Repeat travel: somewhere new or somewhere known?

I have been to a lot of amazing places. In some places, the food and culture or natural beauty make me vow to relive them over and over again. There are other places, where the cities are so vibrant and soulful, that I just want to immerse myself there for years by packing up all my belongings and moving there.

After diving Sipadan Island in 2009, I was absolutely blown away. There were sheer walls so full of colour, turtles everywhere you turned, and giant schools of barracuda. I stayed in my own overwater bungalow in a resort not far away from the island, and the whole experience was so enjoyable that I thought to myself, “I’ve found my annual holiday destination” and vowed to come back.

Similarly when visited Mexico, I fell in love with the food, the culture, the history, the language, and the colour of the country, and thought I’d definitely love to go back to see more. New York City had me at hello (and the Met, and Central Park, and the restaurants) and Cartagena in Colombia had such a relaxed vibe to go with its beautiful old, colonial walled city that when I visited both of these cities I decided almost immediately that I wanted to flee Sydney and move to the Americas.

cartagena colombia

So many times I’ve been to an amazing place and thought I’d go back again but, barring a second visit to New York City, the reality is that there are so many new places on my wish list to visit that, when I’m assessing my travel destination options, I almost always pick a new city or new country where there are new adventures in store. This may subconsciously be a bit of a checkbox ticking exercise but there is genuine excitement at the thought of experiencing a different culture, different food, and different sights to those you’ve seen before.

Not everyone is like this though. There are many people that like the familiarity of somewhere known, where you stay in your usual hotel or dine at your favourite restaurant each year. Every time they visit they learn more about a place, become more comfortable there, build on each experience there and create a lifetime of memories.

Many people have time shares in a resort or a holiday home down the coast where they will take their vacation every year, in the same place. In a way, it becomes a home away from home, rather than living out of a suitcase for weeks on end.

It’s also quite a romantic idea to holiday somewhere that you had as a child, and if you have children, share the same experience with them. This is almost like passing on a family tradition through the generations.

In the end, it’s a matter of weighing up what you want. Is it a new country with a new language that you can have fun grappling with while ordering meals at the little family run restaurant, or a new city with new little laneways and restaurants to discover? Or do you want to relax in a place that is familiar, where you know there’s a good restaurant that can cook your steak perfectly, where you know that the beach has perfect waves, or where you like being greeted by the hotel staff like old friends?

For me, I still dream of living in New York City and doing more diving in Sipadan. But until then, there are so many fabulous new places to see! Bon voyage!

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2 thoughts on “Repeat travel: somewhere new or somewhere known?

  1. A way out of the returning to somewhere familiar/going somewhere new conundrum might be to go back to the country you liked but to a different part of it. It also means you can build on the insights you have gained without starting all over again in a new environment. For example, I fancy a second visit to India and it is, of course, big enough and diverse enough to offer a choice of possible destinations. I can use my experience, such as how to get around by rail, to make things go more smoothly.

    • So true! I would love to see more of Mexico – didn’t get to the north at all or anywhere west of DF but I loved the rest of it so I imagine those other places would be just as enjoyable. I’m pleased to hear that you are contemplating a second visit to India. It’s one of those places that people seem to absolutely love or find way too overwhelming!

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