For both political and ideological reasons, return is the most favoured future imagined for refugees by policy makers and protection actors. This article analyses how humanitarian migrants in a context of limited durable solutions can be supported to reclaim ownership of their futures, as well as how this can result in deeper insights for social scientists and policy makers. For the case of Syrians, this study deploys futures literacy labs as a participatory and capability-based research methodology that allows participants to become researchers of their own lives. Based on two futures literacy labs with two Syrian families in Lebanon in 2020 and 2021, the article demonstrates that a futures capability-based approach provides humanitarian migrants with the cognitive space and agency needed to go beyond foreclosed decision-making processes. The research methodology allows researchers to become witnesses to intimate reappropriation and learning processes by humanitarian migrants themselves. As a result, we are able to argue that ‘returns’ as a durable solution are essentially about a return to a state of well-being and possibilities, which may or not entail a spatial return.