IT’S THE NOVELTY. IT”S TRYING to see new places through the eyes of their long-time residents. It’s the road-trip soundtrack, whether CDs, tapes or new-to-me radio stations. If flying, it’s seeing the landscape from a different perspective; it’s the tiny bottles; it’s the in-flight magazines and audio offerings (and it was eating the twice-wrapped kosher meal, at least when airlines still offered meals). It’s watching urban areas dissolve into countryside the further away you get from the city. It’s finding new places to eat, and eating like the locals. It’s testing the limits of my comfort zone. It’s the packing. (It’s also the unpacking.) It’s the buying of souvenir T-shirts. It’s the music of a different language, dialect or lingo. It’s the reading of local newspapers. If staying somewhere for a while (motel, cruise ship, or campground), it’s the slow accumulation of a sense of place. It’s the making of new, if transient, friends. It’s the recognition of a common humanity amid the sea of unfamiliar faces. It’s the sense of what-a-big-world-this-is-ness. It’s the taking of photographs. It’s the keeping of a travel diary. It’s the eventual familiarity of unfamiliarity. It’s using a different showerhead and travel-sized toiletries, and the general grounding / centering / calming effect of daily cleanliness rituals. It’s the making of memories. And it’s how small your hometown (and home) looks after an extended absence.