Traveling full-time can be hard for many as you seem to lose your self of place, your own home. We rarely ever feel like settling down, but we do like to feel wherever we are, is home.
We have been traveling continuously for close to four years. The first time someone asked me if I got homesick, I was shocked. The answer was no, but it did make me stop and think. Even though we are traveling all the time, we do make a point to visit places we have family too.
In 2018, we saw more family then we had in the prior five years – so being a nomad does not mean you don’t have time to see family. My younger sister, one year, even “surprised” us by meeting up with us in Oslo, Norway. That was amazing.
As house sitters, we have completed sits as short as a long four-day weekend to six months. The following items are a few things that we take with us to feel more at home. We purposely buy them in places we visit, so they have a double meaning: a souvenir and a sense of home.
My sister and I bought matching sweatshirts when we were in Oxford, England. It is one of those things that you put it on, and you feel at home. You could wear it all day. It reminds me of being at home, my sister, and staying in Oxford, a perfect trifecta.
This is my favorite. We bought a set of placemats in Paris that I love. They are lightweight, easy to clean, and take little space in our luggage. Since you will probably eat two meals a day using them, they are a great way to feel like the table is your space. Plus, they are cute and make me smile. Since I work online, I often end up using the dining room table to work at, like right now. When you walk in the house, you see them, and they remind me that this is where we are at this moment with a sense of belonging.
When we were in Edinburgh, we bought a set of coasters that have our Scottish tartan colors and our last name on them. Again, they are small, lightweight, easy to care for, has name recognition, and adds to our sense of belonging where ever in the world we are.
Traveling by car, bus, train, or plane, we always take a set of spices that we like with us. That way, no matter where in the world we are, we can have the exact same meal that we could have had at our home in California. Some spices are hard to find, and you can’t count on the house you are staying in to have the spices you would love to have. When we fly, we take a small subset of the big box I have when we are in the U.S. traveling by car.
One fun souvenir is T-shirts. They will remind you of where you have been, which is now a part of you. Your travel experience is a part of your past and who you are today. Every time my husband wears his “Roma” shirt, it makes me smile.
What’s App and Hangouts
Staying in touch with family and friends is essential. What’s App, Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts makes it easy to call someone to check-in. I do a video chat with my sisters and sons once a month and occasionally with my brothers now that they know they can. My younger brother was so surprised when he called me, and I was in Paris. He was amazed at how clear the signal was and promised to call more often.
We usually have a glass that we take with us for the bathroom. A personal touch that we use every day. When we were in Marrakesh last year, we bought a new set. Again a reminder of going to Marrakesh (which was fabulous), they are small so not heavy, colorful, and this makes a generic environment (the bathroom) our space.
Instead of taking bulky and sometimes heavy slippers with us, we have found slipper socks work great. I bought some at Custer’s State Park, South Dakota, and my husband has a pair from Budapest, Hungary. They are excellent reminders of where we have been, they keep our feet very warm, they’re lightweight, and give you that comfy feel you might miss from having a home.
Now, this is one of my husband’s must-have. He loves to sleep with two pillows, which is not always available where we stay. It is like an old friend. It squishes down to almost nothing for packing, and it helps him sleep at night. Adjusting to a new environment often, the pillow brings lots of familiarity, it is comfortable, and who doesn’t want a good night’s sleep?
My husband has his pillow, and I have my blanket. Living in San Diego for most of my life, I went to a lot of Padre baseball games. My blanket is a Padre blanket, the size I guess you would call a lap blanket. I use it on planes, trains, and to help sleep at night. It can be used to block unwanted outside lights and has that feel of familiarity.
Having your own travel mug, you know you will always have a mug for your coffee or tea. Also, you don’t have to worry about breaking someone else’s mug, especially when they only have souvenir mugs. Again your mug can double as a memory of somewhere you have been and a handy item to have.
When we housesit, it almost always means pet sitting. Especially when you are taking care of dogs, they have a routine that needs to be followed. This helps you become familiar with the house, the neighborhood (when you are out for walks), and I find it helps you adjust faster to any new environment.
People assume you are a local when you are out walking a dog. I have had people stop and ask me for directions and recommendations in many parts of the world. The fun part is I usually can give them the directions they need. Plus, every time you come back to the house, a loving pet is there to greet you. It is so amazing to meet all these wonderful furry ones; you have become part of their life too.
As mentioned, we have been traveling for four years with no plans of stopping soon. Having a few things that make you feel like you belong or remind you of something special are essential to have.
Often there are weight limits, or you just don’t want to haul everything around with you, so it is vital to select a few items to take. The placemats, travel mug, and spices are my favorites. Do you have a favorite item that you don’t want to travel without? Please let us know. Enjoy your travels.
Special note–If you are a nomad, I would love to hear from you and find out what your thoughts are about how you make where ever you are home. Also, how often you change locations, do you stay for days or months, or… Looking forward to hearing from you.