Return to Sender – Planning Repeat Visits When Travelling

Tofino

Given the near-infinite number of places one could visit, and the relatively limited time we all have to visit them, should you travel to the same place twice? Or in my case, multiple times?

I write this sitting in a cafe in LA. I have been to LA…nine times. NINE TIMES. And yet I keep coming back, sometimes with friends, sometimes solo. I generally rent an apartment within the same area (or in this case, the exact same place I rented last year), I eat at my favourite restaurants, I follow a similar routine. I crave the familiarity of it, which based on conversations I’ve had with other travellers, is often reason number one why they wouldn’t plan return visits to a place. Fair enough.

But here’s the thing – you can generally never replicate an experience no matter how hard you try. Nor might you want to. The first time I visited Tofino I went solo. It was a weird sort of pilgrimage, taken at a point when I was feeling rather unfocussed. I sat on Chesterman Beach with a bottle of wine (discreetly, of course) and spent several hours staring at the changes in the tide, alternating between moments of tears and apathy, as I searched desperately for clues as to what I should do next. Those answers didn’t come, and I left the beach swearing. I also lost my camera’s memory card there, inexplicably, losing all of the photos I’d taken on my trip. Cue more swearing.

At any rate, I loved Tofino but wasn’t particularly convinced I would return any time soon. Until I found myself there two summers later with my parents, and then this summer with a friend. Despite visiting many of the same locations each trip was different, both in terms of physically what we did (wild hikes aside) but also my general mental state. And I value each visit for distinct reasons, as they mark different chapters in my life. The more you visit a place, the more you really know it – but I also think you discover a little more about yourself. And in my opinion, that makes return visits worthwhile.

What do you think – is there value in returning to a place you’ve already visited, or should you focus your time on working through your bucket list?

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8 thoughts on “Return to Sender – Planning Repeat Visits When Travelling

  1. Interesting post, I’ve often been there myself. I think that there is a sense of discovery in the act of familiarizing yourself with a destination. You peel back the layers or alternatively the destination digs in under your skin.

  2. Sam, I really like this post and can absolutely relate! I have one or two places where I have been that were amazing, but my personal experience was terrible. I have two particular places in mind that I wish to go back to one day and create a positive memory for. Hope you enjoy your ninth time(wow) in LA !

    1. Thanks Shannon! I love that you’re willing to give a place a second chance – I think that’s really important. Who knows what we could miss in life if we dismissed everything based on first impressions?

  3. I definitely agree that returning to the same location/trip can be totally different each time and if you love a place and it makes you feel good then go there as often as you like! Since I am someone who does not travel all that often (the most exciting ‘trip’ I’ve done in the past few years is Duluth, MN…) I probably would not return to the same place 2 or 3 (or nine!) times, so on the rare occasion I do travel it try to go somewhere different.

    Although, I went to Chicago twice, both trips were drastically different but awesome in their own way. LOLLA!!

    Keep making those LA-trip notches in your bedpost! I’ll high five you once you’re in double digits 🙂

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