Rethinking Home

rethinking-home1When I visited my family last month it got me thinking about the concept of “home”, and how the meaning of that word has changed for me over the years as I’ve traveled more.

I mentioned in that post that it felt strange going back to my parent’s house in the town I’d grown up in. In some ways it felt like stepping back in time, but enough had changed that it was more like seeing an old photograph: being there dredged up half-forgotten memories of the past, but the colors were a bit faded, the edges indistinct. Last month I said it felt like I’d outgrown the place which I’ve decided is true. Rapids was the center of my world up until I went to college, it encompassed all I knew: my family, my friends, my school, my first job. Back then it was definitely, undeniably, 100% home.

But when I went to college in a new city, Madison, my world got bigger. Even then though, Rapids was still home. The apartments I stayed in while school was in session were temporary arrangements. I went back for the summer, did my internships close to my parent’s house, drove the two hours home on a pretty regular basis.

When I graduated and decided to stay in Madison for my first real job, that was the first time “home” changed, although I didn’t think much about it at the time. Going home could be going back to the apartment I shared with my two good friends from college, or going back to Rapids to visit my parents.

rethinking-home3Two years after that when I moved with Julie down to South Carolina, “home” was both Madison and Rapids combined, the two hours between them an almost insignificant distance considering the distance from South Carolina to Wisconsin. Interestingly enough, while I also eventually came to refer to Beaufort and Bluffton as home, they weren’t “home” to the same level – again something I wouldn’t pause to think about until later.

Then I bought Cas and Bertha and had no home. Never having had any real attachment to the various apartments I lived in, or the stuff I dragged with me from apartment to apartment when I moved, I suspected, correctly, that not having a permanent dwelling would not bother me like it might some people getting on the road.

Previously I have discussed the way in which those first six months on the road challenged me most – not having a support network, people I counted as friends to talk to. Thinking back on it now, I realize that is a major part of how I define home. It was less the physical house, more the people I knew there and the things I did for entertainment.

Rapids became less home and Madison became more home as I developed friendships and a familiarity with the area and lost touch with my high school friends. But Rapids still has many of my relatives, so it remains home even if it’s no longer all encompassing like when I was a child. Beaufort and Bluffton in South Carolina took longer be able to fill that need of home, because I didn’t make as many friends there as I’d had in Madison. When I drove off to my first season at Amazon in 2012 I made no friends and didn’t get out and do much because of the weather and the desire to save money, and got homesick essentially.

Knowing better now, I encourage friendships whenever I’m going to be at a place for an extended period of time. Phillip Phillips is an artist who wrote a song called “Home“, and I love that song because it fits my philosophy of what home is to me as a full-time RVer.


Home is not an absolute place for me like it is for stationary folks. It’s a fluid term that applies to many places I’ve been that I’ve made connections in. Connections to the area, but equally importantly connections to the people. Like the song, I make every new place I work at into home. So while yes, I do miss a place when I move on, it doesn’t wear on me much because I’m always heading home.

So the moral of the story for you wannabe full-timers out there, give some thought to what “home” means to you and make sure you find a way to meet those needs as you travel.

I’m curious to hear what other RVers think about this. Do you have one home, many, or none at all?

* * *

The pictures in this post were ones that were suppose to go in my Zion NP post but didn’t make it because the WiFi connection was so slow and space was limited. It’s the Emerald Pools, enjoy!

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  1. Jerry Minchey on July 23, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Like you, I lived near Bluffton, SC (actually, I lived on Hilton Head Island for 17 years) and it never felt like home. Now I roam between Florida in the winter and the NC mountains during the summer and other spots when there is something going on. My motorhome feels very much like “home” wherever it is.

    • Becky on July 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Sounds good Jerry!

      I love the Appalachian range too, wish I could have spent more time there this spring but at least this gives me ample reason to go back for a longer stay someday.

  2. Jo on July 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Becky, I have enjoyed immensely the couple posts I just read and am in beginning stages of deciding what kind of RV I’m going to soon make my new HOME on wheels. It will be a first for me. The force feels so strong within, I know this is my next move; I am excited to launch myself and home to-be. My hope is to visit friends throughout the US between solo adventures as I befriend my dwelling. Minimizing is exciting; keeping certain treasures to take with me from boots to Buddhas are decisions I honor in myself. Pennsylvania is where I was born and while it touches a level of early internal home, it’s not my home. Friends and family connect with my home. More and more, I feel home within. I have been living in NM for about 14 years. At Home in the Beauty of the World.

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      How elegantly put Jo! Best of luck to you on this new adventure. It’ll have it’s ups and downs, but just from reading it sounds like you and I have a lot in common and it’s likely you’ll find something akin to the joy I find in traveling the country.

  3. Rick on July 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Being on the threshold of full-timing, this is a thought raising article. My personal situation is different. Mom and Dad have passed on. I’m single. Left my “hometown” when I was 18 (46 years ago). Look at the future like a beautiful, early morning sunrise. So many places and things I want to experience. Hope I have time. Why I am going now.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Sounds good to me Rick! Have fun and enjoy full-timing!

  4. Charlene Swankie on July 9, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I recognized your Emerald Pool photos… I did that hike… and thought it would kill me. Probably would be easier to do now.

  5. Charlene Swankie on July 9, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I recognized your Emerald Pool photos… I did that hike… and thought it would kill me. Probably would be easier to do now.
    Charlene Swankie recently posted..Family Medical IssuesMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Probably Charlene!

  6. Russell on July 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    While serving in the Navy I was stationed overseas for 17 of my 20 years career. Having to move to a new duty stations every three years I never truly had a place to call home. It was more less temporary living. This is the start of my third season as a full-timer and my rig is the place I live. However, when asked, where is my home, I always say Canton, OH. That is where I was born and raised and most of my family is still located there. I guess I’m like a giant tree; my roots are Canton, OH where I grew up and my branches spread out all over the world of everywhere I have been. When I finally park my RV for the last time (hoping, not any time soon) it will be in my home, Canton, OH.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      That’s an interesting analogy Russell! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jodee Gravel on July 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve also had some of that self-talk during this final year before we launch. Because I’ve moved several times during my life I’m probably less attached to a house as my “home”. For both Bill and I the only issue is that we will no longer be the “home base” for our kids. That part feels weird: no big table for holiday meals, no mantel for all the stockings, no spare bedroom to land between jobs. They naturally express no concern whatsoever about these things – being unmarried males! It’s probably best that we’re getting out before there’s grandkids :-).

    I think you have the right idea. Our world is becoming more and more transient and the change will be smoothest for those not tied to the traditional definition of home.

    Be safe. Be happy.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..A History of Purging – Or Why Do I Still Have THAT Stuff?My Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      I can understand how that would be a big change for a parent Jodee! Thanks for sharing.

  8. J. Dawg on July 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Another very good thought provoking post. While I travel about half the year in my RV, home is special. I think of home the same way Scarlett O’Hara did in Gone With the Wind clutching the red earth of Tara!.

    For me, home has a lot of permanence. Its a very specific place that provides me safety and comfort. Its a place where my family is. Its where my routines are, where I’m connected, and where I’m from. Its a place that I built and devoted much labor to. Its something I own, value and a place I love. Its where I’m most comfortable. It’s a place that’s serene and rejuvenating. Its a place I always look forward to going back to at my journey’s end.

    Thanks for making me reflect on this.

    J. Dawg

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      And thank you for sharing!

  9. Richard on July 9, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Home is where you hook up.
    You hiked ‘The Narrows’, when are you going to hike ‘Angels Landing’?

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      When the opportunity presents itself Richard.

  10. mike german on July 9, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Another very thought provoking post. I was married 25 years to a wonderful lady who passed away in 2006. We moved around a lot as we worked in hotels and lived in Wyoming, LA, Denver, Albuquerque, Laughlin and in 1990 moved to Las Vegas where I still live today. My home was with Ruthie wherever we lived. When she died I felt lost and homeless. I met another lady and now have a seven year old son. I have always thought how great it would be to be a just hit the road and stay on it. Ruthie and I owned two motorhomes and traveled a lot and now I have my Casita. Although it is not practical to do now and maybe it never will be I very much enjoy reading about other folks travels and living in there RV’s full time and very much have enjoyed reading your blog since I found it. Becky keep on going and having fun and I love your pics in this last post.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Glad you’re finding IO interesting Mike. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Roger on July 9, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hi Becky,

    I guess right now I have 2 homes, one my parents house where i am staying for now and the other my old class A. I noticed that when i was up in the national park working and people would ask me where I’m going, I remember saying I’m going home…my home on wheels. So thinking back, I guess from now on my home will be wherever I am at the time with my rig.
    i guess i am like one of your other readers, I am usually pretty shy so until I get to know others I stay to myself in my home on wheels.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing Roger!

  12. Curious by Nature on July 9, 2014 at 8:03 am

    For me, the old cliche that “home is where the heart is” truly applies. Sue and I have been together for 40 years, where ever we go together is home. Some homes are better than others, we’ve never cared for cities, and much prefer the quiet of nature.

    Being able to share experiences with a soulmate adds such a rich extra dimension to the experience, having a sounding board for ideas, two sets of eyes to observe and point out to things each other, and help keep each other sane! 😉

    Quite a few years ago, we spent seven weeks in Australia, touring the center and all along the east coast. When we returned to Canada, we where homesick for Australia. In retrospect, we missed all the time we got to spend together without the constant demands of work and family. This why I have no fear on embarking on a full-time adventure of RVing once we retire!

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for sharing! I felt sort of the same way after my two week vacation in South Carolina after I went back to work in Wisconsin when vacation time was up. I moved to South Carolina which was fun, but it wasn’t the same as vacationing there. It was the fun without the responsibility of a 9-5 job that I loved.

      So in the end, I went full-timing and while I still have to work, it feels more like a working vacation and is much more enjoyable. Good luck and hope to hear from you on the road before too long.

  13. amy on July 9, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Becky, I’ve struggled with the question of home a lot and all my life. I mean, really struggled. I moved often as a child and determined as an adult to “stay in one place,” and I did. I hated the place and stayed there over 20 years then I left six years ago and have been roaming around ever since and that’s basically the way I prefer to live now. . . there are certain places that I love though and that feel like home to me . . . what I decided about two years ago was to learn to feel at home ~in~ myself by listening to my heart so that I would feel at home wherever I am . . . that said, people make the home for me and that’s the truth, people I love and people that I come to love . . . as a shy person, going from place to place can be hard cause I don’t easily mix and I have to make myself but once I start mixing, I feel more at home. I’d like though, to have a place– an actually physical place– I can go back to but, I dunno . . .

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Amy, I hope you find that mix you’re looking for between having a traveling home and a stationary one. A lot of travelers have a home base and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I suppose your dilemma comes in where to make that physical home when your friends are scattered all over the country.

      Like you I’m introverted, and meeting new people doesn’t come easily to me. But like you said it’s worth the effort in the long run when a few of those acquaintances become friends and meet my need for connection – unlike extroverts having a lot of acquaintances does nothing for me.

      Good luck!

  14. edward on July 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

    No matter whether you are a nomad or not, home is either a moving target or it constantly shrivels as things change and folks pass on. The only way to keep home alive is to keep doing things and meeting new people (whether they are relatives or not).


    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      That’s an interesting way of looking at it Edward, thanks for sharing.

    • Bee-Gals on August 20, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Edward, your perception really fits the way I feel. My parent’s home in the town I grew up in always seemed like ‘home home’ regardless of where I lived and made my actual home. When my parents passed, and my brother as well, that sense of home seemed to almost vanish. Now home is where my ‘stuff’ is, basically….and as Becky said so well, where your friends are.

  15. Pleinguy on July 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I have never been greatly attached to places or people. Home is where or with whom I yearn to be. As I get older, the people that mean a lot to me become fewer. As I travel, remote locations like deep in the forest, up in the mountains or out in the desert resonate the most. Alas, I cannot claim those as my own. For now, Tardis my RV, fits all my needs for comfort and feels the most like home.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Metolius RiverMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I too resonate with natural areas, but I still need at least a couple people I can call friends in an area in order for it to mean home to me. I still love visiting those areas of course, but I don’t think at this stage in my life I could spend months by myself up in the mountains or out in the desert without contact with other people and be happy. I wonder if that’ll change as I get older.

  16. Lynn on July 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Becky – this post gave me a reason to pause and think. I still think of my parent’s place as home and also my own house but whenever I travel internationally I always think of Canada as my home so I guess home is wherever your warm and fuzzies come from. I would define home for me as where my roots lie.

    My RV is too new to me to feel like home but it sure is cozy so I am sure it will feel like home at some point too.

    Lynn recently posted..Happy Canada DayMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Interesting observations Lynn. I wonder if I started RVing outside of America if I would come to think of the whole country as “home”. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Maura on July 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Becky, I think you are an old soul as you seem to grasp and describe life in a way that seems like you are much older! HaHa, maybe I was just an idiot at your age? Anyway, just had the same experience going home to California, while I enjoyed the visit, I also felt like I missed ‘home’ and understood that my home is wherever our Lil travel trailer happens to be!

    Maura recently posted..The PurchaseMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      I’ve had many people tell me that I’m an old soul Maura. I don’t think it’s intelligence, more that I tend to do a lot of looking around inside myself. I’m more introspective I think than a lot of people my age, so I’ve figured out things about myself and what I want that many don’t learn until later in life.

      Congrats on your recent TT purchase and enjoy full-timing! From peeking at your blog it looks like you’re off to a good start.

  18. Kim on July 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Right you are, Becky.

    I have 2 homes. One complete with adored hubby, doggy, friends, and family. My other home is wherever I happen to be in my van. On the road, I always manage to meet amazing folks, some of whom I consider forever-friends. Just like you said!
    Kim recently posted..Astoria, ORMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks for responding Kim, I didn’t think I was alone in this. Hope you’re continuing to have fun on your trip!

  19. EmilyO on July 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    “Home” is a mindset to me. I’ve had around 30 “homes” in my 72 years so it is where ever I am parked for the time being. Some spots were for 6 or 7 years and some for just a year. My little Eggie has been my best home and I feel it is my real home. When I travel, I am not sharing space and I have my things around me. At this time in my life, I feel the need for a backup “home”, which is where I am now in southern NM. I am comfortable here so “home” is setting in.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for sharing Emily!

  20. Ruth on July 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Funny thing to read this. We went ‘home’ for a visit in May. As we were driving around late one afternoon I said to my husband ‘I know this will sound weird, but I do not feel connected here anymore’. Home is where we were born and raised but hit the road 18 months ago. Home truly is where your heart is!

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      I agree with you on that Ruth. My heart lies with my friends and family, now in many different places in the country. But also with the growth that comes from meeting new people and seeing new places.

  21. Page on July 8, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    The Earth is my home. I have had various residences, but they were only temporary. My next residence will have wheels that will enable me to explore my home more easily.

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Another nomad at heart. Thanks for weighing in Page.

  22. Old Fat Man on July 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    The Escapees Motto fits me well —Home is Where You Park It.
    Old Fat Man recently posted..Day OneMy Profile

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      It’s a good motto. 🙂

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