“The Search for Home Continues,” is written at the top of Dave’s website, and this statement sums up his travels in full:
Dave is not a traveler in the traditional sense, he is a man who is just looking for a place to live.
The fact that his search has lasted over five years and has taken him overland from the Atlantic coast of Portugal across Europe, through Iran, Pakistan, Tibet, China, and to the Pacific archipelago known as the Philippines is just a matter of circumstance: he has simply not found home yet.
But he has created one of the best travel websites in the process.
Dave is also a man of mystery. Few of his readers knows where he came from, even less know what he looks like, and I don’t have the impression that he even knows where he is going. But one thing is obvious: the search for home continues.
After searching for home across more than 17 countries, I interviewed Dave on his criteria for finding a home, his idea of what a the word home means, and if he has already found a sense of home in his traveling boots.
1. How did the idea come about to travel the world in search of home? What gave rise to this concept?
I grew up in a bad environment. From an early age my imagination was my escape. I dreamed of far off places where things would be better. It stuck with me as I grew from boy, to teenager, to man; to the guy traveling the world in search of home.
As I planned this all out, I quickly understood that I couldn’t just pick “any country”, go there and live. I’ve seen so many people fail with the misconceptions of what a place would be like. For me, I put two things together: travel, & searching for a place to live.
I drew a line from across the longest expanse of land I knew. Starting from Portugal I would make my way overland to China. Along the way I would visit many countries and learn from them in hope that one of them would be that place called home.
Of course it didn’t all go to plan, such is travel. I accomplished the overland journey through emergency ruled countries, embargo’s, riots, and uprisings. Moreover, I came close to home, and earned more than a PhD in the understanding of this quest.
2. After five years of searching for home, what are your criteria for finding a place that is livable?
This is easy, and tough to answer. Firstly, without doubt, one has to get “that” feeling when you are there. I didn’t think it existed, until it hit me on the head like a hammer. A little boy’s hope’s and dreams all came together one morning when the man realized he’d found it.
Then enter politics, visas, bureaucracy, immigration, cultural & social integration, and finally, again, immigration laws.
So in essence my criteria should be, “the feeling” of home, being socially excepted and being able to integrate whilst still keeping one’s own identity. And yes, the ability to legally live there without any issues.The latter is turning out to be one of the harder aspects.
3. You have traveled through Nigeria, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia on this search, has there been any close candidates for becoming home?
Yes. First and foremost; Nepal. That country delivered the “feeling of home” to me for the first time. Portugal / Romania are also close contenders as is The Philippines where I’ve spent most of my most recent time.
Now throw in the obstacles of politics and bureaucracy not to mention finances; and, I have new challenges to overcome on this journey.
4. A. After searching for home in foreign lands for the better part of a decade, what is your current concept of the word “home?”
At the start of this journey it was to find my own place. Where I could live happily.
Now, at this stage, I have learned a lot.
I don’t agree with the concept of “Home is where the heart is”. I’ve seen people fail in the long term with this. A huge subject in itself.
Home for me is the place where I can live in harmony with the cultural and social aspects of a society, have trustworthy friends, and have a good family of honorable and moral values. It is a place that feels like home, where I can live legally, work, and be productive for my own life and those around me. It is a place where I can smile, laugh, cry and love.
4.B. As you have traveled through many different cultures on your overland journey from the European coast of Atlantic to the Asian shores of the Pacific, have you observed drastically different outlooks and attitudes towards the concept of home in the people you have met?
Drastic differences, no. Everyone has a similar concept of home. It’s where family and friends are. Yet, that’s not always enough in many societies these days.
I have noticed a breakdown in the concept of home is where family or friends live. Particularly in developed countries. As an example many in Africa, the Mid East & Asia are shocked to hear people in developed countries put their parents into homes rather than have them move in with them. They tell me this is horrific. Yet, I’ve seen a similar trend emerge in the richer class in some of these developing countries. And, it’s under the similar guise of having no time to look after them. And, so the concept of home & family may be changing globally.
Along a different vein; my story is not very different at all from millions of others out there who are also searching for home. Political corruption, war, famine, financial incentive, human rights violations are just some of the motives of people I’ve met on my journey who are searching for home.
We are all looking for the same thing; I just happen to be putting it all online.
5. Have you found home already? After reading your site for some time, it seems to me as if you may have found a sense of comfort — home, perhaps — in the ongoing motion of perpetual travel. Is there any truth to this? Or is this just wishful thinking on my part?
Wishful thinking I am afraid! Yes, I enjoy travel. But I am not doing it for the sake of travel alone, and so it is actually a weighty burden compared to nomadic living. I have no base and while I can pull up into a port for a few weeks, months or even a year, it’s not home. I have nowhere to return to when the going get’s rough. If I fall tomorrow and break a leg, I have no one to look after me but me.
My friends these days are more virtual than real. In the last 5 years I’ve met only 3 real life friends more than once. I don’t like that. I want to find “that” place I can stop, get that feeling, and live there. Do I have itchy feet? Yes, for sure. But not for perpetual travel. Travel like this, for me, is a means to an end.
Comparing things to the start of my journey am I any closer? Yes for sure. But along the way I’ve learned that there are also many other things to take into consideration with this journey. I’ve learned a lot, more so than I ever imagined. A dream is great, making it come true is the challenge. My dream is becoming a reality through travel.
I admire Dave because he knows what he is looking for, he knows what he wants, and he is out in the world trying to find it. Most travelers that I know have no idea what they are traveling for, what they are striving to get to, what they are running from. Dave knows.
Dave’s ongoing search for home can be followed at Longest Way Home blog. He has also released an excellent ebook of the Top Places to Travel and Photograph, that can be had for free by subscribing to The Longest Way Home.
Vagabond Journey Interviews