You might think there are so many places in the world that you want to visit that you simply don’t have the time or money to return to a place you’ve already seen. I used to think this way too, until various circumstances had me returning to destinations I’d already visited — and these trips turned out to be some of the best I’ve ever had.

I’m not just talking of returning to places where your friends or relatives live, but also considering traveling again to cities and regions that you’ve visited simply as a tourist or traveler. To persuade you, here a bunch of reasons why traveling somewhere for a second (or third … or fourth!) time can be a really great idea.

More Focused Sightseeing

The second time around, you’ve got a much better idea of what you want to see and do in your destination. For example, you know which museums you want to return to for a better look, or which galleries you want to go to but couldn’t make it the first time (in my case, usually thanks to one of those “closed on Mondays” policies).

If you’re anything like me, you tend to get more chatty with other travelers and locals towards the end of your trip. And on your first visit, you probably heard about a bunch of interesting day trips or sightseeing spots when it was already too late for you to do them.

Fire Tower Lookout, Washington
Fire Tower Lookout, Washington © Dave Morrow

Less Accommodation Hiccups

The internet is all well and good but it’s still tricky to book appropriate accommodation without having been to a city or area. When you return to a destination for a second time your accommodation choice is less hit-and-miss. You might return to a good ho(s)tel that you enjoyed the first time (knowing it will — hopefully — still be great), or find a better one with your “insider knowledge”, either from places you came across on your first trip or from tips the locals gave you last time.

You also have a better sense of location on your second trip. So although a hotel website might say that it’s “very central” — and perhaps technically is very central — it may not be the most convenient place to stay for the sightseeing and trips you actually want to do.

Better Prepared

When you’ve experienced a place before, your culture shock is dramatically reduced so your curiosity can fully go to work the second time around.

All boy scouts prepare better the second time around (right?!). It is much easier to be well-prepared (or at least suitably prepared) for a trip when some of the unknown factors become known. That means you can probably pack better the second time, knowing what kind of clothes are going to fit your activities, the culture and the climate, and you can choose the best season to go if you accidentally landed during the rainy season last time and couldn’t get out hiking very much.

Less Culture Shock

Obviously when you’ve already experienced it once, your culture shock is dramatically reduced so your curiosity can go to work instead. Those unusual foods won’t be scary, but intriguing instead, or perhaps even a familiar taste that you’re now craving.

You won’t need to work out the strange bus ticket system, but can focus instead on getting to new spots on the bus network. You’ll already know the systems for getting off the bus at your stop and how to understand the timetable so you can get back when you need.

Nomad Travelers, Indonesia
Nomad Travelers, Indonesia © Blek

More Local Contacts

When you return to a destination for a second visit, there’s also the possibility that you will have made some friends or at least interesting and useful contacts during your first trip, and you can look them up again.

I’ve met locals on many trips and kept in contact via email or social media. Even though we didn’t know each other very well, it’s like meeting up with an old friend when you return to their hometown. In my experience, most people you meet while traveling don’t really believe they’ll ever see you again — so if they do, they’re pleasantly surprised!

If you haven’t made any particular friends, you still may have met a friendly person to talk to about organising a hiking trip or perhaps even the employees at the hostel will remember you and give you some new tips (and a better room!).

Less Camera Time

I love to record my trips visually (camera and/or video) but sometimes when I’m visiting a place for the first time — especially if I love it — I get a bit obsessed and spend too much time with my head stuck behind my camera.

When I am on a second trip to a place, that “pressure” (self-induced, I know!) is gone and I can wander freely without feeling the need to constantly reach for my camera, and just enjoy watching what’s happening around me instead. It can be quite liberating!

Cozy Sunset in Indonesia
Cozy Sunset in Indonesia © Riza Nugraha

More Local Language

Whether you actively try to learn some of the local language or simply pick up some key phrases just by being there, the second time around you will be much better equipped. Plus you will know in advance just how much of the local language you really need to know to get around.

For example, if you’re returning to small-town South America, you probably figured out you should brush up your Spanish a lot better before your next trip. Even just picking up a few key polite words like “please” and “thank you” can make a big difference to your experience with the local people, wherever you are. By the time you revisit a place these phrases are probably firmly entrenched for you.

Warning: Have Realistic Expectations!

Nine times out of ten, you can return to a destination and have a fantastic time. However, on the odd occasion — especially when you had a fabulous experience on the first trip — you might find that it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. This might be a function of the people you’re traveling with, the weather, some bad experience like lost luggage, or even (this happened to me once) because your favourite park and beach area had been totally cleared to make way for construction works — but it can happen.

Try to keep your expectations realistic and remember that things can change. Just be happy either way!

6 Responses

  1. Pamela Cooper

    I completely agree! I always regard the first trip as a recce to familiarise myself with all the things I don’t want to experience again, and also for all the reasons you wrote about in your excellent article!

    Reply
  2. Myriam @OffToWanderland

    I agree! 100%!

    Even though there are so many other places to see in the world, going twice to the same place/country allows you to explore it better.
    During my road trips, I often lose time (but it is fun too!) finding accommodations, directions, …
    Going to the same country several times, you already own all that stuff and can just enjoy.
    For example, I have traveled several times to Oman – a paradise for trekkers – and would love to go there again.
    Maybe during my upcoming round the world trip :)

    Cheers from a global-trotter French!

    Reply
  3. Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut)

    All very true. You feel more comfortable in a destination the second time around. But if a long time has elapsed, your more experienced (less starry-eyed) self may experience disappointment upon encountering a much more developed, busier, and more “anglicized” version of an old favourite. I just had this happen to me with Ubud in Bali (which I first visited in 1995)!

    Reply

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