Should I go back to a place that I know and love or should I take a risk and travel somewhere new? – It’s an internal struggle that I go through every time I sit down to start planning my next trip.
Throughout my life, there have been a few spots that I’ve been captivated and enamoured by. New York, Galway, Rome, and pretty much all of Germany come first to my mind. These are meaningful places to me, places I will always be eager to return to, and where the probability of a thoroughly enjoyable trip is high.
On the other hand, I’ve traveled to some cities that I just couldn’t get into. Porto, Strasbourg, and Chicago didn’t do it for me. While this was more of a reflection of my travel circumstances than the actual cities themselves (unpleasant weather, subpar planning, etc.), I’ve gone back and forth ever since about whether I should return to these spots to give them the second chance that they justly deserve. And of course, there are dozens of other cities that fall in between.
So where should I travel to?
The rational part of me wants to go back to my favourite spots as I know I’ll enjoy them and the chances of finding somewhere I love as much are relatively low. So, case closed. Right…? Then again, all of these places were new to me once, when I visited for the first time and developed these strong ties. Wouldn’t it be a shame to deprive myself of the opportunity of finding more spots like these? Or what if I’m missing out on the best place ever. And the travel FOMO sets in.
I met someone the other day, a 77 year old woman who has a deep passion for travel. The kind of person who can weave a travel related story into any conversation. She told me how she travels to New Zealand year after year, where she has amassed a network of friends scattered across the country. She’ll stop in at her favourite restaurant and everyone will know her and she’ll be driving in the rural countryside and someone whom she’s met before will flag her down. She confided in me that she’s never been to Europe or Asia, and I got the feeling that she’ll never have the desire to go either. She strikes me as a woman who knows what she likes, and in this case, it’s this isolated island on the other side of the world.
Which makes me think, why do we feel pressured to always see something novel when I travel? Is it still traveling when you’re not having a new experience?
Recently, I’ve been putting this idea to the test. On my last trip, I spent three weeks revisiting some of my favourite spots in Europe: Utrecht, Cologne, Maastricht, Rome. It was tough to neglect the places that I’m dying to visit, like pretty much anywhere in Scandinavia, but it was also phenomenal to instantly feel oriented when I arrived in these cities. I knew what to do, where to go, and how to do it, which removed all of that stress that typically culminates upon arriving in an unfamiliar place.
Ultimately, I think there needs to be a balance between the two extremes – the adventure of discovering a new place and the comfort of reconnecting with an old one. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, Scandinavia, here I come.
What do you think about all of this? Do you have the same struggle? Tell me, I really want to know!