For the past six years, my goal has been to visit at least one new country each year. It was going pretty well until 2020, when international travel was (and as of this writing still is) largely closed to Americans, or there are strict quarantine requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This had me thinking about a comment from our recent interview with Krissy Kennedy, about how she’s more open now to going back to past destinations, having met her initial goal of visiting 40 countries by the time she turned 40. Most of the places I visited in 2020 I had been to before, but traveling was still fun, with new adventures to be had in familiar places, even close to home. Since this is still going to be our reality for a while as we wait for a majority of the world’s population to be vaccinated, here are some ways to approach return visits to a destination.
Some people fall so in love with a place, they buy a home so they can go back whenever they want. As a kid, I was lucky to spend my summers in North Carolina when my parents got a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. TrekSimple co-author Caren and her husband have a beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Other friends have cabins, lake houses, weekend vacation condos, and the like. These homes can be rented out when you’re not there or they can be a private oasis in your favorite place to travel. When you hang out somewhere so often, it can become a true second home, where you make friends and get to know all about the area. We’ve seen a whole lot of this in the past year with COVID.
Visiting Friends and Family
Another cause for repeat visits to a particular area is spending time and staying with friends and family. Here’s our post on how to be a good visitor. If you know you’ll be back to visit, you can plan to see different things each time you return. Ask your friends and family the best times of year to visit – both for their schedule/availability and for what’s going on in the area. Ask if they have any favorite seasons, parks, museums, festivals and events you can plan to visit as those events and venues resume operations.
When I was researching Iceland, though it’s fantastic to visit in fall or winter, I was quite disappointed that we would totally miss out on seeing Icelandic puffins and going whale watching, and, oh by the way, that time of year it is dark from about 4:30 p.m. to 9:45 a.m. However, we would have had a chance to see the Northern Lights, although we didn’t on that trip. I also learned that St. Petersburg, Russia, has “White Nights” in the summer, apparently a very romantic time when it barely gets dark and people stay up late drinking hot chocolate. This is right up my alley, but we went for Thanksgiving. A reason to go back someday. When I research a trip, I find myself always learning about one or two must-do’s for a location that are only possible by visiting in another season, or when conditions are different – like seeing Monarch butterflies migrating outside of Mexico City, or the flower festival in Medellin, or like, all of the things that don’t happen during a global pandemic. So, I make a note in my travel document and swear to do those things if I ever have the opportunity to go again.
Another way to strategically revisit a place and still see some new sights is to tack on a return visit to a favorite city on the way to or from a new destination. If I travel to Spain any time soon, I might fly in or out of Barcelona and also visit Madrid. Maybe I’ll stop in Paris then head on to Marrakesh. We flew to Reykjavik, Iceland, from Dublin, allowing me to revisit Dublin and see more of Ireland, while also visiting a new country on the trip. As Americans, we by and large don’t think this way when traveling within the U.S., but there’s no reason not to do this at home, if you have the time to extend a trip. Going to San Francisco? Add a couple days in Napa Valley or Sonoma. This is a great option if you’re traveling with people who have already been to a particular location and don’t mind going back. Be sure to ask the person who has already been there what they thought about the destination and what their “must-do’s” were, so you hit the highlights, don’t waste time and allow them to see some new sights.
What are your favorite places that you keep returning to, or want to go back to?