Do you sometimes feel guilty about visiting the same place twice…or more?
Some argue that revisiting destinations is a waste, that life is too short to spend time and money going to a place you’ve already been. But this belief implies that the goal of travel is to visit as many places as possible before you inevitably kick the bucket. This simply isn’t the case.
Many of the people I follow on social media always seem to be jetting off to one new place or another, and a small part of me wonders whether I should be doing the same. However, experience has shown that the most honest expression of how I prefer to travel could be compared to how you’d build a long-term relationship–by developing intimacy through repeated interactions over time.
Don’t get me wrong: one of the most important elements of travel for me is what I call the “infusion of the unfamiliar”–that feeling of landing in a new place and being disoriented, grasping for something that looks and feels a little bit like home. Those early moments in someplace new, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by loss of control, lay the foundation for my most poignant memories of personal growth. It doesn’t take long–usually a day or two at most–before I begin to rediscover my identity within the framework of my new surroundings. That first inkling of belonging in a place where I’m an outsider feels intoxicating every single time.
However, as I’ve become a more tenured traveler, I’ve realized that some of my most memorable travel experiences have happened in places I’ve returned to again and again. I’ve discovered that sometimes the most satisfying travel isn’t about going wide–it’s about going deep. If your goal is to visit as many countries or destinations as possible to check off items on your bucket list, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that pursuit. However, if you’re interested in really spending time in a single place multiple times, that doesn’t mean you’re doing travel “wrong.” I’ve always believed that for travel to be satisfying, you’ve got to travel your truth.
Still unconvinced? If you’re feeling torn between the allure of the unfamiliar but similarly haunted by the familiar comfort of cherished locales, here are a few of my tried-and-true tips for keeping those old favorites feeling fresh.
Change your timing
If your first visit to a destination happened in the spring, try visiting during the fall next time or vice versa. You might be surprised by how climate, daylight, and seasonality impact how you experience a destination.
Adjust your mode of transport
If you visited a city by car before, consider crafting a new experience by seeing that same city on two feet. Walking around forces you to slow down, providing a richer, more nuanced experience. In contrast, driving instead of walking might allow you to access harder-to-reach sites that could enrich your visit.
Shift your surroundings
If your repeat destination is a large city, choose to stay in and explore a neighborhood you haven’t seen before. You’d be surprised by how much it feels like a completely new place.
If you’d previously visited a destination with friends or family, give solo travel to that destination a whirl. Traveling by yourself feels totally different from traveling with someone else. It’s like reading a new book without anyone else’s notes in it.
Even if you don’t embrace any of these suggestions, there are still a few more things to consider: people and places aren’t static. They shift and evolve with time. So even if–with all other things being equal–you do decide to revisit a place you’ve been to before, both you and your destination will undoubtedly be different from what you both were in the past. As a result, fresh experiences are bound to happen.
Although one of my 2018 travel goals is to visit more new-to-me places, you can be sure I’ll be sure to sneak in an old favorite or two. What destinations are you planning to revisit this year?