There is a comfortable feeling one gets coming home, yet a different one coming to a familiar temporary home. A vacation home, campground, or resort have a special sweetness as one approaches through familiar territory one has not seen for months, crossing threshold after threshold of arrival until one is finally at The Place. There is sometimes still a lot of work to do, loading in and setting up, and one is impatient - the children especially are impatient - to have done with all that and finally be settled, able to refresh acquaintance with objects, people, and views. If boats are involved there is a whole second level of arrival.
My wife's family lived in Scituate, a South-Shore coastal town, so some of vacation was always in place. They would travel by car to other places, sometimes to visit friends on Lake Sebago, but more often on sightseeing trips. My family went always to lakes, only rarely to NYC or Washington DC. My stepfather's family had gone to Lake George and to a family cottage in NW Connecticut, my mother's family was Rte 28 all the way, mostly Winnipesaukee. I don't know how she won that one, but we rented cottages all around The Lake until finally buying one on Cow Island as the last child was finishing high school. After a near-fatal boating accident, they moved back onshore to Melvin Village, eventually retiring to Wolfeboro.
Cow Island was our last experience of that going-away-to-a-homecoming of cottage experience for a long time. It was family camping after that, with tents, then popups - first at the Lutheran camp. That was my children's childhood and stamped in family culture. Even now I will say "Camp Calumet" when I mean to say "Pilgrim Pines." Coming to a familiar campground has much the same feeling on arrival, but not quite. The people you will see are much more the point at a campground. At a cottage you see the people on either side and refresh relationships with storekeepers and marina owners, but not much more. Resorts are somewhere in between, I imagine.
We had a brief return to a vacation cottage for about five years between church camps, and it is now tiny lakeside cottage for us at a camp where many others tent or have RV's. We get some of that feeling coming to the same cottage every year, but never with the intensity of having to boat out to Cow Island and that peculiar magic of unlocking a place. If it is hard to get there, going slowly on dirt roads for the final miles, so much the better. Visiting any of these places in the offseason is jarring, even when feeding the nostalgia somewhat. That same-but-not experience deserves its own reflections, perhaps.
Going home from such places can be a bit of a wrench, the children moping about friends they will not see and things they will not be able to do for another year. Yet home is still home, and a relief. This is even more so when you have had to be away from home for reason of obligation or even unpleasantness - family gatherings or business travel. It is all quite different whether the family is all returning home together or if some are already in place while some are returning to them. But in neither case is it magical, as the summer (or winter) place is.