I could take off and travel for long periods but I know that it would be difficult because I would never feel settled. My problem now is that I am home too much and not traveling enough.
It’s definitely a balancing act and very hard to find and then sustain the proper balance.
Big time! I know exactly what you mean. I’m always planning my next trip. Can’t settle without knowing where’s next. At the same time I never fully settle when I’m away. Everything’s different and I appreciate the comforts of home.
I’ve been mulling over the possibility of doing a 6 month trip in the next year or two in order to fulfill a number of travel dreams and while I get completely psyched by the idea and buzz off the energy I get from planning it I’m also realistically considering whether I’m cut out for being away from home that long. Whether I eventually go for that long or not I know I’ll keep travelling in shorter spurts regardless :)
This is the very reason I started Part Time Vagabond. I love to travel, experience new people and cultures, but I absolutely need a home base where I can recharge. Full time nomad just isn’t my thing.
Have you noticed several prominent travel bloggers posting about this very topic lately? Seems burn out is setting in on a few.
Well I wrote this a little while ago and it’s not at all burnout for me. I’ve never been nomadic, this has always been my travel style. Just thought I’d share what I think is a common point of view :)
Same same. I’m a certified homebody, would rather stay in than go out. But when I’m in a new place my other side comes out and would just like to tak
Take in all the new experiences being in a different place brings …its a good balance for me..I would feel lost without a home but I’d go crazy if i don’t get to travel once in awhile..
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