“You can’t go home again.” That’s how the old saying goes. Recently, when my grandchildren asked about my childhood, I couldn’t help but smile. My years spent growing up on a small Iowa farm certainly had their share of heartaches. I still look back with gratitude and a genuine fondness for this wonderful area that, for 18 years, I called home.
Questions about my “old stomping grounds” sparked a sudden longing inside me. I wanted to go home. I wanted to revisit the places that shaped my personality, my work ethic, my life and, well … who I am today. That’s when I decided to take the RV on a trip back home. Home to northwest Iowa, where I grew up.
Have you ever taken your RV back home?
Have you ever considered making a trip back home to where you lived during your childhood? There are many reasons why it can be a good idea to revisit the places you knew as a child. Here are just a few.
Revisiting your childhood home can bring back happy memories and a wonderful sense of nostalgia. If the stressors of your current life feel overwhelming, a trip home can be a comforting and uplifting experience.
On our RV trip “home,” I returned to the Iowa farm where I grew up. My husband (who never met a stranger) approached the current owner and explained that my family once lived there. I was so surprised when the farmer invited us inside the house! It was like walking back in time. The rooms I remembered to be so large were actually quite small. Many improvements had been made to the home, and I found myself wishing Mom and Dad could see it now, with me.
Going back to the place where you grew up can also give you the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends who still live in the area. Remembering past experiences with the important people who helped shape your character can strengthen your relationships.
Many of my relatives still live in my hometown and the surrounding area. It was so much fun talking to the aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who positively impacted my childhood—and life. I had a chance to thank them and that really felt good!
Investigating your roots
Going home to where you grew up can help you better understand how your childhood influenced your life choices. It can also give you a deeper appreciation for your cultural heritage and important values that were instilled in you as a child.
One part of our RV trip “home” was to visit the country church and parochial school where I worshiped and attended as a child. Our grandkids had a hard time believing that kindergarten through 4th grades shared one classroom, while 5th through 8th grades shared the other classroom. (I had fun telling them about chasing dinosaurs off the playground so we could enjoy recess!)
We drove past the fields where I had my first job, too. I “walked beans.” I had to explain that “walking beans” was not at all like walking dogs. Instead, the job meant walking up and down the rows of soybeans and chopping out weeds and thistles as I went along. (I’m certain that my first job helped instill in me the importance of showing up and working hard.)
Rediscover old haunts
Returning to the places you loved as a child can be exciting and, well, fun! A favorite store, park, restaurant, or other places in your hometown will bring back fond memories and perhaps give you a new perspective on your past.
Driving past the buildings where I attended high school brought back memories of running spring track. The high school is now listed as a “historical building.” It houses “a museum with artifacts of days gone by.” (Boy! Did that make me feel OLD!)
If you left your hometown under difficult circumstances, revisiting the place where you grew up can provide a sense of closure. It may help you come to terms with unsolved issues from your past and help you move forward with your life.
I’d be lying if I said my trip “home” was all great memories and fun times. I don’t think anyone passes through childhood without a few sad recollections. The dog headstone I’d erected in our farm grove of trees was no longer visible. Dear friends and neighbors that helped make my childhood special passed on before I had a chance to thank them. I visited their graves in the small country cemetery just outside of town. I placed flowers on my parents’ graves, as well. So, yes. Parts of my trip back home brought tears to my eyes. But I’m still so very glad that we made the trip. I know I’ll never forget it. And I don’t think my grandkids will either.
Have you ever considered taking your RV on a trip back to your childhood home? Have you already done so? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.
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By the time I turned 18, my family had lived and remodeled 5 homes, so going back home is always interesting to see the changes. After getting married at 21, my dad
helped us to buy my grandfather’s house, which was next to the home I was born in.
It was like going a full circle of homes for me. We lived there 10 years starting our family there, then moving to a Suburban home for 40 years, before retiring for the RV life. Eventually we bought into a retirement community 1250 miles south of our MN home, but still go north for the summers, to see all the family, friends and places we left behind. You can go home, but you can’t stay long there, because it’s too cold.
I live on the same property I was born and raised, as was my dad just up the creek. My grandparents homesteaded there as did my great-grands. No wish to move. I take the trailer to see other places, come home to privacy, no close neighbors, wildlife, woods. If only the riffraff would respect people’s private property… I call the police a lot.
My childhood home, a 36 acre resort on a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota was sold. The lodge, our home, torn down and the property was plotted off into parcels and sold. It would break my heart to go back and see it now. You really can’t always go home.
I left home but came back after living in several other states. My wife and I live just a few miles from where we grew up though we never knew each other until we were in our 40’s.
My family doesn’t move around much. My Dad’s people came here in the 1700’s. My Mom’s family came over on the boat in the 1850’s. All were trades people. Used to be a small state college/ farming town. Now it is the county seat full of scum sucking lawyers and and PIA college punks I can say that because i worked 3 jobs to pay for my college education. Progress is not always in a positive direction.
We (both of us) still occasionally go by our old homes in Ridgefield WA. They have been remodeled but still are there. My old home is where I met my now wife of 63 years in dads Thornless blackberry field. Wife’s home and milking barn still there with new siding. Brings back many memories.
We still live where we grew up..66 + years now. That’s why we travel all around to see where everyone else lives, and all the beautiful surroundings
For some of us “going home” is just part of life. My wife and I grew up in a large western NY City and raised our family there as well. We maintain an apartment there for when we are “on vacation”. At 80 many of our friends and people we grew up with are no longer alive. Somehow the houses mostly survive and we drive by from time to time. Most importantly our synagogue and the community it represents is still there and we find ourselves cherished members representing the recent historic times of a 175 year old institution. We do “go home” even when we are on the west coast by phone and zoom.
Yes, I went “home,” but not in the RV. We left the Washington DC metro area where DW and I lived and worked for 26 years and moved to my parents’ farm 6 years ago. We had a house built and a barn improved to house our DP between trips. “Home” changed considerably while I was gone. Our general contractor was two years ahead of me in high school, but none of the subs were from here. Ditto for probably 90 percent of those living in our no-longer-little town. Seeing someone I know from the past is a rarity. No farms remain. Most have become homes to tens or hundreds of people. Daddy has since died and DW’s father may soon follow suit. Many relatives on both sides of the family live nearby, but as many are scattered across the country. Some of our nearest neighbors are adults with whom I shared my childhood, but almost as many are “new” and have not lived here even 40 years. Daddy’s family moved here over 200 years ago, as did most families here during my childhood.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. By the looks of the comments, we are a chosen few… those whose childhood homes or homesteads still remain.
When my children were young, we were driving through Pennsylvania and I thought we would drive by the farm where I grew up. We moved away from there when I was in Jr. High. Anyway, we stopped and got out of the car, intending to only look at the barn (an Amish barn originally). A man came out and asked us what we wanted and I replied that I had grown up here and wanted my children to see where I stayed and played. He replied that that was okay, but not to go into the barn yard as there was a bull in there. His wife came out and asked if I wanted to see the inside of the house. After the tour, I said good bye and thanked them for allowing me to intrude. They said, “That’s okay, Mr Jennings, we’re glad you came by”. I said, “I never told you my name!”. They replied, “Well your two sisters came by last year and did the same thing, so we figured you had to be the brother”.
Isn’t it fun to get inside the home where you grew up? Thanks for sharing your story!
Too many childhood homes. Some I barely remember. The one I remember most fondly has been surrounded by many square miles of development, so it’s painful to even drive through. No other childhood place I would do more than drive by to see if it’s still there. I can do that on Google Earth.
Not my childhood home, but my career and family home for 27 years in Seattle has been on my mind a lot lately. I would love to visit – until I look at the weather forecast. One big reason I left.
Bon Jovi did a song with Jennifer Nettles, “Who says you can’t go home?” Well, I say you can’t, especially if your old home no longer exists because it was demolished (along with even the address!). I grew up in inner-city Chicago and my old neighborhood is now unrecognizable. Plus, none of my old friends still live there. There is no reason to go back and ruin my memories. I want to remember my childhood neighborhood as it was back when it was fun to live in Chicago.
Many of the places we three kids lived and worked growing up are no longer there! Things have changed as time has moved forward. I have visited a few homes and neighborhoods still there, good and bad memories resurfaced. After a military career, home is the US of A, and where we hang our hats is home (brick and sticks or RV).
I’ve been back “home” to 2 of the 22 “homes” I grew up in – both of which had been demolished and no longer there. Dad was a military contractor so we moved a lot – I mean a lot. So going back “home” would be more than a 6000 mile adventure, multiple stop trip for me to visit the remaining 20 “homes”. Sometimes for some of us there is no going back – only the here and forward, into the future.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the different parts of the country, the people, and the cultures. When RVing, I now meet folks from all over the country, I catch certain words that give away the part of the country they’re from. Most times I get it right. I then ask them to guess where I grew up. After they listen a bit, they’ll pick up words that latched on to me from different parts but it’s always confusing to them until I explain. Who I am is a part of all the places I’ve been and absorbed.
So back “home” to me is these great United States of America and all the wonderful folks I meet.
My wife and I are in our mid to upper 70s and we started going back to the small towns that we grew up in on a annual trip each year now for the last 10 years. Things have changed so that it’s hard to fathom what’s happened to these areas. Once there with many factory’s providing jobs, now none. The area was also a large farming area now no more. Schools are now graduating half as many students or are closed all together. Memories are great but when you return it’s depressing to see how what we called home has become.
Never. As an ex-military brat, lived and was hated in too many places. Except on Military Paydays!
Tom I am sorry that people mistreated and disrespected you because of your families vocational choices. I have several in our family that have served and most enjoyed being in many places when they look back on those times.
Yes, I have “Gone Home”. Not only to my former homes (14 before college), but a few of my ancestors’ as well. In the process of filling in the blanks on my family’s history/genealogy my wife and I visited 13 of my former homes, the one missing being the home I was taken to after my birth (I don’t know the address). These visits, via our RVs, have taken us to all of the lower 48. Even on my current trip, I visited the two places I lived a mere 82 years ago. (One paved over with a large housing development, the other being prepared, most likely, for same future. “Nostalgia” could be my middle name.