When we plan travel, it’s often tempting to go see somewhere new, somewhere we’ve never been. Sometimes I even feel like I can barely consider a trip a real vacation if I’ve been there before. But there’s a special magic in returning somewhere you already visited. These are just a few of the reasons why you might want to consider backtracking through old destinations.
You’ve already gotten all the important stuff out of the way
You typically do all the “must see” things on your first trip. So you stood in line for the Eiffel Tower and spent all day at the Met. While those things are amazing, sometimes the process of seeing them sucks. The Sistine Chapel is fabulous, but being herded through the Vatican Museum is not. But if you’ve been there, done that, you can spend more time doing stuff that’s less crowded and hectic to see and do. This leads to more discovery and less checking off a list of must-sees.
You already know what to avoid
Sometimes getting harassed around popular attractions or staying in the wrong side of town can negatively impact your perception of a whole place. Let’s face it, your entire impression of a city/a people/sometimes a country is often based on a very limited subset of interactions. But if you already know what you didn’t like or which areas you thought were dodgy, you can set yourself up to have a more successful second (or third or fourth) trip. Armed with experience, you can make an effort to skip the unpleasantries.
You get a chance to see the things you didn’t the first time around
It’s basically impossible to see absolutely everything you might enjoy seeing somewhere. I’ve been to Paris 3 times and still have never seen the Catacombs or the Musee d’Orsay. And I’ve lived in Prague for 2.5 years and there are still a bunch of castles, palaces, and museums I’ve never been to. There are likely things on your lists of interests that you had to cut for time, or because you were tired. Returning somewhere allows you to see those stragglers. Sometimes they end up being even better than you expected.
You get to enjoy the places you loved again
There are some places we never tire of enjoying, whether it’s Disney or the restaurants in New Orleans. Like the holiday season, which is so awesome because it only happens once a year, returning somewhere you’ve been allows you to indulge in your favorite sights, sounds, and especially food. Since you don’t get those things all the time, you maintain a sustained appreciation for them so getting to enjoy them is always lovely.
You’re older and might have different interests
Most places have different things to offer different kinds of people. And you yourself will be many different people throughout your life. You might go be interested in a city’s party scene when you’re in your 20s and their museums and history when you’re in your 30s. For instance, now that I’ve learned to cook, I realized that taking a cooking class is a phenomenal activity to do on vacation. Now I have like 20 countries to return to in order to do more of this.
You get to see a place at different times of the year
It’s holiday season, which means it’s Christmas market time all over Europe. If you’ve been to Germany at any other time of year, you wouldn’t even recognize it. As during Christmas, some cities look particularly beautiful in the fall or the spring. And the range of activities you can do also varies throughout the year. Going to France to ski in the winter is not the same as going to France in the summer to enjoy the sidewalk café culture.
Returning somewhere is more relaxing than going for the first time
Visiting a brand new place can be hectic and confusing. Many people opt for structured tours which are exhausting and leaves you very little time to relax and explore on your own. On the other hand, when you’re returning somewhere, you feel a certain sense of confidence and familiarity with the place. This makes a trip a little more painless and a lot more flexible. So although you might do a little less when you revisit, you might find it more enjoyable.
It can change a bad impression
You might think it’s a waste of money to go back to a place you didn’t really like, but some places deserve another chance. Sometimes I walk around Prague and think about how when I first came here years ago, I wasn’t that into it. I didn’t like the area where we stayed (though I happily live there now). If I had never returned to Prague, I literally don’t know where I would be right now. There are all sorts of reasons why you might get a bad impression from a place that is unjust and could be easily turned around. You never know, that place you were slow to warm up to might be home one day.