Colin brushing his teeth in an airplane bathroom


Sometimes it’s the little things that make your day.

One milestone that I look forward to in every relationship that I have while traveling is the moment when the girl I’m seeing realizes she’s dating a homeless person. Maybe that’s kind of a strange moment to treasure, but it’s not the moment itself that I enjoy, but rather the extreme contrast between reality and literality that brings a smile to my face.

Technically, yes, I am homeless. I don’t have an apartment or house. I don’t have a mortgage or pay rent on a regular basis. I don’t own any furniture or have space that I can call my own.

I don’t have a trampoline or a Roomba.

But although ‘homeless’ might be the label that literally applies to me, the reality of my situation is much less straight-forward. Sure, I don’t have a home in the traditional sense, but in practice, I have many homes.

At the moment, I’m staying with my parents in Columbia, Missouri. This is one place that I can come and relax and enjoy my family’s company. I don’t own it, and the space I’m occupying isn’t mine, but it’s available for me to make use of.

While I was living in Argentina, part of the time I was renting an apartment, and the latter portion of my stay, I was crashing with my good friend Carlos. Two more types of home, two more types of haven with varying degrees of responsibility, ownership and freedom.

Last summer, Ash, Andi and I took a roadtrip across the United States, and every night we found ourselves staying with a different person or group of people, sometimes having full rooms or basements at our disposal, other times having our ‘personal space’ limited to the couch or a spot on the floor. On one occasion, a friendly local rented us hotel rooms.

At one point about a year ago, I had 18 hours to kill at the airport in Sydney, and a quiet, cold, rainy bench in a corner of the observation balcony started to look like nothing less than home to me. I dropped my stuff, bundled up in my jacket and hunkered down comfortably in a way that you only do when you’re back home.

Since I started traveling full-time a few years ago, my definition of ‘home’ has changed dramatically, and as a result I’m much more able to hop from place-to-place without that traditional bane of the vagabond: homesickness.

When you think of being untethered as ‘homefulness’ rather than ‘homelessness,’ the world opens up to you and all kinds of adventures and knowledge and relationships become accessible.

Then again, try explaining that to the girl you’re dating’s parents…