Confession: I Don’t Miss Home (That Much)

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Well, I finally did it.  I booked a ticket home. I fly from London to New York City on May 11, and I will take the bus to Boston a few days after that.

After nearly six months on the road, I’ve fallen in love with my new vagabonding life — a life rich in time and possibilities, a life lived in a place that makes me happy.

The big confession?

I still don’t miss home.

I feel horrible, but I don’t even miss it a little bit.  As my homecoming date approaches, I find myself looking forward to seeing my family and friends — but that’s about it.  I’d much prefer they come here.

Is there anything I’m supposed to be missing? Sure, I occasionally desire attentive restaurant service or deodorant that doesn’t bleach your armpits, but beyond that?

I turned, as I often do, to my fellow travel bloggers to find the answers.  Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Poi from No Place to Be misses lots of British condiments. Brown sauce and the like.  I will restrain myself from making a joke about British food, and say that while I’d love to eat yellow mustard with a spoon, I actually spent one late night in Sihanoukville doing exactly that.  (My Dutch friend was impressed.  “THIS GIRL WATCHES FOOTBALL AND EATS PLAIN MUSTARD OUT OF A CAN!“)

Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel misses the seasons. Considering that Boston had one of its worst winters this year, and has been frozen for the past six months, I don’t miss the seasons of home whatsoever!!  I’ve always been a summer girl, and it’s been heaven having it year-round, save a chilly ten days in northern Vietnam.

The Globetrotter Girls miss doing their own laundry. I’m actually pleased with the work the laundry ladies do around here, and for so cheap!   I usually spend around a dollar, whereas it cost me $3.50 per load in my apartment in Boston.  Plus detergent.  Plus dryer sheets.  And I had to do it myself.  If the machine were functioning that day.

Nomadic Matt misses Taco Bell. Actually, I can get behind that one.  I know it’s made of rat intestines and God knows what else, but TACO BELL IS SO DAMN GOOD.

Actually, yes.  I do miss food. Not enough to make me wish I was home in America, but I do get the occasional hunger pang for the following items:

Mexican food more than anything else.  I’m crazy about Mexican food, and you can’t find anything good outside North America.

Italian food. Though I’ve been to a few good Italian places here (Cosmo’s in Koh Phi Phi, Da Fernando in Nha Trang, La Taverna in Mui Ne), I miss my mom’s Italian food in particular.

CHEESE. Fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, extra sharp cheddar infused with horseradish, crumbly chunks of feta eaten with a spoon, an offensively stinky slice of roquefort…

And my favorite foods from Boston. The hot lobster roll with butter and Katama Bay oysters from Neptune Oyster, pizza from Santarpio’s, giant steak burritos from the Herrera’s street cart in Downtown Crossing, cheesecake and cannolis from Modern Pastry, clam chowdah from Legal Sea Foods, my favorite grilled cheese and avocado on multi-grain bread from The Otherside Cafe

I don’t want this post to make me sound like a snob who thinks that America is so passe and the rest of the world does it so much better.  That’s not true at all.

Come to think of it, there are a lot of things I miss about home — fast WiFi, watching SNL on Hulu, good makeup and skincare products, 24-hour stores, cheap and palatable red wine, not having to carry around toilet paper everywhere…

But I can live easily without any of those things.

I guess I know what this means.  In so many respects, life in Southeast Asia is preferable to life in Massachusetts — far more so than I expected.  In terms of weather, lifestyle, and cost of living, Southeast Asia, frankly, destroys Massachusetts.

But that’s another post for another time.

For now, know this: Happiness does not come from everyday conveniences.  Happiness comes from living the life of your dreams.

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37 thoughts on “Confession: I Don’t Miss Home (That Much)”

  1. Ha! Funny you mention Mexican food. Since I started travelling (when you were a wee lass, my dear), I’ve made it a point to seek out local Mexican food wherever I go. I’ve had it all over Europe, Middle East, parts of South America, and yes, even Hong Kong! The worst – Czech Republic. I’ve heard there’s Mexican on both Bali and Gili T..can’t wait. If I thought about a Mexican-girl-samples-global-Mexican-food blog, I would’ve done it. But I’m not that clever.

    And I agree about Cosmos on Phi Phi. I had fantastic risotto there..washed down with a Corona!

  2. I agree Kate, I never miss home when im away infact wherever i am im normally thinking of the next place i want to be not where i want to go back to!!

    Of course I miss family and friends and perhaps family get togethers and events but other than that im probably most suited to a life on the road!

  3. I think, I have to tell the truth: I’ve been here in Peru for 5 months now, and for the last few weeks I keep on telling my boyfriend (He’s Peruvian) about how I miss my mom and my friends in Indonesia so much, shortly I said: I wanna go home soon!!

    But then I realize things that I wont find home: The challenge to become the real independent woman (many people told me that I’m spoiled) by make my own living, spanish speaking friends with whom I learn a lot about Spanish language (In Indonesia it’s gonna cost me a lot for this), the ability to see South America and it’s adventure challenges, and more than that: Living my life just exactly like how I want it to be, the absolute freedom!

    My friends told me once, “Maybe you’re running away from reality, that’s what you’re doing now there in Peru.” But for me, it’s not running away from reality, it’s running away from the life that people wants me to be.

    I love your post. Many thanks. It’s like another support for me to believe: Happiness comes from living the life of your dreams.

    Thanks, Kate! 🙂

  4. Man, I hope I feel this way. I’m leaving in a few months and though I’ve left for 3+ month stretches, its nothing like the year I’m planning for now. l’m with you on one thing: I always miss family and friends of course, but there’s nothing like FOOD CRAVINGS! I’m an incredibly picky eater and the amount of time I spend abroad fantasizing about brooklyn style pizza, bruegger’s bagels and chipotle is kind of criminal.

  5. oh I miss Taco Bell too! but…
    ” I’m crazy about Mexican food, and you can’t find anything good outside North America.” –> is it also better than Mexican food in Mexico?

    “good makeup and skincare products” –> did you look in the high-end shopping malls / stores in SE Asia?

    “Happiness does not come from everyday conveniences. Happiness comes from living the life of your dreams.” –> can’t agree more!

    1. Haha! Mexico is part of North America, which is what I meant. And yes, you can find good makeup and skincare products at the high-end malls…but I miss being able to walk into CVS and there being a million kinds of cheap mascara and eyeshadow! Plus, you’re out of luck in places like Laos and Cambodia.

  6. Kate, I hear you about the cheese! The only remotely decent thing you can get here in Korea is a MONSTER BLOCK from Cost-Co for around $11…I destroyed it and pretty much ate it as if it were a candy bar. My friends were amazed that I didn’t completely screw up my digestive system…OK, TMI.

    Other than food though, I’m the same as you…I miss my family and friends, but that’s about it. Everything is so much more efficient here compared to the UK, I feel a lot safer, and the cost of living is so much less. Plus, there’s actually a reliable summer each year – it often seems to bypass my homeland…”remember those 3 days when it was 25C in late June…yeah that was summer.” None of that here!

    Great post as always ^^ Now pass the cheddar…

    1. Agreed.

      The lack of cheese in Korea hurts my heart.

      But in the end, it’s not so much the gouda or the marble that I miss. It’s more those moments that you don’t even know are happening until they have completely passed and you only catch wind of them through updates from pals. Oh, and the concerts! I feel like every single one of my favourite bands has chosen to tour right now and have conveniently left SE Asia off the list completely.


  7. When I studied abroad, the few American students at my school would get together and try to tell the other 75 international students about Taco Bell. We couldn’t adequately describe the sheer satisfaction that would come from eating some T-Bell at that exact moment. The day after I got home, after 6 months in France, I had a Taco Bell feast.

    They just don’t know what they’re missing!

  8. I had a sneaking suspicion that you would fall in love with the vagabonding life! It just seems to suit you, Kate.

    I know what you mean, though. When I was living in New Zealand, sure I missed PEOPLE at home. But Ohio? Nope, didn’t really miss Ohio at all.

  9. Agreed. WHOLEHEARTEDLY!! Friends and family are the things I miss… I can find the foods I want elsewhere.

    But dude… Modern Pastry?!?!? YES! That you cannot find anywhere else.

  10. Granted, Australia is pretty similar to America, but I honestly don’t miss much about home other than my family and friends…and like you, I’d much rather they just come see me!

  11. Amen on the cheese and the taco bell! Mike thinks I’m gross but I freaking love me some taco bell, particularly around 2am. and I’m having fantasies about macaroni and cheese….

    It’s funny, I miss home more than I expected to, and at this point 8 months into my trip I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, going to my fave bars with my buddies and cuddling with my cat in probably about 2 months. I miss the easiness of home and the comfort of familiarity. However, I think that part of the reason I can so look forward to going home is I know it will only be for a handful of months, 4 tops and then I have plans to be off again. That makes the whole coming back thing a bit easier to swallow.

  12. I don’t know where you’re flying through from SE Asia to London, but if its KL you should know about this little Mexican place. In the KLCC Suria shopping mall’s food court, the floor under the cinema, there’s this place called Popilla. They even had that fake nacho cheese! It reminded me of nothing so much as TBell after so long without it.

    Or, if you happen to be going through Dubai at some point, there’s a proper Taco Bell in the Mall of Dubai.

    Isn’t it funny, the particularly strange cravings you develop after a while?

  13. Mate the cheese in Thailand is sooooo good! 🙂 Plus, you have 24 hour stores -hello, 7-11! Also, you can watch Hulu with HotSpot shield – check it out and thank @Foxnomad for the tip!

    Will be excited to see where your journey leads you next. Enjoy your last month on the road! x

  14. Cheese…and any dairy product, especially milk that’s not UHT. One thing I find comfort in is that Chinese food tastes the same here in Spain as it does in Wisconsin. Good thing? Bad thing? Not sure.

    However, I know that once (if?) I go back, I’ll be craving tortila, paella, and jamón serrano more than I’m craving Taco Bell now.

  15. Jesus Christ, do I miss Hulu. I even paid for their Hulu+ thinking that could get it to me outside the US. NOPE. They were very good about refunding and apologizing in a personal email to me though.

  16. Home and the things that you miss (and sometimes don’t miss) can be a strange sensation. I often miss the people at home, but I don’t necessarily identify with the place I grew up as much as I do with the act of traveling. I found this worrying until I read some of Paul Theroux’s work. I do frequently miss a good hamburger, though.

  17. Since we’ve been housesitting for the last few weeks and had to do our own laundry again, I have to say that I didn’t miss it as much as I thought 😉 But at least I get everything back that I throw in the washer, and my favorite pants don’t get ruined…

    Totally with you on the TACO BELL!! And I am not even from America.. but it’s just too good. And cheese – on our list as well, especially European ones. Have a cheese feast next week in England 🙂 .. and a Crunchwrap Supreme for me when you’re back in the States!

  18. I think you miss home a little bit but I guess your time has just be so fun you really hate leaving. There is nothing wrong with that though. One you get home there are going to be things you remember how much you enjoyed having even though you may be able to LIVE WITHOUT.

  19. I wonder if missing home more is a question of time. After all, six months is quite a while, but not that long in terms of expat living. I honestly don’t mean anything bad by it… far from it! But I wonder if you’d feel differently if you didn’t have a set date of moving back home.

    Or maybe it has nothing to do with time at all and is more a state of mind. I’ve been gone from Germany, my home country, for almost eight years (and living there and in other places intermittedly since probably 12 years). I visit at least once a year. And I do miss it sometimes, but mainly I miss friends and family. That makes me wish I lived a little closer sometimes… but then again. I kind of like my life in Texas as well and am hesitant to give it up so easily.

  20. What is it about food that actually makes us homesick? I lived abroad a year and to be honest, the first thing I missed about home is the authentic food. Not so my family and friends since I still have contact with them. As for food, it’s irreplaceable.

    Are we drawn back home by food, as turtles are driven back to their hatching spot?

  21. Hey I forgot to say in my first comment, you should have an NYC meetup! You must have tons of readers here! And since I’ll be following your path in reverse order (London then back to SEA) I’m going to be reading diligently until I leave on June 7th!

  22. Interesting writing, Kate. I have to agree you are adventurous. Despite having traveled a lot around the region since I moved here over 20 years ago, I don’t think that I could ever be on the road for six months. Love the talk about Taco Bell. I took my Indonesian wife to the States many years ago and we ate a Taco Bell in Chicago. She was so crazy about the food that she makes her own tortillas here in Bali and we have “Taco Bell” night twice a month. Globalization.

  23. ” In terms of weather, lifestyle, and cost of living, Southeast Asia, frankly, destroys Massachusetts.”

    Well, DUH – it’s MASSACHUSETTS!!! You gotta try living in a state outside of New England! Come to one of the southern most states – east coast to west coast – and I’ll be they also beat MA in weather, lifestyle and COL.

  24. Hey Kate! I just wanted to thank you for writing this article. I’ve been living in Australia for the past 7 months and I’m enjoying my time away from New York. It’s nice to read that a fellow American felt the same. I do miss the food as well 🙂 I just want you to know that although your blog post is over 3 years old…it’s still helping many people out there (including me). Hope you’re still living the life of your dreams! xoxo

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