“Home” is where the traveler ain’t. Stop asking.

"When Are You Coming Home," They Asked.

Travelers, backpackers, explorers, and magic bean buyers are tired of going home (read: where they grew up) for holidays and birthdays and weddings and births. Truth is, many of us choose home as a last resort; a place to where we must return because we’ve run out of money and food and somehow our grandmother’s hug will make everything better. Tickets home are usually the same price as tickets to some country we’ve never visited, and we’re stuck, staring at the purchase screen, wondering if we’re making the right decision, choosing our father’s cooking over Vietnamese street meat. In the world, everything is new, fresh, and rarely repeating or stopping. Returning home, to those familiar places, we un-pause the life we left however long ago and watch it all so predictably unfold.

One holiday or some random Wednesday, instead of asking “when are you coming home,” one of my favorite cousins or a sibling will ask, “where are you going to be, and do I need to pack a coat?” I’ll even help buy the ticket if it means I could show them my version of a place that looks nothing like our neighborhood while chewing something smoked, explaining why macaroni and cheese won’t be on our dinner plates.

In Lima, I met an Aussie who hadn’t been home in three years “because the world is too big to keep returning to that place. If my family wants to see me, they’ll ask me where I am, and they’ll come.” He’s right, you know? Instead of buying the tickets home, he purchases cars and drives country to country, picking up hitchhikers, making them family. He’s better for it.

If laying eyes on your traveler’s face every so often is as important to you as your urgency makes it seem, you’d gladly and just as easily go to him or her on the other side of the world. The traveler will make sure you’re better for it.

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People Out There

Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.

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