Stay Home



I am tempted to write a book titled “Stay Home and Save The World” or something to that effect, but I don’t know of any publisher crazy enough to take it on. Our whole culture is completely locked into travel mode and any idea of changing that would have no more success than trying to stop people from drinking beer. We think, live and breathe traveling. So much so, that some 40% of the CO2 we are churning into the environment comes from travel (so I read but I am wary of all numbers). Maybe we could reduce our CO2 emissions to safe levels just by staying home much of the time. But only we ramparts people are going to say that. Cutting travel to a significant degree might bring on another great depression. It’s as if we would give up our utilities before we’d give up extraneous travel.

I really don’t think it would be that difficult. I’d much rather stay home than go traveling and when I read the travel ads in newspapers and magazines, I am all the more convinced. Much of the jolly things the ads promise I have at home. The current Hilton Hotel ad says it all: “Feel At Home In Our Home.” Really? Why not just stay home and save the money.

My favorite travel come-on, from a recent Sunday New York Times, is in an article titled “A Shangri-La Deep In The Cascades,” about a place called Stehehin Valley. It has “great hiking, great lodging, and best of all, no roads in and no roads out.” No roads at all? Why does that sound a bit contradictory to me? Sounds like my acres back along the creek, especially if you include outdoor camping as a form of great lodging, which indeed Stehehin does.

Many of the descriptive words used in travel ads to lure people onto the highway I can find right here at home. “Scenic path.”  “Quiet nooks.” “Romantic gardens.” “Unspoiled view.” “Comfortable and casual.” “Off the beaten path.” Lately, the travel industry is trying to work the popularity of the local food movement into its propaganda, glamorizing local food and art shops as if the spot being advertised is the only place in the world that is local.

And, of course, if there is no other reason to travel to the destination being advertised, there is always history.  Every place in the whole wide world, including the nondescript, humdrum rural township that surrounds me, is “rich in history,” but travelogues pretend that history only happens in very special places that require you to travel hundreds of miles to experience.

Anyone with a decent job can turn a home into a most desirable tourist destination. It takes maybe an acre or two, or more if so inclined, but nothing that a middle class wage earner can’t afford.   Indeed, the built-in “profit” of a little cottage farm comes from all the life you can enjoy on it without spending much money gushing out carbon on highways or airways. You can have your own farm pond for all kinds of water sports and pastimes, your own hunting, your own nature-watching, your own skiing and sledding if you have a hill on your property, your own setting for great art and photography, your own Eden-like gardens,  your own wood for home heating and woodworking, your own exercise center splitting that wood into usable stove-lengths,  your own scenic paths for hiking, your own delicious, fresh, artisanal, local food and drink if not at home then in a restaurant nearby, your own history to fascinate you. You will have so much fun-work to do that eventually you will not have time to travel. You can reach the point, as I did,  where you can use your homework as a legitimate excuse, like at lambing time, for not to go to public functions you don’t want to attend or not to give speeches you don’t want to give.

Here’s the strange contradiction about all this. Many of the people who build a really fantastic house on a really fantastic piece of ground and make of it a natural paradise complete with tennis court, swimming pool, library, huge flat screen television, immediate electronic contact with the entire earth, elaborate equipment for listening to music, — these are the people who travel the most.

Yes, seeing something in person is surely better than looking at pictures of it and, yes, travel can broaden the mind and all that. I have arguments to counter those truisms but never mind, I know when I am the minority.  But I bet anything that those of us who like to stay home are more content and maybe even healthier. And now they’ve got these gadgets you can put over your head and electronically view faraway places almost as if you were there. Without getting caught in a traffic jam or on a runway.


I’m on vacation right now in the Caribbean and I think I’ve finally learned my lesson this time – problem is the wife likes to travel but she’d prefer to take trains through Europe which is 10 times worse. I’ve been sitting in the condo all day searching the internet for things like “I hate traveling” and wound up here. One more night and I get to leave this place – but not before returning the rental car, cleaning the condo, and then facing a wonderful day of flying.
I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a vacation since I was a little kid.

I’ve disagreed with you before and here I am (belatedly due to being out of the country) disagreeing with you again. Staying home is the best, yes, but I definitely would not feel that way if I lived in a city. Been there, done that and couldn’t wait to leave. However travel does not need to be high carbon, in fact the type of travel that gets advertised is definitely high carbon and similar to life close to home – that’s why they have to advertise! But spending multiple days on foot or in a canoe with indigenous peoples is NOT high carbon, and is eye-opening and inspiring. It’s amazing what people who don’t have our government’s regulations can come up with to enhance their lives, even though OSHA would have a fit.
I double agree that young people in particular need to travel. It’s done in many animal families and I think it should be done in ours as well.
Love all your work, have almost all of your books. Will never agree on no travel!

I have that shirt. My uncle is the mayor of Tiro, OH. Even many small towners with their own slice of heaven still burn the roads up more than I care to. Just because you have something doesn’t mean you are satisfied.

I agree! My husband and I just got back from an 8-day trip to my hometown to help celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. It’s not her fault that my husband and I found our little piece of heaven in Idaho which is a solid two-day drive (at our age, anyway!) from my hometown in South Dakota. Still, it’s a trip we don’t make often because, frankly, we love where we live. If only we could convince all of my family to join us in Idaho!

I agree Betty, about encouraging the younger generation to travel. Whilst in America I met many who may have travelled physically, but never really experienced travel properly by going on a journey with adventures. Those who had travelled properly and really got to know other places, for instance by spending more than one or two days on those infernal American tours of Europe in two weeks type of thing, perhaps by working in a place, have a broader and richer appreciation of the world they live in and a more open mind to alternative ways of doing things. I know you don’t have to travel to do that, but it often helps.

Yea I think the important thing in life and key to being happy and content is to make ones home a place to want to go to not a place to get away from.Once that happens we become much more productive ‘work’ becomes a desired exercise to look forward to every day.At least it did for me.

When I was young I rambled quite a bit, but I was a people watcher and not a tourist. When I went to Paris I used the Eiffel Tower as a navigation point, never did make it to the tower, though. I eventually came to the conclusion that people are pretty much the same once you get to know them. I did learn why Americans tend to be disliked by people in other countries: Americans I met in other countries tended toward being rich, obnoxious jerks who wore clothing that informed everyone where they had been. I succumbed to this malady a couple years ago and bought a T-shirt that said “I went to the Tiro Testicle Festival and had a ball!”.

Nowadays, I can visit most of my friends on my recumbent three wheeler. Think globally, bike locally.

I share your experiences and opinions, Gene. But–like you–I arrived “here” after moving hither and yon. Ezra Pound has something to say about this in “Commission.” There are plenty of people–perhaps not rich wastrels–for whom home means “bound.”

Martha, people laughed at Shirley Conran when she said she would rather lie on a couch than sweep under it (her book “Superwoman), but her point was, you have to be efficient if you’re going to be lazy. I operate on the principle that what’s alive is more important than what’s not. So I focus on the people, the garden and the animals — housework can always wait. Otherwise, I try to be as efficient as I can, and when I work, I work hard and fast. I also find that a home that is neat looks cleaner even if it does have cobwebs in the corners, so if you keep things straightened up, you can get away with minimal cleaning. Another book, “Speed Cleaning,” helped me develop a system that makes it much easier and faster to clean, so I can spend my time in the garden or communing with the sheep, horses, cows or pigs — I highly recommend it!
Gene, I’m with you; I have everything I need right here and hate to go to town (well, maybe chocolate and coffee, but I could order those online if I had to!). One of the best things about leaving the corporate world behind was that I no longer needed to travel.

Oh how I love to read the responses to this blog!! Caterina, I too feel like I’m “camping out” every night and have no need of doing so anymore. I slept on my screened porch last night, heard three different types of owls, coyotes, and a host of insects. Besides that I slept under the stars!

Eric B, I personally don’t get the peeing outside thing but I know it’s a biggy with you guys-my Steve peed outside for the last time before he died–held up on the back porch by two of his buddies. It WAS a sacred thing–LOL!

Wife of Dave, it’s a process! There will always be something that needs to be done on a homestead. That is a blessing for some and a curse for others. My mantra is “little by little.” Enjoy the journey, the work will always be there. Don’t worry about what others think of how things look or how much you’ve accomplished. If you are working so hard that you never look up to see and appreciate what you have, how is that different from working a city job for someone else?

Your last line made me laugh, my husband says he never wants to live where he can’t pee out side when he feels like it.

My wife often expresses her desire to visit some far away place like Tuscany to experience the renowned native cuisine and culture. I remind her that neither those Italians nor their famous food would be all that interesting if they spent as much of their lives trying to ‘get away’ from their homebound routines as we Americans generally do.

The more I think of this post, the more I like it.

A problem, I suspect, is that starting at some point i the last 30 or so years, we as a society became so focused on success as meaning money that we’ve created an entire generation, or really two or three generations, that’s completely rootless. People move to go to college, move from there to enter a career, move during their careers, and when they finally retire, they move somewhere else. In the process they never really live anywhere, and don’t have the attachments that would normally exist to any one place. That’s bad for all places in the end.

Great topic! I love home, and am learning day by day to love it more, but chores staring me in the face make home not always a relaxing place to be. Stuff gets dirty, and I would rather walk in the woods and read a book than clean. Any advice on making chores interesting and satisfying, so I don’t want to leave my lovely home to avoid them?
Martha, Dave’s wife

Hopefully we all find where we want to be eventually. Usually it comes with age that we stop panicking about what we are missing out on and enjoy where we are. Still working on it!
My dad is there well and truly.

I’m with you. “East or West, home is best!” But then, we’re blessed to have a pretty nice place!

I think whether “we can all be in Ohio” misses the point, namely that as many middle class wage earners as want to can choose between thousands of 1-2 acre Ohio potential homesteads (with lots of other options besides Ohio, too), many for under $100,000. I paid about as much for my 43 acre farm with a house, good-sized barn, and 6 other buildings as my brother paid about the same time for just a slightly larger house on one-tenth of an acre in an average suburb of a major city, and as if that weren’t a bad enough deal he has to pee inside his house.

V, I suspect you’re describing the burden left on you by choices made mostly by previous generations. To the extent that that’s true, it’s probably also true that you can lighten those burdens for younger generations.

Travel to me is much like money, sex, liquor and guilt among other things. It is a terrible master but a wonderful servant. I guess I am somewhat predisposed to be curious about what lies around the curve in the road even when I find great contentment in home. One of the most magical nights of my life was spent lying on a blanket at the top of a sand dune near Lake Michigan watching the Perseid meteor shower with my wife and four children. We spent $320 (including gas in 1991) on a six day camping trip for a family of six. My return on investment is immeasurable. Sorry about the CO2 but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I do agree with your larger point about the pleasures of home and the infinite fascinations that surround us every day.

Despite your disclaimer about statistics, I still have to say that your 40% estimate is pretty far off. Transportation, which includes moving people and goods, is responsible for about 30% of CO2 emissions. Leisure travel would only be a small portion of that.

I also have to disagree that a middle class wage earner could afford and acre or two. That depends where you live. We can’t all be in Ohio! If you have a job in a major east coast city, you will be very hard pressed to find that much land for less than $500,000 – unless you want spend 3 or 4 hours a day commuting (and producing CO2).

Lots of us living in the burbs don’t have the luxury of “walking the property”. Would love to but the price per acre here in SE Michigna is crazy!

I could not agree more! When I tell people that I prefer to stay at home because i am doing
my part by not contributing to the CO2 levels they look at my like I am crazy and say, “What,
are you kidding me?” The rub is that maybe only people who live in the country feel that way. One needs to be living in a pretty place, I think, to feel that way. When we bought our
“little farm in the country” 13 years ago we stopped going camping altogether. We see no reason to sleep on the ground in a pretty place when we sleep in total comfort and sweet quiet every night in a beautiful place. We hear coyotes, the waterfall and the river and sometimes owls, crows, mourning doves and magpies. Not all at night, of course. Then our roosters wake us up and we are glad and grateful, therefore content. We know we are lucky.

home keeping youth have ever homely wits

We did a lot of traveling before we bought our farm. Now we don’t travel at all. Because the places we went to were just like where we are now living. Our lives have become a permanent vacation 😀

I totally agree, but I live with people with a different attitude and I somewhat get where they are coming from so we compromise. I grew up as a Navy brat, moving every 2 to 4 years in and out of the US and traveling around seeing the different places where we lived. I think it’s useful and educational to see other places and get to know them and the differences, but I don’t feel the need for it any more.

My kids and husband feel differently so I make the effort to help plan and go on a week- long trip somewhere away from home each year, even though it stresses me out being away from home and my critters. I finally have what I want at home – a small farm with sheep/chickens/dogs/gardens, etc. and everything I enjoy doing is all there. So when I go away, I just have to pack a bunch of knitting/crocheting projects and books to occupy myself during my family’s down times and do my best to keep us all moving. I suppose I drive them a bit nuts, because I think when you are on vacation, you need to have a plan and go about seeing/experiencing a new place, not just “relaxing.” I could relax at home, if I wanted to!

Just met some great traveling people walking through my little village of Lindsey, OH. They were doing the Great Walk For Climate Change from L.A. to New York for the March. They started out last March and will end Nov. 1. Not much carbon expended by those interesting folks. A couple of the kids even foraged for lunch out of my pallet garden. More “power” to them!

If I didn’t have the following family members, I’d stay home a lot more:
Sister 1,000 miles away
Sister 2,000 miles away
Grandmother 500 miles away
Grandmother 3,000 miles away
Grandmother-in-law 2,000 miles away
Numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws 800-3,000 miles away

I’m reminded of the World War Two Poster which urged people to stay home with a “Me Travel? Not This Summer!” line. Not a bad poster, and frankly a lot of times I’d rather stay home myself.

I linked that into an old blog post of mine on vacations:

Yes, whenever I travel anywhere else, it makes me all the more appreciative of what I have right here! I hate to drive into town much less across the country. You make some great points, but I have to respectfully disagree with you this time, Gene, in that I think that the younger folks should travel as much as they are able to! They still need to make the journey, have the adventures, and learn the lessons that later allow them to return home to their true selves.

Lots of rich folks around me with mansions that they aren’t in much some work all the time to make the payment other just travel wherever.I love to stay home in my humble abode with my animals,gardens,farm and various projects.Reminds me of a few years ago during the Grt Recession a fellow from Florida called a couple times to sell me a trip to Disney World for
$99 finally I told him he was really wasting his time because if it really came down to it and I had to, I’d pay him the $99 to stay home.Think he took me off his list(LOL)

Love this breathe of fresh air! I have always hated traveling, and I never travel. One time, during the holidays (actually right before, so I miss the traffic jams), do I travel each year. The rest of the year I stay within 10 miles of my home, no joke.

Excessive traveling goes hand in hand with our instantly gratified, multi-tasking society. Unless you are talking on your phone, tweeting, facebooking, watching some stupid TV show and traveling to some place far away, all at the same time, you are WEIRD! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

Part of the problem is that few have the ability to entertain themselves. When I walk out the door, I want to pick up the pruning shears or hoe or other implement for a “quick lick” at whatever needs tending to. Most children, however, walk out on a similar landscape and have no idea what to do. They’re bored. Unless they are “going somewhere” or spending money, it’s not worth doing.

Satisfaction in life does not come with having what you want, but with wanting what you have.

If you’re a minority, Gene, I’m right there with you. I’d rather stay home any day.

People are desperate to “vacate” where they call home to go to somewhere exotic. How fortunate those of us are who don’t need to go on vacation because where we live is where we want to be…

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