March 2018

Confessions of a Homebody

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

Ever notice how travel brochures and websites can make just about any place look appealing? Rarely does the hotel, restaurant, or tourist attraction live up to its beaming reviews and heavily doctored photos; like dating profiles and swimsuit models, what you see isn’t always exactly what it pretends to be. But this is not the real reason I prefer staying home.

When I say I don’t enjoy travel, it doesn’t mean I don’t travel. I venture over the bridge to Bluffton once or twice a month. Occasionally I head to Atlanta for a Nordstrom fix (and to be reminded what real traffic is). Sometimes I make the trek to out-of-town concerts, conventions, or events that interest me. And once in a while, I visit a relative or friend who lives more than a stone’s throw away.

I don’t come from a family of world travelers. In fact, my parents did not travel, save for the occasional family vacation to visit my grandmother in Florida. I was sent off to camp in the North Georgia mountains a few times as a kid. I might as well have been deposited on a different planet—although it was only a short station wagon ride away from our little brick house in East Point. I remember waking to a bugle call before sunrise, swimming in ice-cold creeks, singing “Kum Ba Yah” around a bonfire, making s’mores, and short-sheeting the camp counselors’ beds. I also remember being homesick and writing letters to my mother, begging her to please send candy.

When I say I have no desire to travel, most people look at me with pity, as if I’m missing some vital piece of cultural awareness or worldly sophistication. They often launch into discourses on where I must go or what I must see. I assure them that I have not lived my entire life with my head buried in the Hilton Head Island sand, although I’ve spent the past 37 years with my feet firmly planted here.

As a young adult, I had the good fortune to marry an older gentleman who set out to “show me the world.” (He is also the person who moved me to Hilton Head Island.) This was in the 1980s and ’90s, long before you had to take off your shoes and be x-rayed to board an airplane. I rode on planes, trains, and trolleys, and in helicopters, taxis, and limousines. I saw castles, cathedrals, monuments and palaces, beaches and forests, mountains and oceans. I went scuba diving in Cozumel, rode a jet ski in the Cayman Islands, parasailed in Hawaii, got stranded on a catamaran in the Florida Keys, petted a goat on the side of the road in Scotland, made love on the beach in Acapulco, climbed the full 551 steps of St. Peter’s cupola in Rome, and got serenaded in a gondola in Venice. I saw Broadway shows in New York City, wept at Arlington Cemetery, ate gumbo and peeked in to bawdy sex shops in New Orleans, took a ride on the cable car in San Francisco, won $100 playing craps in Vegas, attended Wimbledon and wept through Phantom of the Opera in London. I rubbed shoulders with a few celebrities along the way and was mistaken for one at Universal Studios in Hollywood as I exited a black stretch limo. (I saw a few cameras flash and went along with it.) Oh, by the way, this was when cameras were still cameras, not phones.

For all the fun I had, I can’t say that I ever really loved to travel. I was, perhaps, just a bit more adventurous and a lot younger. Even then, I breathed a sigh of relief each time I returned home.

In recent years, I have taken a number of trips within and outside of the U.S.—nothing terribly exotic, but a decent range of sights and experiences. And no matter where I go, I’m always happiest when I cross back over the 278 bridge, leaving the billboards, city lights and the rest of the world in my rearview mirror.

While there are countless places I haven’t been, I don’t believe I’m missing a thing by not traveling any more than I do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m interested in hearing about your tours, cruises, and wild adventures to worlds beyond the bridge. Please show me your pictures and share your selfies. Just don’t feel sorry for me or attempt to convert me.

I’m with Dorothy. Home is where my heart is, and there’s no place on earth I would rather be.\

The Real Reasons I prefer staying home
•Stuff. I like having my “stuff” at my fingertips, spread out, where I can find it. Packing is a nightmare—too many decisions with too many variables to consider. Dressing for the day is so much simpler at home.

• Space. I’m not willing to lay down the cash to fly first class, even for an international jaunt. (I am, however, willing to spring for the extra checked bag—see stuff, above). Frequently, I wind up in a middle seat, squashed between two alpha males competing for shoulder space and leg room. At home, I have plenty of space to call my own.

• Bathrooms. Growing up, our family of four shared one tiny bathroom. I no longer want to share—especially with the general public. At home, I don’t have to fight for my turn or worry about whether or not the previous occupant had cooties.

• Navigation. Even with Siri and Google Maps to guide me, I’m quite frequently recalculating or trying to make a legal U-turn. Finding my way is not a problem here on the island, and I never have to parallel park—which I couldn’t do if my life depended on it.

• Blankets. Most modern hotels (especially the fancy ones) have replaced the humble blanket with a ginormous comforter. Regardless of the air temperature, I need the weight and warmth of a blanket, not Mother Goose smothering me under 10 pounds of feathers. At home, my blanket is “just right.” Plus, I know who has been sleeping under it.

• Routine. While I’m not averse to a bit of spontaneity, in general, I am a planner and a person who thrives on routine and order. Although I occasionally get a wild hair and do something unexpected, most of the time you will find me pretty close to home. I love island life and find nothing here from which I need to escape—other than the occasional hurricane or snow storm.

• Scenery. Although there are many beautiful places in the world, I can’t recall a single time when I have needed a change of scenery. I like the scenery here just fine.

• Cat. When I travel by car, I take my feline friend with me, and he’s perfectly content to go along for the ride. While my pet sitters do an amazing job taking care of him in my absence, walking out the door with a suitcase sans cat carrier rips my heart right out of my chest. It’s okay, little buddy. I’ll be home soon!

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