"Home" is a pretty simple concept for most people. If you grow up in one place, live there, settle there, all your friends and family are there, your possessions are there, and your life is there... that's your home. Pretty straightforward.
This starts to fail for travelers. If you spend 1/4th of the year in London and 3/4ths in Alabama, but you love London, your closest friends are there, etc... which is your home?
Trickier question. But the answer, still, is some mix of Alabama and/or London.
Now, what happens when your friends and family are spread across the world and you constantly move around, and you don't have home or hard ties anywhere? MUCH harder question to answer.
That was where I was a couple years ago. Strong connections to a half dozen cities, hard ties in none of them, and so on.
But I still had one thing to call "home" - it's where my suitcase with all my stuff was. I had my clothes, my vitamins, some notebooks with writing and sketches in them, and so on. This pile of stuff became home. When my luggage was in a serviced apartment in District 1 of Saigon, that's where "home" was at the moment. When I went on a two day trip to Mui Ne with a light travel bag, "home" was still D1 Saigon, I was just detouring to Mui Ne.
Lately it's gotten more confusing. The room I rent in Beijing is 20 minutes from my office, but I often sleep at the office if I put in late nights. Further confusing things, I've got some real estate nearby where I put up my guests that are in town, and I can shower/shave/crash there when it's free, as well as a couple friends who have spare rooms with air mattresses.
There's 4-5 places I sleep with some regularity, all within a short range. It was confusing because it's not clear where "home" is, and sometimes I'll forget where my vitamins are, where my toothbrush was, and so on. The "home-as-place-with-ties" model already disintegrated from me years ago since I had too many emotionally connected places. But now even the "physical home" was starting to disintegrate as a cohesive mental concept. It was setting me back...
...and I've got it now.
None of those possessions are particularly special. I had previously put them together haphazardly - vitamin C, fish oil, Piracetam, socks, boots, workout clothing, paper notebooks, computer, toothbrush and floss and toothpaste, shirts, pants, jacket, hat, gloves.
I'm realizing I can systematize this - make a list and places to procure all of these things. Can get my computer sync'ed so I don't even need it, and then there'll only be a few basic things I need to carry with me - driver's license, credit cards, passport.
The rest? I can systematize those. Have a tailor with my measurements so I can order new shirts, pants, suits, ties, jackets easily. Have a couple brands I wear for casual clothing, have those written down. Have written down suppliers for the vitamins, supplements, performance enhancing drugs I take. Have a few acceptable choices for toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. Socks.
And... then I'm free from material possessions, and the concept of "home" disintegrates. "Home" is just a staging ground for doing cool stuff, and possessions are just tools to do some cool stuff. By systematizing it onto a list that my assistant could assemble rapidly anywhere, I could hop on a plane on a spur of the moment and have all my "home stuff" catch up to me in a couple days via FedEx.
The first step? I'm stocking everywhere I stay sometimes with some clothing, medicines, toiletries, and other basics. It doesn't even cost much. My tailor is great and surprisingly inexpensive - going to have them make between 20 and 30 versions of everything I wear regularly, and I'll buy a few small suitcases so I can have a "home on the go" kit everywhere. Will need to figure out basic supply chains for ordering everything else I use regularly, but the idea of provisioning any room I use even occasionally in order to save a few hours per week... it's cool, isn't it? If I have kits like this, I can randomly grab a hotel room in the far end of the city to save 2 hours of travel time, if I'm delivering massive value per hour it becomes a good trade. When we open a Shanghai office, I can just send a bag of stuff ahead of me, and be all "set up" as soon as I arrive with just a briefcase.
The cost? It's really not that much. Low hundreds per setup. It's just too far outside of most people's thinking, but it's the next step for me. Possessions are nonsense, they're only useful insofar as they allow us to do cool stuff.
Very interesting post. When I was living in my RV I had similar feelings. I wouldn't cook in there a lot. Most of the time I'd make breakfast in the office two hours before people got there, then go shower at my gym about 5 mins away. I'd only come "home" to the RV to sleep. On the days I wasn't working into crazy hours of the night, I'd hang out in a coffee shop a block away from where I parked most of the time to catch up on email, write, etc. for the electrical outlets. I wound up leaving a tooth brush and dress shirts at the office so I didn't have to fuss with them when I got up in the morning.
The tailor made clothes sound like a good option. Since you're in Beijing, I hear that Shanghai has incredibly cheap tailor made suits.
Also, watch out for the air pollution there, which apparently just which literally off the charts.
I have two "homebases"
One in Stockholm, Sweden and another one in Boston, MA.
Most of the remaining physical possessions I have are in a storage unit in MA.
And it's not much. Basically clothes, books, CD's, and such.
I am trying to get rid of more and more of it, and convert physical stuff to digital as much as possible.
I basically have a minimalist identical setup in these two countries, including clothes.
Wow. I'm not quite there yet....but give me a few years.
Currently when people ask where I'm from, I just say America.
Most of my life has been spent in Chicagoland. My mail gets sent to a virtual mail service in California. My drivers license says Florida. I've been in Boston since May. I'm currently living in a hotel in Connecticut. The bulk of my physical possessions are in a storage unit in Massachusetts.
This is from Era One, a 23 page writeup of my last year of travels, with some included lessons. I'm going to have a few excerpts of Era One this week, alongside our regularly schedule programming. You can download your free copy of Era One here - Era One - Download PDF
Spending – How Much Does it Cost to Travel?
I get this question a lot. People wonder how I can travel and hop around the world when I’m not working?
The truth is, it’s cheaper to spend a few months in a developing country than it is to stay in a city in the Western world. The expensive part is getting there – airfare. But after around three months, airfare+expenses becomes cheaper than staying home. Cheaper rent and much cheaper food.
I’ve got some friends here and there, so I might stay with friends for a while and get them gifts or take them out in lieu of getting my own place, but even renting a place can be done cheap. Like I said, I was paying $12/night in Seoul to stay in a jimjilbang. Now, if you lived in Seoul, you wouldn’t want to stay in a jimjilbang all the time. But for a month, paying $360 to stay at a place with a gym, sauna, pools of water/minerals, sleeping areas, restaurants, snack stands, and more – it’s a fantastic deal. Yes, I didn’t have my own space there. Yes, I had to check out during the day. Yes, there’s some hassle involved. Yes, it’s not always good sleeping. But $360, man. For a month. And that includes the hot rooms, cold rooms, the various mineral and herb baths, and all the weights and cardio I want. Fantastic.
In this article I will be sharing my techniques to save you time and enable you to be more spontaneous.
Setting yourself up initially will require an investment of several hours, but the rewards make it well worth it. These rewards include greater freedom to do what you want when you want to do it, adding hours to your life each week by eliminating the time and effort that you'd otherwise spend preparing on the spot, a sense of security knowing that you will rarely be caught unprepared, and a sense of gratification and pride when you have the tools you need on hand for an array of opportunities.