Frequent travelers have a dilemma. There’s the constant desire to see new places every time they hit the road.
However, there’s also a nostalgia for the very places they have seen on the journey before – and a longing to go back and experience those destinations again.
I used to think, “Why would you visit the same travel destination twice? After all, isn’t the point of travel to see as many new and exciting things as you can?”
However, after nearly a decade of travel I’ve changed my opinion on this. I think it’s totally fine to go back again to a destination you loved. In fact, you won’t even be missing out on a “new” experience – sometimes the second time somewhere can be just as thrilling, exciting and surprising as the first time.
Why Should You Go Back to a Travel Destination Twice?
Here are some of the reasons to consider visiting your favourite travel destination twice:
Your To-Do List is More Relaxed
On your first visit somewhere, you’ll have likely crammed in all of the “Top Ten” attractions during your stay. This can be a lot of fun, but it also can make for a stressful and busy travel experience.
When you visit the same travel destination twice, you’ve already crossed all of these “essential” attractions off your list, so you’re free to slow down and go a little more off the beaten track.
For example, Lee and I are currently in Paris – marking the 10 year anniversary of when I came here on my first solo trip abroad. On my first trip, I crammed in all of the items that were on my little art-geek bucket list, such as spending hours in the Musee du Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. I also took a couple of walking tours, so I’ve seen all of the main landmarks and highlights in the city centre.
Now that I’m here a second time after having already seen my top highlights, I feel like the pressure is off. I’m happy to simply wander through the streets and check out interesting neighborhoods to see what I can find. This time, it’s less about covering all of the highlights and more about wandering around, eating good food and soaking up the atmosphere.
The Place (And You) Will Have Changed
If you visit a place several years later, not only will the destination itself have changed – but you will have too.
Attractions will come and go, main squares will be redesigned and restaurants will open and close. It’s really interesting to see what’s new and different the next time you visit. A travel destination isn’t set in stone – it’s an ethereal thing that is always shifting and changing.
Also, the destination won’t be the only thing that has changed. If several years have gone by, you will likely have transformed as well. You might be at a totally different stage in your life, which will lead to you experiencing the city in a different way.
For example, traveling around Europe as a single 20th something on a limited budget is a completely different experience from visiting with your significant other when you are older and have a bit more money to spend.
You’ll Feel More Comfortable
Visiting a different culture can be a little nerve-wracking at first, as you’ll be outside of your comfort zone and things will be quite unfamiliar. However, when you visit the travel destination twice you’ll feel more confident and relaxed, which can make for a better experience.
Sometimes the feeling of culture shock is one of the reasons why I like traveling somewhere different, but sometimes it’s nice to be a little more familiar with the country – so that you can relax and enjoy your trip more.
You might even find that, if you visit a place enough times, those things that seemed strange and foreign at first become familiar and comforting. For example, I’ve been to Bangkok about 6 times now (as we use it as our base when traveling in Southeast Asia) and it feels like home to me now. As soon as I arrive in the city I relax and seek out my favourite local spots – and their familiarity is comforting.
You Can Learn From Your Mistakes
If you did anything wrong on your first trip, you can learn from it and have a better time on your second visit. For example, if the weather was colder or warmer than you expected you can bring the right clothing this time. If you realised that you took public transport more than you thought you would, you could get that weekly pass you weren’t sure about last time.
You can think about everything you did wrong on your last trip, and learn from these experiences so you don’t make the same mistakes again. As a result, you’ll have a better trip. (For example, if I went back to Vashlovani National Park I would do MANY things differently, as my first visit was a bit of a disaster.)
You’ll Notice More Details
When you are in a different place for the first time, you can be so overwhelmed with all of the newness you are experiencing that you might miss the little details. After all, our brains can only process so much new information at once before we start to filter it out.
When you visit for the second time, you’ll be able to look deeper and notice the little things that you missed the last time. These odd little observations can turn out to be incredibly interesting and can give you a new appreciation for the culture you are visiting.
You Can Visit During a Different Season
Travel destinations can be extremely different depending on the time of year you visit. Going back a second time gives you a chance to see them during another season and see what has changed.
For example, a destination can be completely different during the shoulder season or the low season, compared to the peak season. Visiting again during the quieter months can allow you to see more of what local life is like. It can also allow you to enjoy different activities at your destination.
For example, visiting Banff, Alberta, Canada in the winter is all about skiing, snowboarding and curling up by the fire with a cosy mug of hot chocolate. In the summertime, you can experience camping, canoeing, horseback riding and hiking. You almost HAVE to visit this type of travel destination twice, as the experience is so different depending on the time of year.
You Can Stay in a Different Neighbourhood
The first time you stay in a big city, you’ll probably pick centrally located accommodation that will position you close to the main attractions. However, on your second stay you can try another neighbourhood that will offer you a different perspective.
On this second trip to Paris, Lee and I are staying at an Airbnb in the 20th arrondissement, which is an area of the city I did not explore last time (other than visiting Pere Lachaise Cemetery). I have been wandering around the streets here and I’ve found local markets, quirky galleries, cool street art, lovely parks and so much more.
Go ahead, go back again
Now, I need to specify… I’m not saying that you should go back to the same mediocre place again and again because you are afraid of trying something new. I’m simply saying that if you find a complete gem, it’s okay to experience it more than once.
After all, if you’ve fallen in love with somewhere – why shouldn’t you go back and visit it again? Many people feel that travel should always be about moving on and creating new memories and experiences in different locations – but why can’t it be both?
After all, travel isn’t just a quest to check off as many places as you can. It’s all about being curious, immersing yourself in different environments and having experiences around the world. That doesn’t mean that those interesting experiences can’t happen in a place you’ve been before.
Travel destinations are multifaceted complex things that are always shifting and changing over time. So are people. I guess what that really means is… you can’t really visit the same travel destination twice. No matter how many times you go back it will always be different – and so will you.