What I Miss About Home When Traveling

Filed Under: Travel

A bit over a month ago I wrote a post entitled “I’m Over My Travel Addiction.”

I’ve flown millions and millions of miles and even lived in hotels for years. Now that I’ve settled down I’m really happy at home, and my addiction to travel is over, which I consider to be a great thing.

To some extent I’m sure the degree to which I’m content at home is a phase, though it’s generally really nice to just feel happy to be alive every day, even without any sort of excitement.

Anyway, while I spent a couple of months mostly on the ground, I’ve spent almost all of April away from home. In this post I wanted to share the things that I miss the most about not traveling when I’m on the road.

This isn’t at all intended to be a list of complaints about travel, but rather quite to the contrary, it’s meant to be an appreciation of the simple things in life that I often take for granted when not traveling.

So, here are some of the things that I miss the most about home when I am traveling, starting with the most important.

Winston

“I really need some time away from my dog,” said no person ever. While I know my mom is taking great care of him right now (she sent the below pic), that doesn’t make it any easier. Heck, he really loves her and I doubt he even misses me, but boy do I miss him.

Ford and I talk about Winston no fewer than a dozen times per day, in completely mindless ways. I’ve even made up a jingle about him to the tune of the “Spongebob Squarepants” theme song. He’s always on our mind.

A regular schedule/good sleep

Nowadays I derive happiness from just waking up in good health and feeling good, rather than from thrills. Along those lines, a regular schedule goes a long way to making me feel good and healthy.

Having a regular schedule is better for me in just about every way. I always get amazing sleep when at home, I work out consistently, I eat healthier, etc. All of this contributes to my happiness.

Jet lag and all that comes with travel will quickly undo a lot of this.

Coffee

Good coffee is important to me, and one of my consistent biggest challenges when traveling is getting that first cup of coffee.

I’m lucky that Ford is more of a morning person than I am, because at home in the morning he makes coffee and brings it to me in bed, and that’s when I actually get up. #blessed

When traveling it’s not so easy. I consistently wake up outrageously early when traveling, and finding that first cup of coffee at 3AM isn’t easy, let me tell you…

A fridge with healthy snacks

A large part of feeling good is eating healthy, and that can be especially tough to do on the road:

  • Often we overeat when traveling, since food is a big part of travel, and we want to try everything
  • If you’re staying at a nice hotel you may have access to an extravagant breakfast buffet, and the tendency is to overindulge
  • Even when not overeating, it’s often just easier to find junk food rather than fresh/healthy food

When I lived in hotels full time I so greatly missed having a fridge with fruit, yogurt, etc., that I could snack on. When traveling for prolonged periods, this can take its toll.

Up at 3AM and feeling peckish? I guess I should just have a can of Pringles from the minibar. Really hungry at 3AM due to jet lag? Well, I guess I should order room service, and given the delivery charge, I might as well order multiple things, and before you know it you have an appetizer, a pizza, and a dessert. Oops.

My bed

While I mentioned the importance of good sleep above, I think it’s worth specifically pointing out how much I value my bed at home. Not only is it incredibly comfortable, but it’s familiar.

While some hotel beds are great, others aren’t, and when I’m in a bed that isn’t comfortable, I just don’t sleep well. Factors like temperature, blackout curtains, pillow quality, and noises, can greatly impact sleep quality.

Laundry facilities

I only travel with a carry-on, and I’ve now been gone for almost two weeks nonstop. Not having access to my washing machine at home is challenging.

Hotel laundry is outrageously expensive, and while a laundromat is also an option, I haven’t been in that dire of a situation. I’ve been trying to work out almost every day on this trip, so mainly I’ve just needed to clean my gym clothes.

Sadly this has meant that I’ve been washing clothes in the tub, which is… not fun.

Managed expectations

I live a pretty insulated life when I’m at home. I work most of the day, I work out, I spend time with Ford and Winston, and I sometimes go out to dinner. That’s about it. The reality is that I’m really happy that way, and I think in many ways I’m still “recovering” from my years of travel.

They say that the formula for happiness is reality minus your expectations, and the way I live my life at home, I’m really good at managing my expectations, and therefore pretty happy.

Many studies show that a lot of the enjoyment you derive from travel comes from the planning process, rather than the actual traveling.

Travel has a lot of highs and lows, and no matter how much you try to manage your expectations, you’re bound to be both extremely delighted and disappointed at various points in your travels. While I’ve had a great time this trip, I’ve also had several significant service failures.

Obviously there’s a lot more to travel than service failures, but in line with what you guys have encouraged me to do, I’ve done what I can to provide hotels feedback. At some point that seems like a full time job in and of itself, and takes away from the joy of being away.

My point is that when we travel we’re usually doing a lot more things that have the potential to go poorly or well than when we’re at home. That can lead to happiness or disappointment, and it’s that disappointment that makes me say “I just wish I were at home.”

Bottom line

Obviously there’s a lot to love about traveling, and I encourage people to do it as much as they can, within reason. However, I also think we have a tendency to remember the good, and not the challenges that come with travel (and that’s a good thing).

My point with this post is simply to point out many of the things that I personally take for granted when I’m at home, which present challenges in one way or another when traveling.

I’m grateful to be able to travel, but also more content than ever before when at home.

I’d love to hear what you guys think — what do you miss about home when traveling?

Comments
  1. For sure my dog. I’m heading out an a 2+ week trip this week to SE asia. My wife cried last night when my parents picked up our dog since they’ll be watching him while we’re gone.

    It’s heartbreaking. For a split second I considered cancelling the trip, but then I remembered how much joy travelling (generally) brings me.

    I’ll just imagine his happy face when I finally get to see him and that’ll help get me through the trip. That and dumplings…..

  2. It’s always nice to change the pace or rhythm. Since I only travel over sees once or twice a year, I feel I need a break from home (same chores every day) and from work. So, it is nice to get away from home and enjoy the beauty of mostly Europe! Even though, when on travel for 2-3 weeks, I also miss home. I think this is just human thing?

  3. Other word, you are getting older. Same here, I spent few several-weeks-kinda trips last 3 months and it’s not fun anymore. Like to stick with my home routine.

    Next few years, I might schedule 1 month travel then no travel for 3-4 months then repeat.

  4. I definitely agree that the planning is at least half the fun for me. But doing it well leads to a lot of satisfaction when the trip actually happens.

  5. I miss my dog, my bed, and my gym when traveling. My partner too if he’s not with me.

    I’m shocked that you havent posted about the Chase transfer bonus to BA Avios that was just announced!! I just did it and got the points plus the bonus instantly!

    Good post though!

  6. We have always had a dog and I agree that traveling with one can be a challenge and one can miss that loving companion BUT I think talking about your 12 times a day is a bit much while on a trip. To me that is a little obsessive and that is coming from a dog lover and owner since childhood. You seem to do a great job finding someone to care for the loving companion (like we do) so he’s in good hands….and maybe he’s actually happy getting some time away from you two. 😉

  7. For all the great luxury hotels and resorts I’ve stayed at, there’s still no place like home! And I’m always glad to see it after a long trip. One of the things that bothers me the most about travel is the dirtiness of it all. I can make myself sick just thinking about it. Another problem is food, depending on which countries I’m in. Nothing worse than an upset stomach when you’re away from home unless it’s a bad case of the flu. I’ve learned to soldier-on through all the rest of the normal hassles of travel – flight delays and cancellations, bad rental cars, bad hotels and bad weather. The times in the past when I haven’t traveled for long periods, I really, really miss it.

  8. Agree. Literally just got home from two weeks in Singapore and Thailand. Although we had a great time this is about my 9th trip overseas in the last couple of years. The credit card game has been a lot of fun and I got to travel in ways I never dreamed possible ( all biz class with some first class thrown in. Prior to credit cards it in premium economy would have been a stretch for me.) but it has gotten a little bit old. Interestingly enough as I write this I have multiple offers for Delta and American Airlines credit cards. It will be my third round for each. Not sure I’m going to even bother

  9. I also agree that planning and LOOKING FORWARD to a trip are at least as gratifying as the trip itself.
    On the subject of good coffee while traveling: A small company out of Bend, OR called VOILÀ, produces and sells specialty instant coffee that is astonishingly excellent. They source their coffee from a handful of specialty roasters (including Coava, Kuma Coffee, Presta, and others) and sell five sealed packets per box ($15/box). The contents of each packet instantly dissolve in 8-10oz of water at preferred drinking temperature. No need to be without great coffee anywhere, anytime!

  10. Absolutely understand where you’re coming from. My wife and I are now in our early-mid 30s and the things you mentioned absolutely pinpoint what we value too (including fruit and yogurt!). By the way, we now have a 1yr old daughter as well, which amplifies all these points.

    Rather than stop traveling, what we do now is to remain in a place longer and kind of “live” there. Airbnb helps in that regards because often you have access to a washer, fridge, kitchen, etc. So our home schedules are maintained in that regard. Not sure how that would work out for you when it comes to your dear Winston (we used to have a cat but have not had one since she left us). Also, the point of your blog is to review flights and hotels.

    Anyway, this is what we do now to address the points you made. Perhaps you could base yourself somewhere and thoroughly review the aviation and hotel options in these places (e.g. SE Asia, Japan, South America, etc).

  11. *when I said “live there” for a while, I meant a couple of weeks or so before returning home.

  12. The simple things. When you have multiple weeks in a hotel, sometimes you want very simple food; undressed vegetables, bowl of plain pasta, slice of toasted bread. Eating out all the time gets old real fast once after the first week.

  13. Awww…. look at the little doggie!! Cute.

    Moving on: Tell us what you do to combat homesickness when you’re stuck on the road. Anything you need to bring with you to remind you of home?

  14. Yup, being away from my dog and having to put my dog in a home-stay is the toughest part of travel for me. Even knowing that the home-stay is excellent quality and she’ll be well taken care of doesn’t help that much because I know it will still be stressful for her.

  15. “Many studies show that a lot of the enjoyment you derive from travel comes from the planning process, rather than the actual traveling.”

    Ha! Depends which psychology theories you believe.

    If you like Myers-Briggs (based on Jung’s work on personality types), you’ll think that one of the four main axes of personality (probably the most famous of the axes is introversion-extroversion) is about enjoying planning versus enjoying experiencing. It’s a spectrum.

    From your writing I’d be amazed if you weren’t well over at the “enjoys planning” end of the spectrum. Whereas I hate it. It’s a tedious activity that needs to be got through as fast as possible so I can get on with then enjoying stuff.

    So, if you enjoy planning, studies will show that you, er, enjoy planning.

    Dogs, though… One of mine has learnt to read the signs that I’ll be leaving on a trip in a day or so. He then just follows me silently from room to room, standing at a distance and staring at me. It’s heart-breaking. His emotional manipulation skills are absolutely top-notch.

  16. Bed and pillow!! Hotels are hit and miss no matter highly rated the hotel. If the mattress and/or pillow are not right it affects your whole trip.

  17. I travelled for business for many years. Sometimes I was able to add a couple of days for vacation if the place was interesting. (Turkey comes to mind.). As I got older I changed positions at work and I planned my travels.. I must say I agree with posters that love the planning part. I certainly did. So in the last 15 years I have visited over 65 different countries. Though loyalty points and status, I always travelled in business class and stayed at great hotels. Now retired at 76, I live at home and find my desire to travel minimal. Living in a small community in Mexico with idilic weather is like a permanent vacation. My interests are now centered on my life at home with my husband, dog and local expats, and Mexicans

  18. I miss my familiar bathroom faucets. Hotel bathroom faucets and shower heads don’t work the same, turn the same, aim the same, and just figuring out the correct setting for a comfortable temperature setting is usually a challenge.

  19. I know it sounds cliche, but I am a similar age to Lucky and always thought I would also love travel. Especially when I was a student and could sleep anywhere and found the lack of sleep and temperature discomforts amongst other things far less of an issue. I was even happy enough flying long haul economy back then.

    But like you I am also beginning to find it hard while finding more peace and settlement at home. It is hard to say, but I do wonder if the wanderlust starts to fade after many years on the road.

    Especially when we have the personal timeframe we entered to compare it to, the age of the superjumbos Titans that is now fading into the sunset, and a time before the major overtourism movements which have started in many places.

    Not saying this is the case for you Lucky, but many things that I once found exciting and novel when travelling I now often find tiresome and annoying. Including how much busier airports, hotels and air travel is getting as millions more people each year are now travelling.

  20. @Michael that’s awesome. Sounds like something we can all aspire to. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness.

  21. I loved to travel alone where I can go and come as I please. But being married now with a child I still want to travel but it’s a lot different when you have to carry 6 suitcases and can’t find a non-stop flight at a decent hour for a child. But I don’t let it stop me from my next destination. One day, I’ll probably just want to stay home or start driving to our destinations.

  22. I live in Hawaii and travel a great deal for work. So I amass a lot of points, and really enjoy using them to plan exotic, luxury vacations. Lately though, when I’m about to depart for one of these vacations, I find myself at the Honolulu Airport saying to myself “Now, exactly why am I leaving Hawaii?”

    I guess the grass is always greener…

  23. Yep, it’s just called “getting older.” I’m 34 and have cut way back on travel, esp. now that I have an adorable westie and a 9 week old daughter.

    Still, I’m in Japan right now (live in Dallas), with plans to visit Hyatt Coconut Point (got a reservation before the point increase), Andaz Papagayo (ditto) in July, and thinking about a short trip to Oaxaca sometime soon.

  24. I can certainly relate to your feelings for Winston … I would be the same, if I had a dog … but for exactly that reason I don’t have one during this period of my life. I had one as a kid/teenager and I certainly consider having one when work (and travel) gets less.

    But no, I can’t relate to other parts of your story. I don’t sleep well much of the year while at home, because air conditioning is not permitted and therefore temperatures in my bedroom way out of the comfort zone most of the year. Also my bed, although quite expensive, is at the lower end of the comfort scale. Then, work at the office is definitely more hectic than work while travelling. When travelling, about 85% of the corporate non-sense has gone away before I even get back.

    Finally, I more easily meet friends while travelling. When I come to a foreign city, my friends always find some time to catch up over a coffee, a drink, a meal, going to a concert, etc. When travelling, I’m never alone unless I want to be alone. While at home, most of my requests to socialize get declined, because of my friends’ family duties. At home, I’m alone way more often than while travelling.

    So bottom line: I miss travelling rather quickly …

  25. I miss my two basset hounds, despite the fact they are being kept at home to their normal routine. The unbridled joy and OTT excitement I am greeted with as I arrive home is something I look forward to the whole time away!

  26. I’ve been out of country for three weeks and headed back today. As I have gotten older i noticed I start dragging at the 2 1/2 week mark if i am consistently relocating every few days. As you get older all the points you are making will only be magnified. Still if i know in six months i will be dying yo get on another plane.

  27. Oh wow. I missed your post that you had finally hit a wall. I thought you were superhuman. I have been a dog person for over a year now. He is the favorite in the family.

  28. Isn’t it funny how a pet can change you? I’ve always wanted nothing more than to travel and still do … but literally I get anxious over leaving my cats and hurting their feelings. I know it sounds stupid, but a human knows you’re coming back, and a pet doesn’t. I’ve seen my cats crying at the door on my Nest cam when I’m gone, and they act unusually sweet and cuddly when I get home. It’s awful. Every time I just spend more money on a pet sitter!

  29. Crazy as it may seem, I miss my work.
    As they say. “find a job that you love, and you won’t work a day in your life.”
    My dog comes to work with me and is an integral part of the workplace. As he is getting older, you have a sense we are on borrowed time. For all I know, I might be too.
    Blessed with an amazing property for which I love to care, and there is always one more unfinished project.
    But, there is always the next adventure, and it is the expectation, anticipation and trepidation.
    Drives my wife nuts, but I see obstacles as the next adventure and story.
    Thank you, Lucky, and the commentators for sharing.

  30. I miss being away from my parents as I don’t get to see them as frequently as I would like to, given that my home (or more accurately my base) is 16 hours from them.

    When I am home, I am always thinking about my next assignment or next war story or exploring somewhere new or finding a way to get my adrenaline fix. It is certainly difficult in a different way – my girlfriend and I spend a few months a year together at most. The sad part is that I probably miss my work more than I miss her, and she is aware of that. In a way she is also married to her work so we are a good fit for each other.

  31. Most of my adult life has been spent in war zones or in the extreme territories on Earth – the problem is finding new and exciting ways to keep myself feeling alive. Without excitement, I would prefer to be dead…

  32. It’s funny that you wrote this article. My parents were career diplomats for 50 years. They spent most of their life traversing the globe in all sorts of crises. I like to joke that they spent their mid-life crises in actual political and civil crises – Algeria, Israel, Syria, Zaire, Libya, Argentina, Honduras, Timor Leste, South Africa, Somalia, Pakistan, etc etc etc… They have seen a significant portion of the world over their fifty years of travels (160+ countries). Now, in their early 70s, their desire to travel consists of going for a cup of coffee to the neighborhood cafe, taking a stroll in the morning together and visiting me abroad, occasionally. For them, I think it took traveling the world to come home.

  33. The most difficult part: my cat! At the very first sight of a carry-on or suitcase, she knows something is up and starts giving me those sad accusing looks. After I return, she boycotts me for about 30 minutes before signaling first signs of forgiveness.

  34. I dont know. For me, there is only one thing worse than being on the road…and that is NOT being on the road. Dont get me wrong, I always love coming home. Having some place that is mine with my things is … I’m not sure if comforting is the right word, but that seems to be the one that fits. The problem I have is that if I stay at home too long, I will get antsy – to the point that friends, colleagues, and spouse notice. If I take a trip, even for just a weekend, my brain re-calibrates itself and life is much more livable.

  35. You forgot to mention a better BM schedule. When I’m not traveling and at home, my poops are much better; Due to better eating habits and hydration. the constant time zone changes, foods, lack of hydrating , is a great way to get constipated. It’s essential to start my day with a good BM.

  36. Lucky, for coffee you can buy a small portable grinder and an Aeropress. Then, you can carry your favorite coffee beans anywhere you go so that you can enjoy great coffee no matter what 🙂

  37. The hardest things for me are eating differently than normal, and dealing with mold in hotel rooms. I had been doing a 3 week trip each year but now have gone to two 2 week trips. I was trying to optimize since it takes so much time and money to get half way around the world. But 2 weeks is less hard on the body, and I get to plan twice a year 🙂

  38. Great post, as usual.

    Working as a consultant for the past 10 years, I typically don’t have trips longer than 3-4 days, and with my friends and my GF’s friends and family spread across the country and our general interest in travel, I generally sleep in my own bed less than 20% of nights.

    I’m 33 at this point. I don’t get “homesick” and don’t really know what that means. A couple leisure weeks in Europe or Asia? Pfft, I don’t get being sick of that. I’m flying home tonight from a client to leave tomorrow morning for a friend’s birthday in Miami, only to head directly to a client on Monday morning. The only thing I really wish I had with me at all times that I can’t bring is my duvet cover as it’s just amazingly comfortable.

    While I don’t “miss” this, I do wish I could have a dog but with both of us traveling it wouldn’t be fair for the dog. That’s really the only thing I would want to trade for less travel but even then, I’d still want to travel more than most on here.

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