Thanks for your replies.
My needs are a bit nebulous because I'm in learning mode and it's almost more hobby than serious need.
On the surface, I would like to be able to connect to home while I'm away (either at work or travelling) and do the following:
* Use my home network as an http and email proxy
* Take control of my home mepis desktop via something like VNC and just do my work that way.
I know that lots of people have good luck with Hamachi, but I don't want to use a corporate solution, plus they have a server that serves as a middle-man in the connection process and I don't like that for philosophical reasons.
I might be able to do everything with the SSH port forwarding. I've tried setting that up on my router but I'm having some trouble with it. I haven't spent serious time trying to fix it yet.
I have heard that Hamachi will do the NAT traversal for you, so you don't need to open a port. I'm not too concerned about opening a port though, although I might opt for something that's not 22!
I have heard that VPN's are more secure than an SSH connection, and that I could actually open a VPN connection and still use SSH, which would provide a double-layer of security. This is where the hobby aspect of this comes in because it'd probably be a bandwidth hit and I don't have great bandwidth at home anyways.
Nevertheless, I want to know about all of my options, and what has worked well for others, and I strongly prefer FLOSS solutions to a propietary tool.