The world is a big place (although certainly feels more limited right now), and with some 10,000 cities globally, even if we travelled somewhere new every two days, we’d still never venture them all.
Travelling is a wonderous luxury that provides us with invaluable life experience and the opportunity to see the world from a new perspective. Travel opens our minds, shakes up our routines in the best ways possible and allows us a first-hand insight into the ways others live — it’s perhaps one of the single greatest joys in life.
And yet, why is it that even when we have the chance to go somewhere new, so many of us would rather return to a destination we’ve already explored?
Take the annual Bali-goers for example. A large number of Australians travel to the Indonesian island every single year, to visit the same resort, dine at the same restaurant, and toast to the sunset at the same beach clubs.
Even I, a wanderlust-fuelled and avid traveller, am not exempt. I’ve been to Japan three times in the last decade, and am already planning a return trip once borders open. At least I try to visit different towns each time, but still… why am I opting to make the same trip over an entirely unfamiliar one? Especially when exposure to new experiences is what makes a holiday so good?
Well, it turns out familiarity is actually one in a handful of reasons why we choose to take the same holiday over and over again. We’re comforted by the feeling of a ‘home’ away from home, and find joy in retracing our steps, rather than taking new ones. One study even found 91% of people over 50 in the UK like to return to the same holiday spot each year. But we know first-hand that this is common for all ages. Why?
For some, it’s friends and family that draw them back to the same destination. When we have family overseas, we’re more likely to use our annual leave to visit them. This makes complete sense.
Emotional association with a holiday spot is another huge influence, and it’s true that if we’ve had a particularly emotional trip to a destination in the past, we’ll want to relive it at a later stage; maybe even every year.
Nostalgia is a strong motivator for repeat travellers. Perhaps a couple celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary will feel compelled to return to their honeymoon spot down the line, while retirees will find joy in retracing the steps of the first trip they took when they were younger.
Ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by a huge menu at a restaurant, so much so that you end up ordering the same thing every time? Well, this is a feeling that carries through to travel.
Maybe we’re enticed by new and unfamiliar destinations, but when it comes down to actually choosing a country or city, we’re overcome by choice and gravitate towards a place we’ve already been. Why? Because it’s a less risky choice; because we had a good time once, and we know we can do it again.
Your next holiday
Knowing now why it is you feel compelled to return to your home away from home, how should you proceed when those borders open? Should you follow your comfortable instincts and repeat one of your favourite trips, or venture out somewhere new?
The good news is there’s no wrong answer. As long as you feel comfortable and safe going wherever it is you go, you’ll be doing right by the tourism industry, which has suffered immensely in the past year and a bit.