Take Two: The Value of Destination Repetition

Vegas--I've been there before, and I'll be there again. And again. And again.


I will never own a beach house.  I will never own a lake house, a mountain house, a cabin by a stream or a condo in Florida.  Why?  Because that would mean that I’d have to return to the same location year after year.  And the world is just too darn big to do such a thing.

Yet I am guilty of destination repetition–I’ve been to Vegas twice, Disney World four times (in a little over a year), and I have already booked a return trip to Bermuda.  In fact, as you read this I’m touring around DC yet again, having visited countless times before and having spent several months working there, enjoying my lunch in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery.

So I have to admit that there’s nothing wrong with repeat visits. There is something to be said about returning to a beloved location.  For example…

You know how to get there 

Showing my husband around the DC building where I used to work.

Knowing the technical ins and outs of a destination is extremely reassuring.

I’m leaving in just over two hours and I have zero directions printed out.  Why?  Because I could drive to the New Carrollton metro station with my eyes closed.  I have the DC metro map forever imprinted on my brain, the result of months worth of riding the orange line from Maryland to the Federal Triangle stop.  I think I could recite the stops in ascending or descending order all the way to the end of the line at Vienna/Fairfax.  I even do it in the soothingly robotic voice of the metro announcement.  Same, too, with airports.  I will never get lost at the Orlando airport looking for the Magical Express line and I know which exit to use at baggage claim to find a taxi in Vegas.

Additionally, once you arrive at your destination, being familiar with that destination’s particular quirks–say, how the Vegas monorail doesn’t really save time over walking or why you should definitely get a rental car in Walt Disney World–will make your trip much more stress free.  As a woman who actually cried in a two-hour line for a taxi in Paris, I know–it’s very easy to have a trip ruined by something you didn’t even anticipate.

Finally–and perhaps this is only important to me–after you’ve visited a place once or twice, you learn the most important thing of all:  where all the restrooms are located!

You know what you want to do when you get there

And, almost more importantly, you know what you don’t want to do.  I am positive we will not be visiting the Natural History Museum in DC on this trip.  Why?  Because we’ve been there, done that, and we are over it–and the swarming masses of screaming children.  When visiting Vegas, I will never stay at Circus Circus.  I don’t need to plan more than half of a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

But we are going to return to Mitsam, my favorite Smithsonian cafeteria.  We would stay at MGM Grand again, despite it’s sprawling size, and I’ll always plan to end each day of a Disney trip in Epcot’s World Showcase.  I know what I like in these places–and I know what to avoid.

You will explore that area more deeply

Some places--like Disney World--change seasonally, so there's always something new to explore.

It is impossible to feel like you truly know a place after only one visit.  That’s why I know that I some day have to return to Paris–I’m sure  my second (or third or fourth)  visit will be a much more positive experience than my first.  Heck, just returning to London after two weeks in Paris made me like London so much more–and it took me almost a decade to regain my love of New York City.

On my first trip to Bermuda, I had far more things planned than I ever could have accomplished in the three days I was in port.  That’s why I’m going back.  Vegas was great the first time, but on trip number two I was able to devote a whole morning and afternoon to resort-hopping–drink and camera in hand, of course.  And on our last DC trip we visited the National Cathedral, a location a bit away from the tourist center of the city but now one of my favorite places in the capitol.  This time we’ve planned an afternoon in Georgetown, which I’ve also never visited.  Even Disney has a deeper side–had it not been my fourth trip in fourteen months, I may not have taken the time to do the amazing–but rather long–Keys to the Kingdom Tour.

In short–and I feel I’m trying to convince myself here, too–there’s really nothing wrong with destination repetition, provided you also continue to explore new locales.  After all, what’s so wrong with liking a certain place so much you want to go back and spend more time there?  I’ll certainly be returning again to all of the places named above, and I have plans for repeat visits to other cities as well (New Orleans, I’m looking at you!)

Do you travel to the same destination repeatedly, or do you always seek out new experiences?  If you do, where do you repeatedly visit?  And have you been able to find a balance between revisiting your beloved towns/cities/attractions and pushing beyond your comfort zone to try new things and visit new places?  

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