An argument for return travel

Seeing a place for the first time—whether Paris or Machu Picchu—has magical moments that stay in our memories long after the trip is over. And for travelers who want those new experiences, it’s tempting to discourage or eliminate return travel. While I’m drawn to places I haven’t yet visited, there are destinations that I return to multiple times—and have new and magical experiences each time.

If I stopped visiting New Orleans after that very first time back in the early 1990s, I’d see the city as if it were restricted to the French Quarter, sickeningly sweet hurricane drinks, amazingly tasty food and some of the best music on the planet. But more than 30 visits later, my view has been enriched by a greater collection of experiences that I’ve been able to add to the picture of the Crescent City in my head.

Does that mean I know everything about that one place or any place I visit multiple times? Absolutely not. Return travel has served as a way for me to get a more complete picture of a culture or a place, but the destinations that draw me back each time are so rich that there will always be something new. In that way, the place keeps surprising me as if it were my first visit.

How about you? Do you savor return travel, or do you prefer moving on to the next new place?

Posted by | Comments (11)  | March 17, 2011
Category: Lifestyle Design, North America

11 Responses to “An argument for return travel”

  1. Steve Says:

    Part of our travel philosophy is that we will be back again. It means we do not have to fit in every sight, adventure or activity on our first trip, and often leads to a return trip plan forming on the way home. Arriving in Rome last year for our third visit felt like coming home, and we bypassed the main sights to discover the wonders of less travelled Roman streets. I feel like returning again this year now.

  2. Amber Hadley Says:


  3. GypsyGirl Says:

    Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher of Ephesus said: “You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you.” For anyone expecting the same experience–a second time—will be sorely disappointed; honestly, any argument for return travel, is just a waste of wind–don’t you think? Those who strike out dead set on repeating another’s epic journey often find reality (and their own personality) taking lead of the script. Frankly, that’s the reason to travel—be it back to the same place, or one anew. Personally, I’m ecstatically looking forward to a return trip. It’s a foreign country I’ve spend the most time in–to date. Until I return, I continue to learn about the culture, people, and language so I may hear–firsthand–the stories of the northern people. The unique twist of how I will be arriving will help me hear acutely the heartbeat of the culture. Going deep—dare I say, deeper, brings you to that fine edge of the abyss; a place where, for those of us dedicated travellers, teeters the line of home–but dangerous, uneasy.

  4. Marcus Says:

    Great topic! I have a similar experience from going to Tokyo twice. Once, when I first moved to Asia. Then 5 years later, when I had already traveled through much of the continent. The city felt completely different each time, I think because of my experiences and personal growth.

    The first time, it lived up to what I had dreamed about Asia: hyper-modern, high-tech, etc. I got a lot more out of the city the second time around. By then, I realized how exceptional Japan was and how different it was from other Asian nations. Even though it was the same city, the two trips couldn’t have been more opposite.

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  6. Kit Whelan Says:

    So often I discourage myself from going somewhere I love because I should see something new, but it’s very true that by revisiting we can get more of the puzzle pieces in place for a more accurate picture of a place. Thanks for the article!

  7. Turner Says:

    I think there’s value in returning to a place after a certain amount of time. If nothing else, it encourages one to see things with a new set of eyes and reinforces the memories we do have.

  8. Teresa Coates Says:

    I’ve been to Vietnam twice now, staying for extended stays (7 months and 3 months) along with my children. We’ve now been there nearly every month out of the year and I can say that every season is different. The cities’ cultures changed over the two years between visits dramatically. I love returning to the same places, seeing them in a new light, even with visits to other places. The kids and I have traveled throughout SE Asia, but only plan to return to Vietnam and Thailand. Hopefully this fall on another humanitarian trip to orphanages. 🙂 Can’t wait!

    It’s a big world and there’s so much to see, but for me learning more about a few places at a time is better than putting country notches in my belt.

  9. Sara Gabrakirstos Says:

    Return travel is an amazing thing, it allows you to really see things in a different perspective. I was a student when I studied for several months in Siena, Italy. I traveled throughout Europe with my school’s program being my cushion. Coming back to Siena every weekend, was like having a home-base knowing that if I needed anything or had any problems I could easily get in touch with the people who could help me. That was in 2009. I returned to Siena and traveled Europe with my former roommate. No longer students, we didn’t have a cushion. And while we did make three trips back to Siena that entire trip abroad, we saw the world through new eyes and new experience on our own. This was surprising to us and at the same time very apparent, we couldn’t even help talking about the fact that we learned so much this time around about people, culture, and the differences that exist that we may have not noticed before. We also realized our place in these different societies and different worlds. Believe me when I say return travel will open your eyes for the better.

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