Should You Revisit a Place You Love or Explore Somewhere New?

Should You Revisit a Place You Love or Explore Somewhere New?

With 195 countries in the world, it can be overwhelming to decide where you should travel next. This problem is further complicated when you have already travelled somewhere and fallen in love with it. You want to explore somewhere new but you also know that you will have a guaranteed amazing time if you revisit a place you love.

I felt conflicted when my boyfriend and I booked plane tickets to Japan for three weeks in March next year. It has only been two years since I last went to Japan for my 21st birthday. On that trip, I visited the main sights of Tokyo and Kyoto, with an overnight side trip to the castle town Matsumoto. It was a tiny taste of an incredibly diverse and fascinating country, and I knew that I would return one day.

However, choosing Japan again this time means delaying our plans to buy a van and travel around Australia, or visit other much-coveted destinations like Germany or Cuba. I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to go back to Japan so soon, but there is a tiny part of me that is disappointed that I’m not going somewhere completely new.

So how do you decide whether to explore somewhere new or revisit a place you love?

Revisit a Place You Love.

A night view of a black and white castle over a reflective lake.

Culture shock is lower when you revisit a country, because the social etiquette, language, and food have already been experienced. Your stress levels will be lower when you already have a good idea of how to communicate and navigate the country.

I’m less intimidated about visiting Japan this time around because I know what to expect. I know how to navigate the public transport, where to find ATMs that accept international cards, and some basic Japanese phrases. The trip will still be stimulating and exciting because of the vast cultural differences, but logistically it will be easier and less stressful.

You will always feel nostalgia for a place that you visited and loved, which motivates you to return and try to recreate those positive memories. It’s also likely that when you last visited a country, you realised that it has so many more amazing places that you didn’t have time to visit. This time around in Japan, I am revisiting Tokyo and Kyoto, but we are also adding Osaka, Hiroshima, the Lake Kawaguchiko region near Mt Fuji, and a rural village in Gokayama Prefecture. This is still all within the main Honshu island, and so I would love to visit the other islands on future trips.

Revisiting a place you love is less stressful because you already have a good idea of what to expect, and there’s always more to discover. However, you may feel like you’re missing out by not exploring somewhere completely new.

Explore Somewhere New.

A view of a sprawling Japanese city with mountains and pink clouds in the background.

There’s always something exciting about a country that you’ve never visited before. The culture, language, and sights are completely different from anything you’ve seen. It also means that you can add a new stamp to your passport and another country to the list of places you have explored.

The novelty factor of exploring somewhere new is high and even the mundane sights of a city or town are exciting. Doing things that are completely new is psychologically pleasing to our brains. This article explains how novel experiences stimulate dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel like we are being rewarded. Novelty motivates us to seek out new rewarding novel experiences, and has even been shown to improve memory and promote learning.

Exploring somewhere new is also more stimulating for personal growth. Travel entails using a lot of problem solving skills, especially when you don’t speak the local language. Especially if you travel alone, you are required to solve all of your problems on the spot with little to no help. Getting lost, trying to take public transport, ordering food, and making new friends all become very challenging in a completely unfamiliar environment. If you can overcome these challenges, then you will be more resilient and skilful at navigating difficult situations.

So should you revisit a place you love or explore somewhere new?

A colourful Japanese garden with a blue lake and pink and orange trees.

Ultimately, there are benefits to both options. I know for myself that there are lots of places, like Japan and Colombia, that I would love to revisit. I also have a list longer than my arm of new countries that I want to explore one day.

My personal preference is to mix up trips between revisiting countries and exploring new places. I don’t feel disappointed about going back to Japan again so soon because I’ve been to South America and Vietnam between the trips. Japan is also different enough from my country that I feel like it will still be a highly stimulating experience.

When faced with the choice, a lot of factors like costs, seasons, and the interests of your travel partner can sway you into revisiting a country or exploring somewhere new. It is also important to ask yourself how much of a personal challenge you are looking for. Travel is a wonderful privilege and whatever you choose, it is sure to be an incredible life experience.

Are there places that you revisit time and time again? Which new countries would you most like to explore?

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By | 2018-01-11T22:51:12+00:00 December 12th, 2017|travel inspiration|16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. byronicone December 13, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Decisions, decisions. You’ve traveled much more than me, so I’ll probably go with “new places” for a while. I would, however, love to go back to Belize and Iceland in particular, as I missed out on so many activities in both.

    Have you ever gone back to a place you had fond memories of, only to have them spoilt?

    First impressions can be deceiving sometimes. It is heartbreaking and emotionally taxing to go back to someplace where the people were nice and the sights thrilled you only to have incident after incident. The magic is gone.

    With a mental illness like depression, it’s easy to blame yourself in a case like that. I struggle with it. Not the norm, but it makes me hesitant sometimes to relive experiences.

    Thanks for the article, well written and thought provoking as always!

    • Her Travel Therapy December 13, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Hmm I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a place spoilt for me, but I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur several times and the last time wasn’t as amazing as I remembered the city to be. That being said, the last time was also in the middle of dry season and I had to shower literally 3x a day because of the sweat that I was accumulating…

  2. Niki December 14, 2017 at 12:48 am - Reply

    I love returning to a familiar place. I think it always depends on my mood. When I feel adventurous, I go for something new which is always risky ’cause it might end up being a shitty vacation! LOL! When I want to be sure that I’ll have a great time, I usually visit a city I’ve been to before and I even book the same hotel! 🙂

  3. Katchutravels (@Katchutravels) December 14, 2017 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Not sure if I have become old, I love visiting Goa, because of the predicability and comfort I get with a connect to nature. I have now been there 26 times in 12 years 🙂 But I did visit a new place this year, so I dont feel so much guilty 🙂

    • Her Travel Therapy December 14, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      I don’t think that makes you old! If you can visit it that many times over the years and still enjoy it, then it must have some magical quality that is enhancing your life and that’s okay too

  4. Kasia Mikolajczak (@KasiaMikola) December 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Oh that’s always a hard decision. That’s how I feel whenever I want to go back home to Poland. It’s obviously my homeland so I miss my family, friends and familiar places but because of the cost it can be prohibitive to go anywhere else that year. So I’m always conflicted because I want to explore new places as well.

    • Her Travel Therapy December 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      That’s hard when you have so many loved ones there too. Are there any countries within driving distance of where your family lives in Poland? That might be a bit cheaper

  5. Brooke December 14, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I would love to just go somewhere new in the new year let alone revisit somewhere. Great points though!

    • Her Travel Therapy December 14, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      What would be top of your list of places to go?

  6. Lisa K December 14, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I loved Thailand so much, I went twice a year a part. I just figured there would be lots of time to go somewhere new again later. I just loved it that much:)

    • Her Travel Therapy December 14, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Which parts of Thailand do you enjoy the most?

  7. balkanlifestyle December 14, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Well I love to travel, but the problem is that when I have free days I want to go to visit my homeland instead to go to some other country, so Im always in a conflict 🙂 I should definitely try to do weekend escapes to countries that are close to me, event though I believe that for the full experience novel experience its the best to visit country that’s completely different from your own…for example China, India, Japan etc 🙂

  8. Mary December 14, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I often have the same dilemma. Going to a place you love can be so relaxing and sometimes that is exactly what you need. On the other hand, going somewhere new is thrilling. For me, I try to do a little of each every year.

  9. Enele Ogah December 14, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    I’ll probably go for new places, so that I could get new places to explore even though, revisiting can be quite interesting because you know a lot of things from previous experiences and are able to make quality decisions!

  10. Niki December 14, 2017 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    It all depends on my mood! When I feel adventurous I go some place new and risk it! It might end up great or sh!t but it’ll be an adventure no matter what! When I feel like resting and want a safe, guaranteed nice time, I go to a familiar place and even try to book the same hotel like before! :*

  11. Hannah Galloway December 15, 2017 at 6:21 am - Reply

    I like both perspectives! If you are doing something new in the places you already visited then I think it’s fine. But I also ageee with wanting to see new places!

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