Finding a Home Base as a Long Term Traveler

We’ve been on the road since January. The longest we’ve stayed in any one place is the month we spent with family in Ireland. Even then, we made several short trips around County Clare and County Kerry requiring us to pack up and move. Ten months on the road left us exhausted. Our heads are spinning. Our bodies tired. A few months ago we realized it was about time to start the process of finding a home base. We just didn’t know where to start.

Recently, I was listening to my friend Sherry Ott of Ott’s World Travel on the Extra Pack of Peanuts podcast, hosted by another blogger friend, Travis Sherry. The purpose of the podcast was to talk about career breaks. I wasn’t all that interested in the career break part. Been there, done that. I just like Sherry, and enjoyed listening to her friendly, positive voice while on the treadmill.

But, at one point, the conversation turned to a topic that comes up anytime we chat with full time travel bloggers, who are on the road the whole time – finding a home base.

Looking for Inspiration to Help in Finding a Home Base

Finding a Home Base
Can this be our home base?

I love when I listen to a podcast and feel a connection to the topic. The very first Extra Pack of Peanuts podcast I listened to was an episode where Travis, and his wife Heather, talked about being a couple on the road, something I can certainly sympathize with. They also talked about the major disagreement they had when in Bali last year about whether to leave Bali, someplace they assumed was paradise. Sound familiar? It also happened that we met Travis and Heather in Bali, when we were excising our own Bali demons, and were on the way out. I just immediately clicked with the podcast.

When Sherry and Travis started talking about finding a home base while traveling, I was intrigued. And, inspired. We actually talked about this topic with Sherry when we were all traveling in Catalunya earlier this year. Sherry is now on her 10th year on the road, full time, with nothing more than a storage unit in New York City. Her life exhausts even me.

At the end of the podcast, my mind was racing. Travis made it seem so easy to find a home base, as he and Heather have done in Pennsylvania. But, we’ve been talking about this for a full ten months, and it didn’t seem so easy to us.

The problem is: no place seems perfect for a home, or even a home base. Living in Bali seemed perfect at first, but broke our hearts in the end. Renting an apartment for a year is a commitment for people like us. When we are in Europe, we miss Asia. When we are in Asia, we miss Europe. 

I also hate to be wasteful. I don’t want to spend the money to rent an apartment that we never spend time in.

But, the schedule we’ve been running the last ten months is unsustainable. We realized we needed to find a home base, at least for awhile. We loved our time in Europe this summer, and thought about renting a place for six months in Bologna, to continue our love affair with Emilia Romagna. Renting a place in Italy would allow us to spend time exploring more of Europe.

We thought about renting a place in Bangkok for awhile, merely because it’s so easy. With cheap street eats, international food options, plenty of shopping malls, and a 7-11 on every corner. We have travel blogger and digital nomad friends here, and there are always folks coming in and out of Bangkok.

Listening to Sherry and Travis on the podcast, on the treadmill in our Airbnb apartment in Bangkok, was the first sign that we needed to settle down, just a bit. Whether we wanted to or not. That we needed to commit, even if only for a year, to a place we can call home. Question was, where?

Being Lazy About Finding a Home Base

Finding a Home Base
With Friends in Bangkok

In the last two weeks, we attended two big travel conferences, one in Bangkok and one in Singapore. We returned to Bangkok after 4 very long days in Singapore for ITB Asia. We landed after 10:00 pm, and were exhausted when we stepped inside our Bangkok apartment.

I was thrilled to return to a place that was familiar, even if we had only been staying there a few weeks. I immediately stepped into the shower, to wash off the airplane, without even unpacking first. I was able to do so because there was soap already in the shower, and pajamas waiting for me in the bedroom. I was in bed, and sound asleep, on my somewhat familiar pillow in a jiffy. It was like coming home.

The idea of soap in a shower is something that is not a revelation to most “normal” people. But, we are certainly not normal. For me, it was a sign. A sign that it was time to get serious about finding a home base.

Three days later, we were meeting with real estate agents in Bangkok. Two days after that we placed a deposit on an apartment. Today, we signed a contract for a one year rental in Bangkok. Sunday, we move in.

The Hoffmans Are Moving to Bangkok . . . For Now

We actually started joking a few weeks ago about renting an apartment in Bangkok. We like our apartment building. It’s less than a year old, has a roof top pool, and a gym, in a neighborhood we like. It also has a lot of empty units for rent.

We joked that we were so tired, and so lazy, that we would just look for an apartment in our Airbnb rental building. We would make the big move by carrying our bags a few stories up, and call it our home base.

We are no longer joking. That is exactly what we did. We looked at over 15 apartments in our building over two days and settled on a small 35 square meter apartment, with a view over Bangkok. It’s fully kitted out. So kitted out that all we need to buy to move in are some bath towels and toilet paper. It’s small, but it will be the perfect home base in Thailand.

finding a home base
Our new “home”

Difference Between a Home and a Home Base

What does this mean for our travels, and the blog? Not much whatsoever.

We have so many trips we are planning for 2016, and so many great brands we are looking to work with. We have opportunities in Asia, as well as in Europe. We are even considering a trip to South Africa next year. Unlike Bali, it’s actually pretty easy to get around with Bangkok as our home base.

The goal in finding an apartment so small, so cheap, and so easy to maintain, is that we can walk away from it for weeks at a time, if we so desire. And, I know we will desire. But, after each trip we can come back home, to some place familiar.

There is a big difference, in my mind, between a home, and a home base. For many people, a home is someplace you live all the time, with occasional holiday breaks. For us, a home base is some place we can travel from all the time, with occasional home breaks.

For us, finding a home base means a little bit of familiar and a lot less exhaustion. Wish us luck! 

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25 thoughts on “Finding a Home Base as a Long Term Traveler

  1. Susan says:

    Very happy for you Amber. Your new place and concept reminds me of our place in Kuala Lumpur which turned out to be a great base for travel all over Asia.

    • najwa says:

      First off, I love your site. I’m a New Yorker living in Bangkok for the past year (near On Nut BTS) and while it’s been a great step-down city coming from Brooklyn…I’m looking for more green and probably heading to Bali..after looking at your post though on the rainy season I think I’m gonna get there around March/April and hang out here a bit longer. LOL.
      Enjoy Bangkok and please let us know if you end up hosting any meet ups…it’s a great city as you know:)

  2. Jodi says:

    Yay! Glad to hear you’ll be in one of my favourite cities. Cute apartment too. No doubt the blog will blossom with the extra time and energy you will have, and with your exploration of the region.

  3. Carly says:

    Sounds ideal for you guys. The old ‘started as a joke now its real’ thing is kinda how most of my major life decisions have been made (tattoos, visa weddings) but surely the joke is just your subconscious at work right? Haha either way congrats on finding a place to unpack between trips 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Congrats! Sounds perfect… For now! After 4 years traveling, l knew for sure I wanted a home base again. I did what I wanted and had nothing to prove. Hope to see you somewhere next year!

  5. Ayngelina says:

    Bravo! I think it’s a natural progression to slow down. If you don’t listen to your heart it sucks the love out of travel. I think it’s going to be a great step for both of you, can’t wait to see what you eat in Bangkok.

  6. sarah says:

    I can really relate to this post. We prefer to travel slowly and often get an apartment for 2-3 months but I am beginning to consider the home base idea now that we are in Asia and see how inexpensive it can be. Who knows maybe we’ll join you in Bangkok!

  7. Mary Moss says:

    What a darling apartment. I am also thinking of moving to Bangkok. I’ve been in Myanmar for almost 2 years and would like a more “citified” life. I’m just beginning the process but would love to hear what area you selected and how you made your decision.


    • Amber H. says:

      We are near Chong Nonsi BTS, so in the business district. We like it here, because it is more quiet at night. If you have questions let me know!

  8. Tricia says:

    After my only 17 day whirlwind trip through the US, I completely understand your need for a home base. It is nice to have a place to come back to with stuff you are familiar with. Slow traveling is my favorite. I don’t think you can get a “true” sense of the place without at least a month’s visit. Hope you enjoy your new place!

    • Amber H. says:

      Thanks Tricia. We are liking it so far, but would like to spend more than a week in a row here. Hasn’t happened yet. Difference between a home and a home base.

    • Amber H. says:

      Yeah, we are actually heading out for two weeks, three different destinations in Asia, and the longest flight is less than 3 hours. I feel pretty centrally located!

  9. Del says:

    Hey Amber,

    What’s the name of your apartment again? I just met some housesitters/digital nomads who might be interested in Bangkok. I remember reading about it but couldn’t remember what it was.

  10. Kirsty says:

    Assuming you’re not living in the original airbnb apartment you rented(!), would you be willing to share the link to it please?
    We’re often in and out of Bangkok but never long enough to get to know is well, so I’m currently researching options for areas to live in …
    Many thanks
    ps We completely get where you’re coming from – we’ve not stayed in the same place for more than 3 months (and usually a lot less!) for the past 7 years! It could be time! 🙂

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