Why Revisiting a Place Can be Just as Magical as the First Time

I renewed my passport in January. My somewhat ragged, nearly full (including those extra pages) blue book was replaced for a new clean one. It’s kind of a bittersweet experience and a great chance to revisit all the places I’ve been over the past ten years.

Also a great incentive to start filling those blank pages back up. By the time I publish this I will have earned two stamps in my booklet: Iceland and Japan. These are both places I’ve been before, but I’m just as excited this time around as I was the first time.

I’ve discovered there are generally two schools of travelers: those who think life is too short to visit the same place twice, and those who return to their favorite spots again and again. After over 10 years of travel, I’m definitely of the second school. Here’s why:

Places Change

Revisiting Reykjavik in February was really interesting. When I visited in 2009 the country was reeling from the 2008 economic crash. Tourism was just starting to pick up but it wasn’t a major destination yet. In fact, I remember my coworkers being totally puzzled about why I would vacation there of all places.

Now, Iceland is a bonafide destination and tourism is clearly booming. Reykjavik is much less sleepy, buzzing with new hotels and restaurants. The economy is thriving in large part to the influx of tourists and every local I met spoke glowingly about the jobs that have opened up thanks to them. They are smart, with a strong emphasis on sustainable tourism and visitor experience.

It was pretty neat to visit the Harpa, Reykjavik’s amazing performing arts space that had barely been conceived last time I was there. And of course Iceland’s natural beauty is just as mind-boggling as ever.

So Do People

I first visited Iceland in June 2009. This was pre-blog, pre-Mike, pre-quit-my-job-and-travel. It was seriously just a 10 day vacation with a friend, but in many ways it changed my life, setting events in motion that would push me onto the path I eventually traveled down. Iceland inspired me to start my blog, to focus on travel and to really make some major changes in my life.

Which was why it felt so surreal to return. Nearly 7 years later I found myself on a plane from Seattle to Reykjavik. This time I was coming on assignment with a major airline, the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a bonafide travel writer. I was leaving a home in Seattle, with a husband and a dog.

Looking at a familiar place with older, more experienced eyes is one of the reasons people travel in the first place. As our lives change and our vault of knowledge gets bigger, our perceptions change too.

Traveling Deeper, Instead of Wider

The first time I ever had Sushi, Tokyo in 2010.

Revisiting a beloved place is kind of like seeing an old friend: you get to catch up, learn more about them, explore different facets.

Perhaps the biggest reason I’m excited to revisit Japan is the food. The first time I visited Japan I reviled in the historical sites and the cute street culture, but I wasn’t much of a foodie. It would take a few more countries and a bit of adventure for me to really develop a strong appreciation for world food.

This time, I’m all about experiencing Japan’s many culinary offerings. I’m making lists of ramen shops, food courts and tofu restaurants. I’m psyching myself up for gyoza, udon and katsu curry. And then there is the sushi of course. So many possibilities and Mike and I are basically planning our trip around them.

So instead of racking up an insane country count, my goal is to travel deeper, not wider. To truly know and understand a place is a valuable thing that takes time. And I’m up to the challenge.

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6 thoughts on “Why Revisiting a Place Can be Just as Magical as the First Time”

  1. I agree! I’m going to London in a couple weeks, the first time since I lived there nine years ago and that period changed me so much. It’ll be interesting to go back after so many things have happened in my life and to see how the city has changed and make new discoveries!

  2. Completely agree, I am also of the second school of thinking. I have revisited my favourite countries many times, usually to different parts of the country but also to some of the same places. Why not return to places that make you happy? I also love visiting new places but returning to my favourite countries is something I will always continue to do, in fact I am heading back to the US for the eighth time in a week for a three month road trip

  3. I lean towards revisits, too. The fact that there is always a next time (even if only just in my head) actually helps me from over-scheduling my trips and getting tired just planning. But of course exploring a new place is fun, too. My ideal trip would probably be a little of both, maybe travel to cities close together 🙂

  4. I find myself feeling guilty when I chose to return to a place like Barcelona or London, which are certainly “cliche” European destination. But I think finding balance on your trip by visiting one new / one old destination is a great way to have your cake and eat it too!

  5. I’m sometimes a little scared to go back to a place where I have such magical memories from, but I’ve tried it a couple of times and it always turned out great. I love that it feels like getting a new change to dive even deeper into a place.

  6. I’m mixed. Right now, I am focusing on new places, but there are places, especially where things have changed a lot, that I would like to return to sooner rather then later.

    Iceland is a place I would love to go back to. I went in 2005 when tourism was so small that I ran into people that were on my fight in different locations all over the island all week. It was that small and there were so few people there, I can’t even imagine how much has changed.

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