For the longest time, I had a firm travel resolution: I would visit at least one new country every year as part of my never-ending quest to see the world. This year, I threw that resolution out the window and had a much richer 2016 because of it.
I’m extremely fortunate (thanks to my career as a travel writer) that I have the opportunity to travel multiple times each year. But I would still hesitate whenever I contemplated a trip to a country I’d previously visited. I’d already gotten the passport stamp and checked it off my travel list—did I really need to see the same place again?
The answer, I found out this year, is “yes.”
I was lucky enough to be able to return to two countries that I’d visited ages ago: New Zealand and Italy. I’d loved both destinations so much that a part of me was afraid of being disappointed upon going back. Neither country is exactly close to home, either—it’s a lot of work to revisit these countries.
What I neglected to consider, though, is that returning to a country for a repeat visit is an opportunity to slow down and stop thinking that this could be your only chance to see the country. On my repeat trips, I didn’t feel compelled to try to pack an entire country into a two week visit. I didn’t skip out on smaller and more intimate experiences out of fear that I’d miss some of the top attractions if I did so. Instead, I took my time and fully explored each place I visited rather than rushing off to a new one every day.
On both of my repeat trips, I revisited some of the same places I’d previously explored, but I also ventured into totally new places as well. Getting to parts of the countries that I missed the first time opened up a whole new side of each destination. It would have been a shame to think that I’d really experienced Italy just because I’d been to Rome. I’m already planning another trip to see the parts of the lake region that I just couldn’t fit in this time.
So for 2017, I’m not making a resolution to check off any new countries. Instead, I’m simply resolving to say yes to as many opportunities as I can. Or put another way: I’m going to stop focusing on passport stamps and instead focus on making new memories.
Will you do the same?
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