Defining Home: What it Means to Wanderers

Defining Home

I talked a bit about this when I wrote about experiencing reverse culture shock, but oftentimes, I think addressing the concept of “home” is just as important as talking about our journeys. I plan on leaving in about three weeks to New York to see some of my friends there, and it will be several months before I am back in Montana again—though I wouldn’t say that the state is the place I would call my home.

There are many definitions of the word “home,” but Merriam-Webster defines it as:

  1. One’s place of residence.
  2. A familiar or usual setting: a congenial environment.

As a traveler, an expat, or a wanderer, what we define as the place we belong is not always clear. We’re constantly moving from locale to locale, trying to find our bearings and searching for new places that embody a feeling greater than the definition above. I believe sometimes we have a hard time knowing when a place would be right for us or not—because there is still a whole world out there we haven’t yet explored.

A home base is different than the idea of “home.” It’s a place where we rest before heading out again—or a location to enjoy for the time being when we need to take a breather from our adventures. For Generation-Y travelers, this can mean your parents’ home, your hometown, or some other place where you feel you can stay for longer than a few days. We all have to have a home base, but not all of us can say that we’ve found a location that feels completely congruent with who we are as individuals.

I think it’s important to look at another definition, as well. Merriam-Webster describes “at home” as:

  1. Relaxed and comfortable: at ease.
  2. In harmony with the surroundings.

Instead of feeling as though we need to have a permanent, physical address in order to say we have a home, perhaps we as wanderers need to realize that “home” is really wherever we are. I’ve been to many places in Europe where I could potentially live, but I couldn’t tell you how long I would like to stay. When you choose to define home as the place where you feel comfortable and in harmony with your surroundings, your options are limitless.

What do you think? Do you think you need to have a “home” to come back to? Or are you happy wandering when you know that you carry the concept of “home” with you?

Image courtesy of Phillip Capper.

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